December 22, 2015 — American
‘…Mince pies can be love or hate, so here Dad makes a delicious alternative that is really quick and easy – there won’t be any left over.’
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1 ready-made roll of shortcrust pastry
50g butter softened
2 large eggs
60ml molasses unrefined sugar
60ml dark muscovado unrefined sugar
120g chopped pecans
60g chopped cranberries
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 x 12 patty tin – patty shapes 6cm wide by 2cm deep
1 x 7cm circular cutter
1 x small star shaped cutter
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I’ll let you into a secret…
I really would rather not have a mince pie, if you are offering, thank you.
It’s not because I am an American and unfamiliar with the pies, Americans do have mince pies, I have a couple recipes in my Fanny Farmer cookbook. But the pies do not have the same ritualised seasonal status they do in the UK.
I like the idea of a Christmas pastry that everybody makes or buys at a certain time of the year. The process is convivial, like making a Christmas pudding together – it puts you in the mood for the season. More importantly, the little pies take on a spiritual presence that goes beyond a token acknowledgement of tradition; they become a symbolic gesture of kindness and generosity – as Eddie Grundy said in the Archers to Jill, ‘Anytime you want to pop in for a cup of tea and a mince pie you would be more than welcome.’ So let’s not scoff at our humble mince pie.
But does it have to be made with mince? The heady combination of dried and candied fruits and suet is too rich and cloying for my taste. Yes, it smacks of Christmas like no other flavour can, but then I want to say, I am very grateful for your generosity, but if I eat another mince pie I will have the screaming habdabs!
And so for all mince pie doubters and cynics out there, I offer you my alternative: the highly palatable pecan pie in the guise of a mince pie. Hurray! I’ll have three please…
These ‘mince’ pies do have some dried fruit in the form of dried cranberries. Although, I make the case against dried fruit above, here they give just a subtle nuance to make people think, ahh, its like a mince pie, but better!
Pre-heat the oven to 160C, Gas 4
1. Prepare the pastry. If stored in the refrigerator, let the pastry come to room temperature or put in the microwave for 10 seconds. Roll out on a floured surface cover with flour and lightly roll to flatten and even out. Use the cutter to cut as many cases as possible. Then use the star cutter to get stars from usable areas of the scraps. Gather the scraps and roll-out repeatedly until you have twelve cases and stars. This should be possible from one sheet of ready-made.
2. Fill the baking tin. Place the cases in the baking tin and shape each one to have neat edges, ensuring the pastry is firmly pushed into the shape of the tin. Prod the bases with a fork and bake blind for 5-10minutes. Watch to make sure they do not burn. Let them cool.
3. Make the filling. Beat eggs and sugars until light and blended, add the treacle and and blend until smooth, add the eggs and the vanilla and salt and mix again until smooth. Add the chopped nuts and cranberries and stir until well mixed.
4. Fill the cases. Using a large spoon fill the pastry cases, just level with the top. Place the stars on top of the pies.
5. Bake the pies. This should take about 15-20 minutes. But check as they are baking to make sure they do not burn. My pie-filling had a crusty top, when the stars were just beginning to colour. Leave in the tin for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar.
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