Whilst many people aren’t keen on mincemeat, I acquired a taste for it as a child and I have loved it ever since. Most often mincemeat is used to fill small individual pies made out of sweet shortcrust pastry. To me, Christmas has really arrived when the baking of the mince pies starts and I tend to make my first batch of the year as soon as the 1st December arrives.
Although mincemeat is mainly used to make little pies, it can be used in so many other ways. I previously posted a recipe for Mincemeat Chelsea Buns, which I have actually come to prefer to traditional Chelsea Buns. They are rich and sweet and probably hugely calorific, but they taste so good and are just perfect for Christmas. As is probably evident from these pages, I have been using pears an awful lot recently, and I apologise for doing so once again now… but if you like mincemeat, you have to try this recipe. It is lovely and would be ideal to serve over the festive season. You can leave the pears out, but I think that they provide a little fruity juiciness which is lovely.
Amaretto definitely accentuates the taste of the pears. I mixed a couple of tablespoons of this gloriously almondy liqueur through the mincemeat before spreading a layer of it on the pie base. I also included a couple of tablespoons in the frangipane topping. I am really pleased with the result and I feel that I got the balance just right.
This pie would be lovely served with a little crème fraîche to cut through the richness of the tart, but I have to admit that it is also very good, served slightly warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
Ingredients:Sweet shortcrust pastry:
175g plain flour
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1tblsp cold water
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
2tblsp of plain flour
2tblsp of Amaretto
You will also need:
2 pears, peeled, cored and diced into 2cm cubes
50g flaked almonds
Method:To make the pastry:
1. Sieve the flour and icing sugar together into a large bowl. Add the diced butter and using your fingertips rub into the flour and icing sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and add in the egg yolks and a tablespoon of water and mix to bring everything together and form a dough. Do not over-work the dough. Cover the dough with cling-film and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 190C/Fan Oven 170C/Gas Mark 5. Thinly roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work-surface and use to line the base and sides of a 23cm wide x 3cm deep round, fluted tart tin with a removable base.
3. Using a metal spoon, mix the Amaretto through the mincemeat and spread out in a thin layer over the base of the tart. Sprinkle the cubed pear on top of the mincemeat and set aside while you make the frangipane.
To make the frangipane:
4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and then fold in the ground almonds and flour. Finally mix through the Amaretto.
5. Spread the frangipane on top of the mincemeat and pears and sprinkle the flaked almonds, evenly over the top.
6. Place the tart tin on a large baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 55 minutes until the filling is just set.
7. Remove from the tin and allow to cool before serving. I like to dust the top of this pie with icing sugar before serving.