Image by Holly Bell
Look away now if you don't like marzipan. Please, just go somewhere else. I have plenty of other recipes on this site to peruse.
Now marzipan is polarising, like Marmite, letting children play with toy guns or indeed taking the last good Roses chocolate. These mini mince pies (using this tin before everyone starts to message me asking which tin I like best. I am learning guys, I really am, albeit slowly) have a double dose of flaked almonds and Amaretto in the mincemeat and a marzipan star on the top. They're an almond lovers dream. Teeny triple almond injections. I adore them. I hope you do too. Of course you can make them in a larger holed tin if you like.
FYI: Eat within three days or you'll be pleased to hear these freeze well. Open freeze for two hours then store in freezer bags. Defrost at room temperature for two hours or pop straight back into the tin and warm at 140C/gas mark three until warmed through. Serve warm with mulled wine. Or cold with prosecco. Or just with tea.
Makes 36 minis or 24 regular size
- 250g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 50g icing sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 125g cold butter, cubed
- 1 large egg, beaten
- about 450g mincemeat
- 100g flaked almonds
- 3 tbsp Amaretto
- 150g marzipan
- Icing sugar for rolling and to dust
Make the pastry in the food processor by pulsing the flour, icing sugar and cinnamon together. Add the butter and pulse again until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg and pulse a few times until the pastry starts to form clumps. Do not keep processing until you have one mass or you will have overworked the pastry and it'll be as tough as old boots. Use your hands to carefully scoop the pastry into a ball and then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour. (Alternatively you can make by hand - simply mix the dry ingredients, rub in the butter with your fingertips until you have breadcrumbs, then add the egg and pull together with a blunt knife).
Prepare your filling by mixing together the mincemeat, booze and flaked almonds. Of course you could add whatever you fancy. Paul Hollywood likes adding fresh clementines to his mince pies, Nigella I seem to recall likes cranberries - just do as you wish. And if you happen to hate almonds and are still reading (why? why?!) then yes you can use another type of booze, a substitute nut and nothing on the top.
Dredge your worksurface and rolling pin with flour and roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 3mm - try not to use a see saw motion, instead roll away from yourself and then turn the pastry by 90 degrees with each turn. I have done a video of rolling pastry correctly (not for mince pies I hasten to add) here. Cut circles using a 7cm cutter (9cm for regular sized mince pies) and push gently into the holes in the tin. Add a headed teaspoon of filling, then roll and repeat until the tin is full. Any remnants of pastry collect for the next batch (though these won't be as tender due to re-rolling - save these for people you love a little less) and wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge.
Roll the marzipan as you did the pastry, using icing sugar instead of flour to stop is sticking. Use a small star cutter about 3cm across (like this one) to cut a star to top each pie. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/gas mark 4 for about 15 - 20 minutes though do check to ensure your pastry isn't burning. They should be lightly browned when ready and the pies should ease out of the tin to be cooled on a wire rack. Whilst cooling, dredge with icing sugar. Use a small sieve if you have one though I am a fan of a tea infuser for this purpose.
A word of warning about filling spillage. If it does ooze over the sides of the pies then you must get the baked pies out of the tins ASAP. Do not let them cool - this involves risking mincemeat burn in the process, for boiling hot mincemeat does smart when it touches your fingertips. If you leave them to cool, they weld to the tin and have to be chipped out using DIY instruments. If this happens don't cry (I have in years gone by), just crumble the remains all up in a dish and either eat or stir into slightly softened vanilla ice-cream. Then tell everyone on Christmas Day you made festive ice cream to go with the Christmas Pudding. Eat your heart Nigella.
After the first 24 are made, you'll need to wash your tin, let it cool (don't put pastry into a warm tin) and start the whole process again to make 12 more little pies. Or you could buy two tins.
NB: You may have a few bits of pastry left. Discard. Thrice rolled pastry is not a wonderful thing.
Holly blogs at Recipes from a Normal Mum
Her first book is out now, also called Recipes from a Normal Mum