Thursday, December 22

. my festive five . a medley of mincePies .

i have a bit of a love / hate relationship with mince pies . i love them when they're homemade . i love them when they're fresh out of the oven . so hot you burn your mouth on the mincemeat . i love them when they're not too sweet . when they are drowning in a bowl of vanilla custard . 

and equally . i hate { most } shop bought pies . i hate them when they're cold . when they are filled with a measly amount of fruit . i hate them when they are sweet enough to set your teeth on edge . and . i hate them outside of the month of december . in a world where we can seemingly lay our hands on anything, at any time of year, anywhere in the world, my unspoken rule is that mince pies should only be enjoyed in the month of december .

so now it is december . lets enjoy them in as many ways as we can . 

lets start with a lovely homemade mincemeat . for so many years i bought the " luxury " mincemeat - by the way, don't you love that most recipes for mince pies use shop bought mincemeat, but ask that it be " luxury " mincemeat, as if, in some way, that mitigates the use of a shop bought mincemeat ? anyway, i digress - but over the past few years i've become a bit wary of what ingredients are included, how much sugar is added, the suet, things that perhaps aren't that necessary ?  a little bit of googling & pinteresting later and i found a fruit mince recipe on TheHealthyChef . apples, cranberries, raisins, spices and apple juice simmer away for an hour to produce The Most Heavenly { and totally deserving of those capital letters } mince meat . you will be eating it from the jar . you will be adding it to your morning porridge . and . you will be questioning your logic of only making half a batch ?

as it doesn't have lots of added sugars and things it won't keep for as long as other mincemeats, but i don't think this will be a great problem . the longest a jar has lasted me so far is three days .

onto pastry . for years i used a simple shortcrust pastry . that is until i stumbled across Paul Hollywood's recipe for mince pies . oodles of butter, a little sugar to sweeten it, enriched with an egg, it's an indulgent pastry, but then it is christmas . 

and there you go . my favourites to make up a classic mince pie . 

but . in the spirit of my festive five . lets mix things up a bit & add a few variations . 

{ two . mince pies topped with a cinnamon streusel crumble }

{ three . mince pies topped with a homemade marzipan star }

classic christmas flavours of cinnamon & marzipan inspired variations two and three . the crumble topping is spicier and lighter than the usual pastry lid, the marzipan star brings another sweet dimension, and is reminiscent of a frangipane topped tart - which would also be quite lovely .

last year i spotted so many mince pies topped with viennese whirls, though didn't give them a go . with this year's viennese whirl making fresh in my mind these became mince pie number four . and for the last of my medley of mince pies, a recipe i found last year . in that after christmas lull, when you may just have reached your fill of the classic pie, and you are looking for ways to use up the last of the leftover mince meat and the words Sticky . Toffee . Apple . jump out at you . imagine a mince pie married with a slice of gingerbread . the best of christmas in one little bite !

{ four . mince pies topped with a viennese whirl }

{ five . mince pies topped with a sticky toffee sponge and slices of apple }

so there they are . my medley of mince pies .

oh . i forgot to mention in the recipes . 

to finish . dust liberally with icing sugar . it looks pretty . hides a multitude of baking sins . and . well. just because it's christmas .

after a couple of months absence, i'm pleased to be able to bake again as part of Bumpkin Betty's Baking Club . with this month's All Things Festive theme . i'm sure i won't be the only baker to choose mince pies  . but so far there have been a wonderful array of festive bakes;

and . lots more on the club page to drool over . there's still time to join in the festive baking, so head over to the facebook page or her beautiful blog .

. have a hAppy dAy .

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