Hey everyone, it’s the end of november so how about a christmas special recipe?
For a warming winter treat you can enjoy all throughout the festive season, we’re going to be making some tasty hot mince pies.
To do so, you will need:
600g raisins, currants or sultanas, use a combination of two or three of these for best results.
100g mixed candied peel
1½ apples of the cooking variety or 2 regular, I’m using 3 because mine were small.
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
100g dark muscavado sugar
1 teaspoon of powdered nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 dried ghost peppers (whole)
150ml of brandy, dark rum or ginger wine
Mix your raisins, currants and/or sultanas with the candied peel in an ovenproof bowl, then grate in your apples. As soon as you are done, stir in the lemon juice to stop them browning.
After that, add the cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as your dark sugar.
Next, chop the butter into your bowl and bake at 110°c for about 3 hours. This will not only melt the butter and bring out the sweetness in the apples but will also help to kickstart the mingling of flavours.
They will not, however, be fully combined right away. Especially as they aren’t even all in the bowl yet.
So, as your filling begins to cool again, stir in your ghost peppers, making sure to coat everything evenly with the melted butter.
Then, when the butter’s nolonger liquid, add your drink of choice. Traditionally, this would be brandy but a nice dark rum also works wonderfully and both will make this a vast improvement over the non-alcoholic mincemeat you find in stores.
Contrary to popular belief, though, this alcohol won’t ever evaporate off completely, no matter how thoroughly you cook it. Only a small amount will survive the baking of your pies but, for a truly alcohol free version, I like to use this:
Rochester’s non-alcoholic Dark Ginger Drink. This is the only mock ginger wine I’ve come across with enough dark sugar to rival a rum or brandy, to the point were some people have sworn blind I’ve used one in the mix.
It does add a hint of ginger, of course, making it imperfect as a replacement for the other two drinks but actually enhancing its use here as ginger goes gorgeously with both dried fruit and ghost. I’d even suggest you consider mixing in 50g of finely chopped crystallized ginger if you don’t use this mock wine.
Whatever liquid you choose to add, though, your mix is now complete. Stir it all together and cover it with cling film to refrigerate. Or serran wrap if you’re american.
Finally, stir it every couple days for a week, topping up the liquid if it feels too dry, and you should then have a good three point five out of ten mix. Unfortunately for me, this doesn’t translate to an equally hot pie. Some of you at home, however, might find that relieving.
When I’d covered mine in pastry it was at the bottom end of a
a low medium that only came in after the initial sweetness had died away.
It’s not nearly what I, or anyone, would expect from ghost peppers but it’s surprisingly pleasant during cold winter weather. Perfect for a christmas treat!
One thing to bear in mind, however, is that you should remove the chillies before baking as even a single flake or seed will cause the heat to skyrocket up to a four or more, turning it into a something of a roulette.
I guess, if you really wanted hotter mince pies, you could chop the peppers up and carefully place segments into each one but I’ve never liked my heat to be inconsistent so just chopping the chillies into the bowl doesn’t do it for me.
Whether you follow my method or not, though, you’ll obviously be needing some pastry. I used a third of a pre-made packet of shortcrust for every twelve mince pies, allowing me to make three batches and still have some filling left over for other experiments.
I rolled out to roughly half a centimetre thick, then used a large cookie cutter for the bases and a small one for the tops, wetting the join with my finger so that the two would better stick together in my greased muffin tray.
To further aid in keeping them together, I inserted a knife into the top, making a small cross-shaped cut to allow my pies to expand without blowing their tops off. It didn’t work. After 25 minutes at 180°c, they still ended up looking like this:
They were beauties, don’t get me wrong. I just wish it wasn’t only on the inside.
Still, their rich, dark fruity taste and warming chilli content was more than enough to make up for their visual failings. They were exquisite and the only thing I can thing of that might improve them would be swapping one of the ghost peppers for the rarer infinaga, a super hot chilli with unusually little mouth burn compared to its intense warmth as it goes down.
It’s not a chilli I would normally recommend, since its flavour is just a slightly artificial tasting ghost one and the gullet warmth is generally so strong as to be very uncomfortable. Infused into a sweet recipe like this, however, the negative aspects of its flavour would be buried beneath the complex fruit blend and its warming properties would be lessened to a far more tolerable level, just as we saw with the ghost’s heat.
It would still need the one ghost for mouth heat but it would vastly improve the winter warming effect.
Don’t worry if you can’t get the infinaga, though, it’s not a vital part of this recipe. These mince pies are a wonderful festive snack with or without it.