This recipe, which makes about 40 pies, is a juicy variation on traditional mince pies and is another of Neven Maguire’s family recipes — "I have my Auntie Maureen to thank for this brilliant recipe," he says, "I always freeze a large batch, as I find them very handy to have over the Christmas period."
For mincemeat that will keep well, use a firm, hard type of eating apple. Juicy apples, such as Bramleys, may make the mixture too moist. If time allows, leave it to stand for two days, then stir well and put into sterilised jars and cover. Allow at least two weeks to mature before using, and up to one year is fine. Neven serves the mince pies with his ‘best ever Irish coffee’, which is included in his latest book.
What you need
FOR THE MINCEMEAT
350g (12oz) eating apples
225g (8oz) raisins
225g (8oz) sultanas
225g (8oz) currants
100g (4oz) mixed peel
175g (6oz) chopped blanched almonds
175g (6oz) dark muscovado sugar
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
225g (8oz) butter
300ml (½ pint) whiskey
FOR THE PASTRY
100 g (4oz) butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing
175g (6oz) plain flour, extra for dusting
50g (2oz) caster sugar
1 egg yolk
½ tbsp cream
FOR THE ALMOND FILLING
225g (8oz) butter
225g (8oz) icing sugar
50g (2oz) plain flour
225g (8oz) ground almonds
Large pinch ground cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, halved, seeds scraped out
Icing sugar, to dust
Whipped cream, to serve (optional)
1To make the mincemeat, peel and core the apples, then coarsely grate. Place in a large bowl with the raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, almonds, sugar, orange and lemon rind, spices and salt.
2Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small pan and allow to cool slightly, then stir into the fruit mixture with the whiskey.
3Leave for two days to allow the flavours to develop, then pack into sterilised dry jars, seal and store in a cool, dark place. To make the pastry, place the butter, flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and blend for 20 seconds.
4Add the egg yolk and cream and blend again, until the dough just comes together. Do not over-work or the pastry will be tough. Wrap in cling film and chill for one hour.
5To make the almond filling, using an electric beater, cream the butter and icing sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Fold in the flour and ground almonds and then gradually beat in the eggs, cinnamon and vanilla seeds. Beat for five minutes, until light and fluffy. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 40 rounds with a 7½ cm (3 inch) fluted cutter. Line 6 cm patty tins with the pastry rounds and fill with the mincemeat.
6Spoon the almond filling on top to cover the mincemeat completely and place in the oven to bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until cooked through and lightly golden.
7Leave to cool in the tins for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. To serve, arrange some pies on plates and dust with icing sugar. Add a small dollop of whipped cream to each plate.