Every Christmas, we throw open our door and open our hearts to friends and neighbours (and their kids) who fancy popping in for a glass of mulled wine, a canapé and a hearty dose of festive cheer.
To date, nobody has actually taken us up on this offer because they're all rich enough to fly abroad to the sunshine while we shiver by candlelight. But let's not be bitter and twisted about this. The offer's there should anyone want to take us up on it. But if not, well, that just leaves more for me and mine.
These miniature banofee pie-lets are perfect bite-sized bundles of caramelly crunch. They'd be brilliant as a sweet canapé for a Christmas buffet that will delight adults and kids alike. The pastry cases are like little biscuity baskets and the filling is soft and luscious.
Makes 15 little tarts
For the pastry:
• 100g unsalted butter, softened
• 100g soft light brown sugar
• 2 medium eggs, beaten
• 325g plain flour, sifted, plus a little for dusting
• 300g condensed caramel, also called dulce de leche. (I couldn't find any so made my own by boiling an unopened tin of Carnation Condensed Milk in a pan of water on a low simmer for 2 1/2 hours, then allowed to cool before opening)
• 300ml extra-thick double cream or lightly whipped cream
• 1-2 ripe bananas, sliced
• A little chocolate for shaving (you can use milk or dark, depending on whether the pie-lets are for your kids or adults)
• Cocoa powder, for dusting
1. Cut out circles of non-stick baking paper to a size that will fit snugly into the holes in your muffin tin.
2. To make the pastry, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric whisk until pale, approx 5 mins, then slowly beat in the eggs. Add the flour and beat until just combined, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, form into a disc, wrap in clingflim and chill for at least 30 mins. Dont be tempted to use it sooner as the pastry needs to rest.
3. When it's rested, roll out your pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 2mm thick. Cut or stamp out circles to fit the muffin tin holes, and line the holes with them (don't add the paper circles yet). Chill for 30 mins.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Line each pastry case with a circle of non-stick baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 10 mins, then remove the paper and beans and bake for another 5-7 mns or until crisp. Remove the pastry cases from the muffin tin and transfer to a cooling rack to go cold.
5. Simply assemble the pies by filling each pastry case with condensed caramel and top with a little dollop of cream, a banana slice, shavings of chocolate and a light dusting of cocoa powder.
• This recipe comes from The Higgidy Cookbook by Camilla Stephens, who we recently featured in Parentdish.