Friday, 19 December 2008

Star-Topped Mince Pies

I’ve been glued to the TV every evening this week watching Nigella Lawson’s 5-part Christmas Show. The show has been really Christmassy and inspiring and I couldn’t wait to get in my kitchen and bake up these gorgeous Star-Topped Mince Pies! I used my Cranberry-Studded Mincemeat, that I made a few weeks back (a recipe from Nigella’s Christmas book), in half the batch and I used my Traditional Mincemeat, which I make every year by Delia Smith, in the other half. You either love mince pies or hate them, in our home we LOVE them and Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without them! I will be serving my Star-Topped Mince Pies with coffee after dinner on Sunday when my in laws are coming over for the day.

Star-Topped Mince Pies

240g/8oz plain flour
60g/2oz vegetable shortening
60g/2oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 orange, juice only
pinch salt
350g/12oz mincemeat
icing sugar, for dusting

You will need a miniature tart tray, each indent 4.5cm/1¾in diameter, a 5.5cm/2¼in round fluted biscuit cutter and a 4cm/1½in star-shaped pastry cutter.

Sift the flour into a shallow freezer-proof bowl, then add small mounds of vegetable shortening. Add the butter, shake to cover it, then place into the freezer to chill for 20 minutes. (This will make the pastry tender and flaky.)

Mix the orange juice and salt in a separate bowl. Cover and leave in the fridge to chill.

After the 20 minutes, empty the chilled flour and shortening mixture into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to make porridge-like crumbs. Gradually add the chilled salted orange juice, pulsing until the mixture is just coming together as a dough. Stop just before it comes together (even if some orange juice is left). If all the juice is used up before the dough has begun to come together, add some iced water.

Turn the mixture out onto a clean, floured work surface and, using your hands, knead the mixture to form a dough. Divide and shape into three equal-sized discs (you’ll need to make the mince pies in three separate batches of 12, unless you’ve got enough tart tins to make all 36 pies at once).Wrap each disc in cling film and place into the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Remove a pastry disc from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface thinly, but so that it will be sturdy enough to support the dense mincemeat filling. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut out 12 circles a little wider than the moulds in the tart tins. Press the circles gently into the moulds. Place a teaspoon of mincemeat into each pastry case. Reroll any remaining dough to a similar thickness, then using a star-shaped cutter, cut out 12 stars and place each lightly onto the mincemeat filling.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown. Keep an eye on them as they don’t take very long to cook.

Remove from the oven, prising out the little pies straight away and placing onto a wire rack to cool. Allow the empty tray to cool down before repeating the steps. Repeat until you have made 36 mince pies.

Dust the mince pies with icing sugar and serve.


Rhyleysgranny said...

These look lovely. I'm hoping to make some this week end.

Semlan said...

They look adorable, but they are simply not for me and my lack of patience te he! Complicated things only get made once, if ever...

Reeni said...

These are positively gorgeous, Maria!

Sally said...

Very pretty Maria.
Merry Christmas to you and the family.

Beth (jamandcream) said...

I love then too!

Kelly-Jane said...

I'm hoping to do mine in the next couple of days.

They look lovely - how's the pastry?

Maria♥ said...

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments!

Kelly, the pastry is a dream and really easy to work with. This pastry is definitely one I will use again and again! (Of course my new Magimix 5200 came into her own here!)


Nickki said...

They look brilliant Maria, I just adore mince pies. It's true you either love them or hate them, and I definitely fall into the love category! I'm making these later today, can't wait :)

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

These look wonderful! We used to have mince pies every Christmas in S. Africa.

Nic said...

They look most attractive Maria. Last year, I tried topping mine with pastry in the shape of snowflakes, but you had to look close to see what it was!
Don't you love all the lights that she had, I'm putting some up in my kitchen this year!

Maria♥ said...

Nickki, you will love these mince pies!

Nicisme, I have twinkle lights in my kitchen! You definitely need them too ;-)


Gigi said...

very cute! I love all the mini desserts that are popping up everywhere. Happy Holidays!

Abigail (aka Mamatouille) said...

Oh, we were JUST talking about mince pies at a Christmas party here in Japan today and telling everyone how much we love and miss them. Mmmmm, those look SO good!

Kelly-Jane said...

Thanks for your feedback Maria - that's just what I was hoping for!