Orange & Pecan Mincemeat - Mince Pies

Once the hullabaloo of Halloween has passed the children eagerly begin their Christmas countdown. Santa lists are written and rewritten many times, but never quite finalised until The Late Late Toy Show has aired. This is normally the first Friday in December but this year is the last Friday in November, which should leave Santa enough time to make all the necessary gifts, in time for the big day. My own Christmas countdown normally begins too after Halloween. November for me is a month for baking; puddings, the Christmas cake and mincemeat all benefit greatly from being made early and left to mature over a few weeks. Individually none of these are too great a task to undertake, but each can give a wonderful sense of accomplishment on Christmas week. If you have a little time on your hands and would like to get ahead with your Christmas gift list, I'm certain that a homemade pudding, cake or jar of mincemeat would be greatly appreciated by a loved one at Christmas. 

Only in recent years have I started to enjoy mince pies. A pastry case overfilled with boozy fruit never really cut it for me, that is until I started to sample a few homemade varieties. My mother in law is quite the expert at making pastry so a couple of Christmas ago we made a deal, that she would make the pastry and I would make a suitable mincemeat filling for mince pies, to serve at a family get together. These turned out splendidly and each Christmas since I've made these to accompany some festive mulled wine. The quality of the pastry must be good but most importantly the quality of the mincemeat is crucial. I love anything a little zesty, so with added orange zest and some Grand Marnier or Cointreau, these little treats are rather pungent with orange flavours. I greatly welcome nuts, of any variety, in a pie or tart so a few pecan nuts are in the mincemeat, but these can be replaced with walnuts if you prefer. The uncooked mince pies will freeze very well. Open-freeze the uncooked mince pies in their trays, then knock each one out and store in freezer bags. To cook, replace the desired amount of pies in a bun tin. When cooking from frozen, allow an extra 10 minutes cooking time.   
For all the non mince pie eaters I'd urge you to give these a try, as you may be surprised by how much you actually like them!

300g (12oz) raisins
300g (12oz) sultanas
juice 1 orange
6 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau
175g (6oz) pecans or walnuts, toasted, roughly chopped
200g (8oz) butter, melted
175g (6oz) candied peel, {mixed or orange} finely chopped
finely grated zest 2 oranges
175g (6oz) light muscovado sugar
1 large Bramley apple, freshly grated 

  1. Soak the raisins and sultanas in the orange juice and Grand Marnier or Cointreau for a couple of hours or so until the liquid is all soaked up. I normally leave overnight for maximum soakage.
  2. Add in all the remaining ingredients and combine well. Spoon into sterilised jars, seal tightly, then store in the fridge until ready to use. The mincemeat will  keep in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Mince Pies - Sweet Pastry

180g/7oz plain flour
75g/3oz ground almonds
25g/1oz caster sugar
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
pinch of salt
140g/5oz butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 large egg, beaten

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl and mix in ground almonds, orange rind, caster sugar and a pinch of salt.
  2. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the egg and mix into the flour with a knife, then gather into a ball using your hands.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas6.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and line a bun-case. Spoon in the mincemeat. Top each with a pastry disc.
  6. Brush with a little beaten egg or milk and bake for 15-20 mins.


From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

I have one question Nessa about the candied orange. Is the candied orange chopped as well as the zest? What I am trying to say is are they two separate ingredients. I would like to make this for our Thanksgiving on Thursday. Thank you.

Nessa Robins said...

Yes they are two separate ingredients, which makes this mincemeat so citrusy! I hope you enjoy it and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Dolores Keaveney said...

Brilliant recipes cant wait to try them....thanks for this.....

Nessa Robins said...

Thanks Dolores. Let me know how you like them!

Amee said...

That mincemeat looks fantastic, I use butter in mine instead of suet as well as we have a vegetarian always at Christmas time, but I much prefer it in any case. Lovely photos as always Nessa.

Nessa Robins said...

Thanks so much, Amee. Yes, it is butter all the way here & that's a good point about it being vegetarian friendly!

LauraJHyatt said...

Sounds crazy, but last night I was dreaming of Cointreau mince pies, so just searched it and behold, I've found you blog! :) Definatly going to be making this. Thank you!