|Christmas Mince Balls|
I love Christmas! Simply because it gives me an excuse to do some serious cooking. It all kick start for me when it hits December. Never before as I think it ruins the spirits of Christmas. In my house, there will be no Christmas songs, decorations and cards until I lifted off the first date on the advent calendar and savoured the delightful chocolate treat hidden behind.
So far, i have made my mincemeat, which has now gone into the making of my modern take on the traditional mince pies........The Mince Balls. Yes, that's right! They are like delicious bite size yumminess....! I personally think they are much nicer than the traditional mince pies as it has a much more balanced of pastry to mincemeat ratio, great if you are trying not to cut down on consuming too much pastry this Christmas.
For the sweet shortcrust pastry:
225g plain flour
Pinch of salt
150g cold butter, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
75g icing sugar (use caster sugar if you wish but icing sugar as it produces a smoother pastry)
1 egg yolk
1 whole egg
Sift the flour with the salt into a cold mixing bowl. Quickly rub the flour and butter together to a crumble texture. Stir the sugar into the flour mixture, then add the egg yolk and egg. Work everything together and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.
For the mincemeat:
(makes approx. 2.75 kg)
450g Bramley apples, cored and chopped
225g shredded suet or vegetarian suet
225g mixed chopped candied peel
350g soft dark brown sugar
Juice and grated zest of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
50g whole almond, roughly chopped
4 tsp mixed ground spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp brandy
Combine all ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirred and mixed them thoroughly. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave in a cool place overnight and let the flavours mingle and develop. After that, transfer the mixture into a oven proof bowl. Cover loosely with foil and place in a pre-heated oven, 120ºC, for 3 hours.
Then remove the bowl from the oven. As it cools, stir it from time to time. When the mixture is quite cold, stir in the brandy and packed in a clean, sterile jar.
For the Mince Balls:
Sweet Shortcrust pastry
Milk, for brushing
Icing sugar, to decorate
To make the mince balls, roll out the pastry to a 0.5cm thickness. Use a round cutter cut into, individual discs, roughly 8cm diameter. Fill a teaspoonful of mincemeat into the centre of the discs and then roll into a ball, making sure the filling are sealed in. Repeat until all pastry are used up. Chill before baking.
Pre-heat the oven to 200, place the mince balls onto a baking tray and lightly brushed the top of the balls with milk. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Once golden, crisp and cooked, removed and allow to cool completely. Dust with the icing sugar and serve.