The second batch were in small silicon fluted tartlet molds. My mom-in-law made those pretty little things with a thin layer of pie dough on top. The most recent batch I made by myself, also in the tartlet molds, but with the crust just pinched like a flower all around on top.
All were equally delicious. The delicate crust just crumbles under a bite, giving way to the chewy fruit center that fills your head with the warmth of cinnamon and allspice.
There is plenty of butter in the crust. So, no need to grease the baking dishes. However, the filling does tend to seep out during the baking process and caramelize to a sticky mess. Silicon baking molds are ideal – the pies just pop out. Metal/ceramic baking ramekins or cupcake pans should be fine as long as you line them parchment paper and/or coat with butter.
Fruit Mince Pies
Makes: 10 2-inch tartlets
Prep: 7 mins
Chill: at least 60 mins
Bake: 25-30 mins
2 sticks salted butter, cubed + chilled
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tb sugar
3 Tb iced water
1 Tb cold vodka
2 Tb spiced rum
1-2 Tb sugar for sprinkling
Drizzle over the crumbly dough and mix, then knead just until the dough comes together.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Remove dough from fridge.
Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour.
Roll the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness.
Cut rounds of the dough and tuck neatly into the tarlet molds.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Fill each with a heaping tablespoon of the filling.
1-Pinch the edges of the crust around the pie and pop them into the hot oven.
2-Cut a smaller round of dough and place over the top of the crust.
Gently pinch the edges to seal.
Brush the tops with a bit of milk and sprinkle some sugar on top.
Transfer to the hot oven.
Bake 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling has just started to bubble.
Remove and allow the pies to cool for 10 minutes.
Enjoy with freshly brewed coffee, tea, a tall glass of ice-cold milk, sherry or port.
I was researching the origins of mince pinces when I stumbled onto an unfamiliar word: Offal, pronounced “awful,” which is appropriate considering what it defines the entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food. It also means waste material or decomposing flesh. Suddenly, my mind flooded with visions of a noisy candlelit tavern with heavy wooden tables and benches, rough-faced men gnawing at something in one hand while swinging a tankards to their mouths with the other, carelessly spilling ale about. The history of mince pies may leave citified folks in a state of shock. Originally, the ingredients list included such things as deer stomach, entrails and suet, which is the dense fat around the kidneys. Still, this sort of thing always reminds me of something a young Greek chef said his father taught him – never to waste anything from a creature that gave its life for us. Even so, the only animal in my pies is butter and that comes from pasture-raised cows.
Baking makes me so happy. Whoever you are, whatever you are doing, as long as it’s creative, you’re guaranteed a fresh escape from tired old routines. No bills, traffic, root canals. Making something by hand is so rewarding, maybe even better than a day at the most luxurious spa.
These little pies fill my head with visions of old London. Imagine all the miles they have traveled through land and time to reach us today. Unlike the UK and Australia, we can’t get the store-bought varieties here in the States. If we want them, we have to bake them ourselves, which is fine, because they are a real treat fresh out of the warm oven. Fruit has never been so happy and we have never been so lucky.