For me, Christmas isn’t complete without a mince pie… or 10. In Peru, these amazing little guys just do not exist so I have to make them myself. If my parents visit just before Christmas they bring me out a jar of mincemeat so I can just make the pastry and they’re ready to go. However, this year this was not the case so I made my mincemeat filling from scratch.
Now for those of you who are wondering what the heck a mince pie is, let me elaborate.Originally, when the European crusaders brought back recipes from the Middle East, the pie contained a mixture of minced meat, dried fruit and spices and in Britain was always served around Christmas time. Over the years we have got rid of the meat and increased the dried fruit and sugar content making for a sweeter pie. We still call them ‘mince’ pies and they are still filled with ‘mincemeat’ but they no longer contain any meat.
I followed the Mary Berry recipe for mincemeat (although just half the amount) as she makes it with butter instead if suet which is a whole load easier for me to find here. I genuinely wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for suet, certainly not the supermarket.
Some of the ingredients are a little tricky, or expensive, to get hold of here in Lima, or just don’t exist, so I decided to make some exchanges. Instead of dried cranberries and currants, I opted for the sour but slightly sweet aguaymanto and the fig (I also used blonde raisins instead of sultanas but they look very similar). Instead of brandy I went for an Acholado Pisco, which was pretty citrus-y, as they have a similar production process both originating from grapes. The pisco is much lighter than the brandy but I think that reflects the difference between a summer and winter Christmas here and in the UK. I switched the lemon juice and rind to the smaller but more potent limón and an orange. The latter was because I didn’t have any mixed peel, although I think candied orange peel is available here. Lastly, I used panela instead of light muscovado sugar as it is the only sugar that vaguely resembles it. I always use panela as a replacement for light and dark muscovado and soft brown sugar
When it came to the mixed spice, I have a box of it that I brought from the UK, however it could be made by mixing the individual spices together. I think you can find the majority of them here.
It smelled absolutely the same as a regular mincemeat when cooking but the taste had a few more sour citrus notes thanks to the limón and aguaymanto. As I said before, the pisco also made a difference by making the flavour a little lighter, plus it paired with the citrus perfectly. I think it’s the perfect mince pie for the summer and a great little British-Peruvian bake.
The pastry I baked the mincemeat in was a Paul Hollywood recipe for ‘Sweet Pastry (Pate Sucree)’ from his book ‘How to Bake‘, because I prefer a sweet crust to my mince pies instead of a plain shortcrust. Although I do sub out the ground almonds for more flour as almonds are pretty pricey here. Plus using a mix of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry recipes means I have a true Great British Bake Off mince pie, which makes me pretty happy!
Mince Pies with a Peruvian Twist
This was altered from the Mary Berry recipe, but if you prefer you can just follow hers!
400g of dried fruit – I used 125g raisins, 125g pasas rubias (blonde raisins), 100g dried fig, 50g dried aguaymanto (physalis/goldenberry – see note below in the method).
1/2 an apple (peeled, cored and diced small)
60g butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
zest and juice of 1 limón (very small strong citrus, like a key lime)
zest of 1 orange plus the juice of a quarter
100ml pisco acholado (I used Finca Rotondo Gran Pisco Acholado as it had a mix of aromatic grapes which smelled, and tasted, perfect for the fruits I had chosen to include in this recipe – they don’t seem to have a web page but it’s available in all major supermarkets here)
You will have more mincemeat than pastry so you might want to make double the pastry to use up all the mincemeat. If you want the original Paul Hollywood recipe including the ground almonds, check out this link.
190g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
120g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
55g caster sugar
1 medium egg
Note: I found my egg made the mixture way too wet, probably because I took out the almond, so be prepared to add a little more flour as needed if it does the same for you!
The equipment for the mincemeat and the pastry can be found under each section, but to assemble the mince pies you will need:
1 egg for an egg wash
a little flour for dusting when rolling out your mincemeat
a muffin/cupcake baking tin with 12 holes (or 2 x 6 hole baking tins)
a rolling pin
round cookie cutters (9 or 10mm plus possibly 7mm) and a star cookie cutter
1. Make your mincemeat. Follow Mary Berry’s process here.
BEFORE YOU START! Slice your dried aguaymanto in half or they will blow up like a balloon whilst cooking and break your mince pie lids. Not great.
2. Make your pastry. Follow Paul Hollywood’s process here.
3. Take your pastry out of the fridge and grab your cooled mincemeat from the pan, the cupboard, or wherever you keep it.
4. Turn on your oven and set to 220C normal//200C fan/convection//gas mark 7.
5. Dust your surface with flour and roll out the pastry using a floured rolling pin. Roll to about 3mm thick and use a 9-10mm round cutter to cut out the main circle of your pies. Keep re-rolling until you have enough circles to fill your tin. Place a circle of pastry in each hole in your tin until they are all full. Use a little sphere of pastry to help push the pastry into their spaces so you don’t poke a hole in the bottom with your finger!
6. Fill your mince pies with your mincemeat almost to the top, but not too full or you’ll get leakage.
7. Take a star cutter and make little tops for your pies. If you would prefer to completely cover your pies you can use a 7mm round cutter to make a lid (just remember to poke holes in the top to allow for steam).
8. Brush the edges of the mince pies in your tin very lightly with the egg wash. Then stick your star to the top of the pie. Brush lightly all over with the egg wash so that they get a lovely golden colour when they come out of the oven.
9. Pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Always check them at 15 minutes and then add more time if needed. Mine took about 17 minutes.
10. Take them out of the oven and leave to cool in their tin on top of a cooling rack.
11. Once cool, pop them out (I needed some help with a little knife to pop out to unstick a few edges), place them on a board and dust with icing sugar. You could put them in a biscuit/cake tin to store them until needed. I’m pretty sure you can freeze them once they’re cooled too, but don’t quote me on that as ours were pretty much all gone within the next 48 hours!