Nothing should make the heart sink quite as much as the phrase “homemade mince pies”. The chance of failure is simply far too high. Pick a bad recipe and you run the risk of serving up a tray of inedible pastry bin lids gummed together with a miserly Marmite smear of mincemeat.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. An endless array of mince-pie variations are now available to the home cook, ranging from the traditional to the exotic. Depending on your skill level and personal preference, you should find some level of success with the recipes below.
Classic mince pies
We should begin with something traditional. As always, if you want to make classic mince pies at home, then Felicity Cloake should be your go-to. Her mince pie masterclass from last year is not only simple – start now and you’ll have 20 to eat within the hour – but customisable. “If you don’t care for vine fruits, replace those in my ingredients list with chopped dried apricots, dates, cranberries etc,” she says.
Marzipan and orange mince pies
From Cloake’s excellent starting point, we can begin to spiral out into the unknown. Bakerybits has a recipe for marzipan and orange mince pies using a homemade frangipane that, while not strictly traditional, is at least very easy to prepare. The good thing, of course, about topping your pies with soft frangipane is that if you overcook them, your guests will only shatter their teeth on the base.
Mince pie slices
Evidently, my antipathy for mince pies comes from my inability to bake pastry very well. Perhaps the best way to do away with any more miserable gnawing would be to minimise it as much as possible. Curly’s Cooking has a recipe for frangipane mince pie slices that requires only pastry as dainty shelving; heap it with mincemeat and frangipane, and you have a soft, rich cake of which even Mr Kipling would be proud.
Filo mince pie rolls
If you absolutely cannot stomach the idea of loose mincemeat, Supper in the Suburbs has a nifty recipe for filo mince pie rolls. They’re basically mincemeat fajitas, and they really work. The crispness of the filo is much better suited to the stickiness of the filling than traditional pastry and, since you’re not a complete masochist, you’ll buy your own filo and save yourself even more strife.
Deep-fried mince pies
Liam Charles risked incurring the wrath of an entire nation two years ago when he proposed the notion of a deep-fried mince pie. It sounds like the sort of thing that would set baby Jesus spinning in his manger, but his reasoning is sound. He based the idea on McDonald’s apple pies. “Why are they so good?” he asks. “They’re fried, with a super-crisp pastry and a piping hot filling.” Try arguing with that.
Mince pie tear and share
Equally sacrilegious, but equally tasty, is the mince pie tear-and-share recipe found on the Waitrose website. In truth, these aren’t as unorthodox as they sound – they’re lots of individual mince pies that have been gently squished together in a big tin – but, on the plus side, the presentation is fun and engaging.
Chocolate-chip mince pies
Perhaps you’re thinking: “I’d like mince pies more if they had chocolate in them.” If that’s the case then, first, there is a good chance that you are a small child and I’m impressed with your reading ability. But, second, help is at hand. BBC Good Food’s Barney Desmazery has a recipe for chocolate-chip mince pies that uses four parts mincemeat to one part chocolate. It’s worth a shot.
Brownie mince pies
On the other hand, perhaps brownies are more your thing, in which case Paul A Young’s brownie mince pies should meet all of your berserk desires. They are, as you’d expect, mince pies with some chocolate brownie mix dolloped on top. They also contain two different types of alcohol, because in for a penny …
Real mince pies
At the far end of the mince pie spectrum, English Heritage uncovered a recipe from 1591. The upside is that this is a true taste of history. The downside is that it’s a taste of history that contains much more meat than you’d expect. It isn’t too far removed from what you’ll eat this Christmas – it’s full of raisins, currants and chopped prunes – but with the surprise addition of loads of mutton.
Mince pie ice-cream sandwiches
Finally, perhaps you just want a hint of mince pie rather than an actual mince pie. In that case, Donna Hay’s mince pie ice-cream sandwiches should work perfectly. You smash up some mince pies in some shop-bought vanilla ice-cream, stick it between two shop-bought shortbread biscuits and eat it. Best of all, you can use any mince pies you fancy. Except for the meat ones, obviously. You’re not a monster.