Monday, December 23, 2013

Mince Pies

In a way, mince pies are what started it all. About a year ago, my mother and I made our usual mince pies. I took a few photos, and proceeded to read my blogroll while munching. That was when the idea for this blog struck! In February, I started A Chef in College, and a picture of mince pies was my initial banner.

Well, a year later, I'm back home for Christmas and had to make the traditional mince pies! Since I've fielded a lot of questions from my friends in the vein of "What are those?" and "Dang those look good, make me some?", I got out the camera to document the family recipe. Though really, it's not so much a recipe as a life still. Mince pies are really easy to make! They barely require instructions.

You'll need:
 -Mincemeat, ideally vegetarian/without beef suet (Grandmother's is our preferred brand)
 -1 sheet of puff pastry
 -3 tbsp shortening
 -3 tbsp margarine
 -1 and 1/4 cups flour
 -pinch of salt
 -approx. 1/3 cup of water

Oven temp: 400˚F

So you'll start with making a basic crust. I won't bore you with details, but if you need a recipe for crust, just use the recipe here, and use the ingredients above! If you have another pie crust recipe, use it by all means. All you need is one crust-worth of dough.

Roll it out until it's about 1/8 of an inch thick. Remember that you want to get 12 little pie bottoms out of this crust, so you will need to re-roll. My first roll was too thick, so err on the side of caution.

Once they're rolled out, use a glass about three inches in diameter to press into the dough to make circles. Push down and twist a few times, but not too much! Do it enough to loosen the dough circles from the sheet.

Put your dough circles into a shallow-cup pan. The depth of the cups is probably not much more than an inch or so, but I'm sure you could use a muffin tin as long as you don't fill them up all the way. Press your pie bottoms into the tin and open your jar of filling.

Using a cookie scooper or a measuring spoon, blob about a tablespoon of the mincemeat in each mini-pie. Easy peasy.

Using a smaller glass, cut 12 pie tops out of the puff pastry sheet. You can't re-roll puff pastry, so be very careful! You should be just about able to get the dozen out of the sheet.

Cut slices/holes/shapes in each pie top so that steam can escape. Then, press each puff pastry top into the pie and onto the bottom.

Then, pop your pies into the preheated oven! Check them at ten minutes, and give them more time if needed. Remove them from the oven when the tops are gently golden.

Let them cool in the pan for fifteen minutes, then let them finish cooling on a wire cooling rack. Then eat! They will last for a few days in a tupperware, in case they aren't all consumed in one day.

They're fruity yet savory, and are a very British way to celebrate Christmas. My dad's face lit up when he came home and saw fresh mince pies, so that was also a bonus!

Mince pies are a great alternative to the heavy, overly sweet cookies and cakes that tend to overwhelm the Christmas dessert table. If you haven't tried them, I highly recommend them! They're extremely easy and taste awesome, so what are you waiting for?

And finally, MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope you have a wonderful day, wherever you may be. I'll be back on boxing day with a Christmas Dinner write-up!

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