Christmastime is a group effort at my parents' house.
Mum is always patiently and reliably heading up the kitchen, with my Nan, Dad and I diving in and out to offer spare hands. Josie is chief of table decorations and queen of all things napkin. Dad is on log-burner duty and the boys are always top entertainers. A group effort is always key to keeping Christmas ticking along happily.
Whilst my parents are in charge of all savoury feasting, everyone else chips in with desserts. We're big dessert folk. Normally my Nan arrives with armfuls of goodies, including a box of the most delicious mince pies ever. Nobody does mince pies like my Nan, they are top drawer. So this year when I offered to cover the mince pie base, I knew I had to do something a little different, not just an imitation of my Nan's super little pies.
I'd collected a recipe for Frangipane Mince Pies a couple of years ago and had been longing to try them out. With cream cheese pastry, boozy mincemeat and sweet, nutty frangipane I knew they were the something different, something special, that would go down a treat.
Think of these little pies as Christmassy bakewell tarts, but the jam has just been subbed out for mincemeat. And of course with a sprinkling of snowy icing sugar, they're bound to encourage a festive feeling. And as they're not too tricky, you could whip up your own batch on Christmas Eve.
Recipe collected from Waitrose Magazine.
For Frangipane Mince Pies you will need (makes 22-24 pies):
150g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
75g cream cheese
50g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
50g flaked almonds
Icing sugar, for dusting
For the frangipane:
150g ground almonds
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
25g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 lemon, zest
Begin with the pastry, this will need chilling so you can even make it the day before.
Pop the flour, baking powder, sugar, butter and a pinch of salt into a food processor and pulse until a breadcrumb consistency forms. Then add in the ground almonds, cream cheese, egg yolk and 1 tbsp icy cold water and pulse again until a dough forms.
Flatten your dough into a disc and chill for at least an hour.
When you've chilled out (extra points if a glass of wine was involved...) flour a clean surface and split your dough into 2 halves.
Roll out each half, one by one and use an 8cm cutter to cut out 24 rounds. Place gently into a very lightly floured muffin tray and chill for 30 minutes before adding in your mincemeat and preheat your oven to 180c.
Whilst your pastry cases are chilling, whizz up the frangipane by blending the ground almonds, butter, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla extract and lemon zest together in a food processor until smooth.
Once the pastry cases are chilled, add in 1 tsp of mincemeat topped with 1 heaped tsp frangipane to the pastry cases.
Sprinkle with flaked almonds and then whack into the oven for 20-22 minutes until the tops are golden.
When ready to serve dust with frosty icing sugar.
And if you're taking these little babies home to share, pop them in an air tight container and hurry them home to hungry mouths!
Merry Christmas, friends! xxx