#1 – 48 Recipes Challenge – Recipe 9: Frangipane Mince Pies and Star Topped Cranberry Mince Pies
Ok, ok, these *are* supposed to be new recipes and of course I’ve made mince pies before, but I’ve never made mincemeat itself and I’ve also never made frangipane. In addition, the Cranberry Mince Pie recipe was one from my untouched back collection and I’ve never cooked with fresh cranberries before either so there is lots of ‘new’ in this month’s creations.
Obviously, it just had to be a Christmassy recipe this month. A visit from the family for Christmas drinks and nibbles seemed to be an ideal opportunity to create something good for my guests. I was assisted by a veritable pantheon of baking royalty; Mary Berry’s Mincemeat, Paul Hollywood’s Frangipane Mince Pies and Delia even got in on the act too as a result of me having lots of leftover cranberries to use up. Funny how cooking often seems to lead to more cooking!
Back to the pies though, the first job was to create the mincemeat. I chose a Mary Berry recipe (http://www.maryberry.co.uk/recipes/christmas/special-mincemeat because she uses butter rather than suet which I hope would be a bit lighter and possibly not quite so rich as I sometimes find mince pies a bit much. It’s basically an assembly job – pretty much the only things to actually do are chopping up a cooking apple and some almonds and grating some lemon zest. Everything else just gets weighed out and then goes into a big pan to be heated up before the booze is stirred in at the end. Super easy, and a great way to use up the dried fruit and mixed peel leftover from making the Christmas cake.
I then divided my mincemeat in two, added chopped fresh cranberries and port to one half, and added amaretto liqueur to the other half. Whip up some pastry discs, pop in the cranberry mincemeat, top and bake and there you have Cranberry Mince Pies.
The Frangipane Mince Pies ( http://paulhollywood.com/recipes/frangipane-mince-pies/ ) proved slightly more advanced. Firstly they needed almond pastry (pretty easy, just add ground almonds to the mix). I was very disappointed with Mr Hollywood however, when I read the third instruction in this recipe: “Chill for at least 3 hours before using.” WHAT! I need to know this kind of thing at the start of a recipe, not half way through. As a result, the pastry rested a lot longer than three hours (overnight, in fact) as I had an important date to watch the Strictly final that evening and the making of mince pies was not going to interfere with that! Luckily the pastry was perfectly workable the next day (phew), so it was duly rolled, cut and used to line patty tins, to which I then added the amaretto mincemeat.
Now for the frangipane. This was one of those recipes on my ‘too difficult’ list (and therefore part of the reason for creating this challenge). Clearly I’d never actually looked at a frangipane recipe before deciding that it was ‘too difficult’ because it isn’t. I think I thought it was sort of like a soufflé, but actually it’s more like a cake mix and, therefore, very easy. Mix it up, top the pies and bake. One word of warning: don’t overfill your pies. The frangipane expands when cooking and if there’s too much it’ll go sideways as well as upwards.
Here’s the finished product (minus the one that expanded halfway across the tin…):
Impressive huh! (Well, I was impressed anyway.) Taste wise, the frangipane ones were better. Sweeter and somehow more luxurious. I really liked the amaretto as an addition to the mincemeat, and there was a very definite almond flavour. My guests and other taste testers were most impressed with Frangipane ones too, although no-one said no to the others either! I’ll score as follows:
4/10 for everything (anything involving butter and pastry is never going to be that good for you)
Ease of preparation:
Mincemeat – 9/10 (Cooking doesn’t get much easier than that)
Cranberry Mince Pies – 8/10 (as long as you can make pastry you’ll be fine)
Frangipane Mince Pies – 7/10 (tell me at the beginning of the recipe if I need to have a three hour pause in my cooking please!)
Cranberry Mince Pies – 6/10 (a touch tart for me but if you don’t like them too sweet they could be perfect)
Frangipane Mince Pies – 9/10 (something a little different, excellent almond flavour and a good texture too)
A friend has since recommended adding tiny pieces of chopped marzipan to the frangipane ones in future, which sounds just heavenly to me. I plan on trying that next year.
Now for the extras. Cranberries come in packs of about 350g and I only needed about 50g for the mince pies. So, I had A LOT left. Delia to the rescue! One quantity Cranberry and Onion Confit (which proved to be delicious with the cold meats on Boxing Day) and one half quantity Cranberry and Orange Sauce, duly created. On first taste (e.g. whilst still warm in the saucepan), both recipes seemed a little too tart, but both mellowed overnight and were just perfect after that. Both were surprisingly easy to produce, with very little effort beyond a bit of chopping up and then cooking. Recommended.
And here are the links for the bonus recipes:
Cranberry and Onion Confit: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/main-ingredient/cranberries/cranberry-and-onion-confit.html
Cranberry and Orange Sauce: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/main-ingredient/cranberries/cranberry-and-orange-relish.html