I was given the link to a blog last year for a suet free mincemeat recipe, and it was so truly scrumptious, even though I skimped a little on a couple of ingredients, namely using ordinary brandy and cider, instead of the suggested West Country cider (although a still cider would be preferable if you can get one) and Somerset Cider Brandy, which although sounding incredible are beyond my remit. As you cook this until you get an oozy amalgamation you will find you can use it as soon as it’s cold, and it keeps in sterilised jars for at least a year. This mincemeat, combined with the sweet shortcrust pastry recipe from an edition of Delicious Magazine, will revolutionise your mince pies, and even naysayers will find themselves sneaking back for another. I am headed towards my sixth dozen so far this Christmas, using a mixture of traditional and Christmas shaped tops , meringue tops and iced topped frangipane, I can recommend doing a mixture of them all as variety is the spice of life! My children over the past three years of me making my own mince pies have gone from only liking the meringue style to loving them all, but only homemade, and only with a really good mincemeat, if you gave them a shopbought one they’d turn their noses up at it!
My version didn’t use cooking apples, hard to find over here, so I choose the tartest green eating apples I can find, and you’d never know the difference.
Instead of brandy you could use a dark rum, and although I love the subtlety of the spices in this for the next batch I’m going to add another half teaspoon of mixed spice and cinnamon.
Unfortunately I can’t post photos at the moment, hopefully Santa will get my netbook fixed for me! So when I can I’ll pop some up, in the mean time, here’s the link to the mincemeat, thanks so much Very Berry Handmade!
On with my slight tweak:
400ml medium cider
450g soft brown sugar
1.8 kg cooking or tart eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces.
450g seedless raisins
100g natural glace cherries, finely chopped
100g blanched almonds, finely chopped
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp brandy, as good as you can afford
*Optional – zest and juice of an orange
- In a large deep pan warm the cider and sugar through without boiling until the sugar has dissolved, then add the apples, followed by the dried fruit, cherries, almonds and spices, zest and juice. Do not put the brandy or rum in at this stage!
- Slowly bring the mixture up to the boil stirring continuously, then reduce to a low simmer, place a lid half on, and cook for between half an hour and an hour, stirring from time to time. You’ll probably find the apples need nudging into the mix as they tend to float a little. When you have a soft, pulp like consistency take off the heat and cool completely, before stirring in the brandy (or rum).
- While the mincemeat is cooling get your jars ready, you will need at least four large jars, wash them, then rinse and dry in an oven on a low heat like gas mark 2. I use a little greaseproof paper between the lid and the jar, and there is still half a jar in my fridge from last year’s batch. Seal tightly and they should keep perfectly well in a cupboard, although if you live somewhere hot I’d possibly err on the safe side and refrigerate if you’ve any left come Spring. Once opened keep it in the fridge.
NB. I say to cut everything into small pieces as eating apples don’t tend to break down like cooking apples, and you want each spoonful going into your mince pies to be balanced, not a big dollop of apple (or cherry, or almond) and little else! For those with nut allergies I have made this without and it is still beautiful.