Sunday, 16 December 2012

fruit mince pies with almond custard

Like a lot of families when it comes to Christmas we have some very specific traditions when it comes to food. Most of my family originally come from England, so when it comes to special occasion food that is often the type of food we have. Roasts for family dinners, scones with jam and cream for afternoon teas and of course for Christmas its pudding, shortbread and mince pies. 
Growing up we would always make mince pies for when my Nana and Grandad were coming for Christmas. We'd buy jars of fruit mince and packets of pastry to combine together to make little pies. We'd make some with lids and dust them with icing sugar and some we would leave open to eat warm with cream (especially for Grandad). Although it wasn't fancy cooking they were delicious and tasted like Christmas. 
This year I went and looked at the jar of fruit mince wondering if I would make mince pies this year and I was a little shocked by some of the ingredients on the list (LOTS of sugar and creepy numbers). After putting it back on the shelf I decided to have a think about how I could recreate these childhood Christmas treats without the list of numbers and without the animal products. 

Of course originally fruit mince didn't come in a jar, people made it from scratch by soaking and chopping dried fruit and mixing it with sugar, apples and sometimes brandy. I decided to get back to basics and make a really simple mixture. I wanted to keep it light as by the end of Christmas day you really don't need another heavy food to eat. 
These ended up coming together really quickly and I imagine they would keep well for a couple of days in the fridge (if they last that long... ours didn't). These pies taste enough like the ones I made as a kid to feel Christmasy without making me feel sick from all the sugar and butter. You can of course add different spices or different fruit depending on what you have and what you like. You can skip the almond cream and use normal cream or even ice cream if that is what you fancy. I'm a sucker for almond cream though and its light clean taste went really well with the spicy fruit mix in the pies.

1 cup spelt flour
1 cup almond meal
2 tbsp maple syrup
6 tbsp melted coconut oil

2 small green apples diced
1 cup sultanas
zest and juice of 1 orange 
1/4 tsp each nutmeg and cinnamon 

1 cup almond milk (plain or homemade)
1 heaped tbsp of cornflour
1 tbsp maple syrup 
1/4 tsp vanilla  


Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix the almond flour and spelt flour in a bowl, slowly add the coconut oil and maple syrup until mixture comes together. Press into mini muffin tins and bake for about 10 mins, keep an eye on them so the edges don't burn. Set aside to cool. 
Place all the filling ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer until the apples are cooked. Cool, then transfer to a food processor and blitz briefly. Press mixture into the cooled pastry cases. 
To make the custard combine the cornflour and a 1/4 of the almond milk in a small pan and stir to make a paste. Add the rest of the almond milk and stir over a gentle heat until the mixture thickens. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla. 

When you are ready to serve pour the warm custard over the mince pies and decorate with extra orange zest and enjoy. 

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