As with everything in the kitchen I've experimented with every aspect of the mince pie over the years. I've used just about every type of alcohol, all sorts of fruit mixtures, varied the size and tried every pastry recipe that's come my way. Today I tried almond pastry for the first time, and it was the best yet: friable, buttery, and crisp (for the recipe see Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess, or How to Eat). For those of you who don't know what a mince pie is, here's the gist:
add to that the juice of an orange and about 100ml of red wine. Bring it to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Your house will smell like a morning stroll in Sienna. Leave to cool.
Tip into a bowl, add chopped candied peel (no quantities, I just put in as much as I can be bothered to chop), a handful or so of dried cranberries, a glug each of brandy and Amaretto and some (didn't bother to measure) suet. Stir it all together and fill your pastry cases.
Ready for the oven: gas mark 6, 15 minutes. Because these are best fresh I make only a few at a time, keeping the rest of the pastry and fruit mix in the fridge at the ready.
Result: three or four light, sticky, melty bites to each one.
Tomorrow: A pie eater's frock dilemma.