Christmas cooking with beer

On top of our busiest time of year in the business and all of my family’s birthdays, except mine! I have my traditional Christmas treats that I enjoy making every year… why buy it when I can make it – bring it on right?! All this got me thinking about that humble little Christmas treat – the fruit mince pie. Much like Marmite, people either love them or hate them. Personally, I love them…

I’m always looking for creative ways to use my homebrew other than just drinking it. I did a little research and found a lot of mince pie recipes that I have adulterated, combined, substituted and tweaked to create my own version of a milk stout mince pie. I finished them this morning and I’m proud to say they are D-EE-LISH!

 

Some tips before you start:
Whether or not you have made your own milk stout (which of course I highly recommend that you do) I urge you to give these little babies a try.

Make sure you make the mincemeat at least 48hrs in advance … It’s easy and should only take about 10 mins if you have all the ingredients:

Leave to soak for at least 48hrs – I left mine for a week…what with making homebrew I’m used to waiting! I went to make the pies this morning only to discover that the mix seemed a little too wet… so wet that I poured it into a colander to remove the excess syrup.

Note that although I’ve included a pastry recipe – in my opinion life is too short for making pastry from scratch – I cheated and used bought pastry. It only took about 10 minutes to cut out the rounds and fill them. Didn’t I ever tell you I am a lazy cook?

Christmas-recipes

There’s enough mincemeat mix to make at least 2 batches. Half of mine are gone already (and I can’t even blame the kids as they are still at school!) – so that second roll of pastry will come in handy. If you do overfill the pastry cups and get syrupy leakage over your tin – do not – I repeat – DO NOT throw this part away! They are your reward for making the pies and you should peel them off the tray and eat them yourself. When cooled and hardened they are little bursts of crunchy-chewy toffee deliciousness.

Milk Stout Mince Pies

Make a minimum of 48hrs and up to 4 weeks in advance

Ingredients

For the mincemeat filling:

250g raisins                                              200g glacé cherries, halved
200g dried apricots, quartered             100g dried mixed peel
100g dried cranberries                           1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg                                            1 tsp mixed spice
50g chopped almonds                            50g ground almonds
125g unsalted butter                              250g dark muscovado sugar
250ml Homebrewed Milk Stout            1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 Orange                                      Zest of 1 Lemon

 

For the pastry:

For Serious Cooks:
375g plain flour
260g softened unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
1 large egg

For Everyone Else:
250g ready rolled shortcrust pastry
Milk for brushing
Demerara sugar for dusting

 

Method
  1. Place dried fruit, nuts and spices into a large bowl and stir to combine evenly.
  2. In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, stout, zest and vanilla. Stir over gentle heat to melt butter and dissolve sugar – do not allow to boil.
  3. Pour syrup over the mixed fruit and stir gently to distribute evenly
  4. Cover bowl with cling film and leave to macerate for minimum 48 hours.

48+ hrs later…

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4

 

If you are making your own pastry:


In a large bowl add flour and chopped softened butter.

Rub together with your fingers until consistency of breadcrumbs.

Add sugar and egg and mix until it just comes together.

(Alternatively, pulse flour and butter in a food processor until crumb-like, add sugar and egg and pulse until mixture comes together).

Tip onto lightly floured surface and knead gently to form a dough; do not over-work!

Wrap pastry dough in cling film and leave in the fridge to chill for approx. 10 mins.

Roll out pastry to approx. 3mm thickness.

 

OR… save yourself the trouble….

Remove ready rolled shortcrust pastry from fridge about 10 mins before us, unroll sheet.

Grease your pastry tin with butter.

Using a round cutter appropriate to your pie size – cut out pastry rounds and line your tin.

Fill pastry with mincemeat mixture – careful not to overfill.

Cut out shapes to top the pies (I used a star because it’s Christmassy).

Glaze your pastry shapes with milk and a dusting of demerara sugar or some of the syrup from your mincemeat mixture.

Using a pallet knife to assist, place your glazes pastry shapes on top of your pies.

Place tray in the oven and cook until the pastry is golden brown: approximately 10 mins for mini pies and 20-25 mins for regular pies.

 

EAT THEM!

Note: You will most likely have a large amount of mincemeat left over. Just put in a clean, sterilized jar and seal. Leave in a cool dark place where the mixture will continue to infuse over the next few weeks ready for the next batch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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