I love baking at Christmas time. Every year it was a bit of a family tradition for my mum and I to make fruit mince pies together a few days before Christmas. My parents moved up to Queensland almost three years ago, and this year is sadly going to be our first year apart. So, of course I wanted to still keep the tradition somewhat alive, but at the same time I wanted to try something different. So many people I know don't particularly like fruit mince pies - my husband included - so I decided to experiment and adapt the recipe a little.
This recipe is inspired by a recipe for Bocconotti (an Italian pastry) by Silvia Colloca. However, I changed the filling from the original, by adding some cherries, coconut and sherry and, while I did try the oil-based pastry in Silvia's recipe, I must admit I still prefer the flavour and texture of buttery shortcrust pastry, which is what I used in this recipe
The result from this? Possibly the best "mince" pies I have had! My husband agreed as well (its so nice to have a second opinion after all!) So much so that - dare I say this - I'm convinced these little pies will replace the traditional fruit mince pies, well, certainly in our household! These little gems have a beautiful gooey, chocolatey-cherry flavour, and, accompanied with a short black or liqueur of choice, is the perfect end to a Christmas dinner.
Chocolate and cherry mince pies
1/2 cup strawberry jam
100g ground almonds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips + extra
1/4 cup coconut
100g glace cherries, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Sherry or Marsala
1 egg white
250g flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons icing sugar
125g very cold, unsalted butter
70-80ml very cold water
For the filling...
1. Place the jam, almonds and chocolate chips in small saucepan over low heat. Stir gently, until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat, and add coconut, cherries, cinnamon and Sherry. Stir to combine and set aside to cool. The filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
For the Pastry...
2. Place flour, salt, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse a few times until the butter is just blended into the flour and it starts to resemble fine breadcrumbs.
3. Gradually add the water into the processor, adding only enough water for the dough to come together. Too much liquid will result in a sticky a tough pastry.
4. Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface and work it by hand until it is well combined - don't overwork the dough. Form dough into a disk shape and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 200˚C. Grease 10 muffin holes. Remove prepared pastry from fridge and lightly flour a flat work surface. Roll out dough, evenly, until about 3mm thick. Cut into 10 x 8.5cm discs and press into muffin holes. Cut a further 10 x 6.5cm discs and set aside.
6. Spoon 1 tablespoon of filling into each pastry shell and top with 1 or 2 extra chocolate chips. brush a little egg white on the edges of the pastry shells. Cover with a smaller pastry disc and press down around the edges to seal (as you can see, mine came apart slightly when baking as I didn't press down enough here; but, although they look imperfect, I don't mind as I love the taste of the oozing chocolate out the side!).
7. Brush the top of easy pie with a little extra egg white and sprinkle with some sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire each to cool.
8. To serve, dust with icing sugar. They will keep in a airtight container for 3-4 days.