Mince pies! I know it’s a bit early, but one of the little b’s has her school Christmas fair this weekend, and they were specifically asking people to bake mince pies this year. I’m more or less embarrassed to admit that I didn’t just make the pastry I made mincemeat as well.
I used to think that making mincemeat was pretty much analogous with making jam or chutney-that it involved huge amounts of chopping, peeling and preparation, the use of sugar thermometers, getting spat at by a pan of volcanically hot liquid, sterilised jars, etc etc
In fact it turns out that you can stick all the ingredients in a bowl, stir them up and leave them for a couple of days, no cooking involved! However if you are very pressed for time, and when were you ever not?, you can cook it all in a saucepan and have your mincemeat done and dusted, genuinely, in 10 minutes. I’m going to be annoying and give you the old cliche that it tastes so much better than shop bought, but the thing is, it really does taste much, much nicer than shop bought mincemeat. I’ve lost count of the number of adults who’ve told me in recent years that they don’t like, never liked, mince pies. I bossily tell them that they just don’t like mincemeat, and that they should try mine.
So if you want to have a go at making your own, here’s how:
Into a biggish, but not ridiculously big, saucepan put half a cup of dried cranberries, half a cup of currents and half a cup of sultanas. Add half a cup of orange juice, two rounded tablespoons of ground almonds, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, a quarter of a teaspoon of nutmeg and a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cardamom. Finally add a heaped tablespoon of black treacle and bring it all to the boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer and keep stirring for 5 minutes. Done.
You can also chuck in any alcohol you like at the end, and in recent years I have favoured vodka, but you add whatever you like (though I draw the line at advocaat…)