Sunday, 25 December 2011

Frangiminci pies (Frangipane-topped mince pies)

Remember what I was saying in my previous post? 2011 has definitely not been a good year, and from what I gather from grumbling friends, not just for me... Thinking that the end of the year couldn't bring any more disasters, we had arranged for my mom and aunt to come and stay with us for the holidays (beautiful visions of endless food, shopping together, visiting Christmas markets and favourite exhibitions + throw a show or two in the mix, arise in my imagination...), however a last-minute old relative being hospitalised in critical condition meant that the trip had to be cancelled, one day before they were meant to arrive.

Hence, depression ensues = time to make sweets descends upon me. I am a quite strong proponent of the Como agua para chocolate theory (if you're sad, you'll make sad food, if you're happy your food will taste amazing and bring happiness to those who eat it), so I'd rather just cheer up and make sweets, than have my feelings ruin a good bowl of dough. And since I've never made mince pies before in my life, and I was planning to anyway (I had found a "alternative" inspiring recipe in delicious magazine and had already made the mincemeat a month ago in anticipation), I quickly set to make these. Having never tried it, I was a bit sceptical, but they were a resounding success, and people told me that they were even the best ones they've had (my answer was "it must be the alcohol"). Since they are not covered with the typical pastry on top, but with a frangipane-like almond mix, I decided I shall call them "frangiminci pies"!

I guess everything can be looked at optimistically. I've had a bloody cold of some sort or other since the 19th of November, which kind of goes away only to "dress up" as something else and come back with a vengeance, culminating in a recent fever, and a few days spent working from home. Dangerous thing this working from home. While normally you wouldn't go to the office and work with a fever, being at home kind of gives you the idea that "oh, well, yeah, maybe, it's just a little bit of work", which eventually ends up in hours spent sitting in front of the PC. However, if my mom and aunt HAD come, things could potentially be worse, I could have given them the cold, we could have all be sniffling during Xmas, plus I wouldn't have stayed to work from home, and made these mince pies. On a day that really no work from home could be done. Because the Internet and all systems in my company were down. Just for the irony of the matter, may I add that we are an "online" company. Giggles ensue + mince pies are made during working hours = that's the spirit of Christmas!

Frangiminci pies
Source: Adapted from delicious magazine

Makes around 30

For the mincemeat

  • 2 green eating apples
  • Zest and juice of 1½ lemon
  • 500g dried mixed fruit (I used one from Tesco, should be a mix of raisins, currants, sultanas and candied citrus peel) 
  • 25g chopped almonds
  • 130g vegetable suet
  • 500g soft brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 60ml cognac or brandy
  • 50ml Cointreau

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Core the apples and bake them in a lidded dish for 1 hour. They are ready when they are soft and the peel has sort of exploded around them. Scoop out the flesh of the apples and place in a big bowl to cool. When in room temperature, add the lemon zest and juice, and then the rest of the ingredients, mixing well with each addition. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it to rest in a cool place, stirring every few hours. It can be used on the same day, but ideally you should allow it to "develop" over a month, so after a couple of days of stirring move it into sterilized jars and seal, making sure there are as few air bubbles as possible. I allowed it to rest for 25 days, and it was yummy.

For the mince pies

For the pastry
  • 350g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125g butter, cold from the fridge
  • 3 eggs (2 whole and 1 yolk)

For the frangipane
  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 40g plain flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp rum

For topping
  • Flaked almonds
  • Icing sugar

To make the pastry put in a food processor the flour, sugar, salt, butter and pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. With the processor running, slowly add the eggs until a dough is just formed. Take the dough out, knead it a bit, wrap it with cling film and cool in the fridge.

To make the frangipane topping, beat the butter in a food processor or mixer until soft. With the processor/mixer running, slowly add the sugar, almonds, eggs and rum, until well incorporated. Move to a bowl and chill for at least 15 minutes.

Butter the holes of a muffin tray (I had a 12-hole tin, which I used 3 times to make all the pies). Roll out one third of the pastry on a well floured counter, until it is 3mm thick. With a fluted cookie cutter cut out 8cm rounds, and push them lightly into the muffin tin holes. Chill the whole muffin tray for 15 minutes, before filling with a big spoonful of mincemeat, and topping with a heaped teaspoonful of frangipane. Preheat the oven to 180°C, sprinkle the mince pies with the flaked almonds and bake for 20-25 minutes, until nicely browned.

Remove from the muffin tray while still hot and cool on a rack. I prefer my mince pies warm, so when you want to eat them put in an oven preheated to 160°C for 10 minutes, and then dust with icing sugar.


Katerina said...

I have a cold too, only it was my son that gave it to me! I sniff and whine all the time lol. Hope you will feel better for the New Year and these little pies look like the best remedy for your cold!

Venetia said...

Oh what a pity...I know how it feels to be sick during the holidays, hope you get well soon too!

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