You’ll have more mincemeat than you need for one batch of these wonderful bite-sized pies – so save the rest for next year, when it will taste even better!
- 360g ready-made pastry (preferably a rich and crumbly pastry like pâte sablée)
- Eggwash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk)
- 60g caster sugar
- For the mincemeat:
- 225g sultanas
- 450g raisins
- 450g currants
- 450g beef fat, finely minced, or suet
- 1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
- 100g glace fruits (cherries, orange and angelica), finely chopped
- 350g brown sugar
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp freshly grated mace
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 50ml Cognac or rum
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
For the mincemeat, rinse the dried fruit, dry thoroughly and roughly chop the sultanas and raisins. Put the beef fat or suet in a very large bowl, then add the dried fruit and all the other ingredients in the order listed, mixing with a spatula until well combined. Cover with cling film and leave to macerate in a cool larder or the vegetable drawer of the fridge for 24 hours. Pack the mincemeat into sterilised preserving or kilner jars. Make sure there are no air pockets by pushing the mixture hard into the bottom of the jars and filing them to the brim. Cover each with a waxed paper disc and seal the jars with the clip. Store them in a larder or the vegetable drawer of the fridge.
To make the mince pies, roll out the pastry to a 2mm thickness and use 6cm and 4.5cm pastry cutters to cut out 48 discs of each size. Line 48 lightly greased 4.5cm diameter (1cm deep) mini tartlet tins with the larger discs, prick the bases and fill with mincemeat. (Alternatively, make them in 4 batches.)
Lightly brush the borders of the smaller discs with cold water and place them on top fo the filled mince pies. Press the edges gently to ensure that the lids are sealed to the pastry cases. Leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Brush the pastry with eggwash and bake the pies for about 10 minutes until pale golden brown. Sprinkle with the caster sugar and return to the oven for 1 minute to glaze. Immediately unmould the pies before they cool in the tin, and place on a wire rack. Serve warm, with a glass of sherry or a cup of coffee.
The mincemeat needs to macerate for at least 2 weeks before using, so make it well in advance. Make the little mince pies just a few days before Christmas and keep in a dry place. Allow three per person, as each one is only a delicious mouthful.