Thursday, 10 December 2009

Joy to the world...

Oh I have that Christmas feeling for sure now. All the twinkling lights, my new 'Home for the Holidays' Yankee candle, the ice cold air... I am full of seasonal cheer - my little heart is jumping at the joy of it all. Yes, Christmas truly is my FAVORITE time of year!

And how better to celebrate the daily advance of 25/12 than by filling the kitchen full of the heady scent of cloves and orange, and baking up a storm of little star-topped cranberry mince pies? And please note the nod to Channukah, starting tomorrow night, in the choice of a star of David. Well these will be going to my in-laws on Monday after all...

This cranberry mincemeat recipe is from Nigella Christmas (London GB, 2008) p. 189. It is lighter and sprightlier than traditional apple and suet mincemeat. I thoroughly recommend it, as I suspect many mince pie haters could be won over by these...

  • 60ml ruby port
  • 75g soft dark brown sugar
  • 300g cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 75g currents
  • 75g raisins
  • 30g dried cranberries
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 clementine or satsuma
  • 25ml brandy
  • few drops almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons honey
  • In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over a gentle heat.
  • Add the cranberries to the saucepan and give them a good stir, then add the spices, dried fruit, and zest and juice of the clem.
  • Simmer the fruit for about 20 minutes over a moderate heat, until everything looks pulpy and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Squash any rebellious cranberries with the back of your wooden spoon (note - this doesn't work with red silicon spatulas, however festively appropriate they may be!).
  • Take off the heat, and once it has cooled a little beat in the brandy, extracts and honey.
  • The mincemeat can be stored in sterilised jars for a month, or be frozen for 3 months. I made mine on Monday and kept the saucepan in the fridge, removing it to make a batch a day until it was all used up.
The Pastry
  • This is not the exact pastry Nigella Lawson recommends (on page 187 of the same book) but it is how I like to make it. You will need two batches of this to use up all the mincemeat, making 48 cupcake sized mince pies.
  • Measure out 480g plain flour. Cut 240g unsalted butter into small cubes and stir through the flour. Freeze the whole lot for about 20 minutes.
  • Remove the flour and butter from the freezer and pour into a food processor fitted with a double blade. Zest in 2 clementines and pulse the whole lot until it resembles dry sand.
  • Squeeze the juice from the 2 clems and add to the flour. Pulse again.
  • Add teaspoons of ice cold water down the funnel, pulsing cautiously, until damp course sand forms.
  • Empty the whole lot onto a cold surface and kneed firmly to bring it together - don't over-knead!
  • Divide the pastry into 2 disks, wrap them in cling and let them rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling and cutting.

1 comment:

  1. Your pies look fantastic. I have to say Nigella's book is my Christmas Bible! It got quite a work out last year and is following suit this year too hehehehe