I’m on the train home from Glasgow listening to Shakira singing about her hips that don’t lie and trying to remember if I put the socks I got you for Christmas in my suitcase or my rucksack…or if I left them in my flat. (Hmm, I left them in my flat).
Imagine for a second that the phrases ‘I like you’, ‘I really like you’ and ‘I love you’ didn’t exist in the human language. Instead, you’d give a person a pair of your favourite socks. A pair that would look great on the person – fit them somehow.
Valentine’s Day would be a pure sock fest. Haha.
I got to dinner at a friend’s flat the other night cold and wet. Anna gave me a pair of socks and Rebeka handed me her hair dryer.
It’s late and I’m putting on my shoes. I return the socks to Anna, fish my gloves out the pocket, put one on and Anna stops me. She inhales sharp and excited like she’s just seen a magic trick – goes – ‘Your gloves! They match the socks’. She reaches for the socks I folded by the radiator, inspects how similar they are to my gloves. Rebeka comes, nodding, smiling, telling me the gloves and the socks are matching – same pink, same yellow stripe.
I got home that night with a new pair of socks for Christmas, feeling like two people I haven’t known for very long had been kind to me, had just said a kind of ‘I really like you’ in the biggest smallest way possible. These mince pies are my way of saying a big ‘I really like you’ in a small way (lol great transition).
A Christmas pudding, a bakewell tart, and a mince, pie walk into a bar. They get drunk and fall over each other in a big heap – these little tarts are a neat version of that drunk mess. A crispy, buttery, fruity, rich, not-too-sweet really, good drunk mess.
Assembly – this recipie is a coming together and the fridge is your friend. The fruit needs at least 2 hours to soak in the brandy and orange juice, but it’s best if you can leave it to soak overnight. The pastry and frangipane can also be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
Shape – I don’t like pancake flat mince pies. So, these are deep. You want a large cupcake tray or a muffin tray for this recipe.
For the Fruit
- 350g dried fruit – I use a mix of dried figs, cranberries and raisins
- 80ml brandy
- Zest 1 large orange + 100ml of the juice
- 1 large banana – I promise it works
For the Pastry
- 175g plain flour
- 30g sugar
- 100g butter – cold and cubed
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cold water
For the Frangipane
- 50g butter – softened
- 50g sugar
- 1 egg
- 40g ground almonds
- 25g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- a drop of vanilla extract
Mix the dried fruit, brandy, orange juice and zest in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
For the pastry, combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the cubed cold butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry mix until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the tablespoon and one of the teaspoons of cold water, then, using a knife cut through the mixture until it starts to clump together. Get your hands in and bring the dough together to form a smooth ball. You want a ball of pastry that cleans the side of the bowl with no dry flour visable. If it looks too dry, add in the second teaspoon of water. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refridgerate for at least 30 mins. You can leave it overnight if making ahead of baking time.
Make the frangipane. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffed up around the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and beat again until combined. Next, add the ground almonds, flour, salt and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Then cover and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the pies.
When you’re ready to bake, pre heat the oven to 190 / 170 fan. Grease a deep cupcake tray and line each indent with a strip of greaseproof paper. Set aside.
Strain the soaked fruit, keeping the liquid aside. Mash up the banana and mix into the drained soaked fruit. Set aside.
Roll out the pastry to about a 1/4 cm thick. Using a round cutter (about 10cm) cut out 12 disks of pastry, placing them in the cupcake tray as you go. Distribute the fruit filling between the mince pies (about 2 teaspoons in each). Now add a teaspoon of the reserved liquid into each pie.
Top each mince pie with the frangipane (you should get about a teaspoon on top of each), leaving a bit of the fruit visable round the edges. Scatter the tops with flaked almonds. Ideally, you want to put these in the oven a little cold, this’ll stop the pastry shrinking. If you have time/can wait, stick the assembled pies in the fridge for about 20 mins before baking.
Bake for 18 – 20 mins or until golden brown.
Allow the tarts to cool before lifting them out the tin and EATING with lots of cream. Mmmm cream.
Happy Christmas Joe. love Caitlin x