Decadent flaky pastry fig, ginger and chocolate mince pies

Herewith, a divinely indulgent and delicious version of that traditional favourite, which is as synonymous with the Christmas season as mistletoe, mulled wine and carol singing: The Mince Pie.

There are many versions of this seasonal staple, but so many can be a let-down: dry pastry, flavourless filling and a weird aftertaste – but you will not be disappointed with these Tante Marie rich and buttery morsels. Unusually, the filling does not contain only the ubiquitous dried raisins, or currants, but is a luscious combination of figs, apple, sultanas, piquant crystallised ginger, melted dark chocolate – and brandy! Make sure however, that you prepare the filling in advance to allow the flavours to mellow and mature.

Making home-made flaky pastry is immensely satisfying as well – doing sufficient rolls-and folds ensures that the pastry creates lots of buttery crisp layers – but do chill it well before using.

For the fig, ginger and chocolate mincemeat:

  • 225g dried figs, finely diced
  • 75g sultanas
  • 25g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ Coxes apple, peeled and grated
  • 50g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • 50ml brandy

For the flaky pastry:

  • 225g flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 84g butter, chilled
  • 84g lard, chilled
  • 9 tbsp. water, chilled

To make the mincemeat:

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well together.

Cover, and leave in a cool place for 2 days, stirring occasionally.

Pack into sterilised jars and seal well. Leave to mature before using – at least 1 week.

To make the Flaky Pastry (Pâte demi feuilletée)

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add half the butter and rub it in with the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add 5 tablespoons of water to the flour and blend lightly together with a round bladed knife. Complete mixing with the hand, adding the remaining water as necessary to make a soft but not sticky dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to a rectangle approximately 5mm (¼ inch) thick -it is important that the ends are kept square and the sides straight. Mark the rectangle of dough lightly into thirds and dot the top two thirds with half of the lard.

Fold the bottom third – with no fat on – up to cover the middle third and the top third down to enclose all the fat. Seal the edges lightly with the rolling pin. Give the pastry a quarter turn so the join is now on the right hand side.

Roll again to a rectangle and repeat as before, but using the remaining butter. Fold and roll again, this time using the remaining lard. Fold and roll once more, then fold without any fat being added.

Cover the pastry and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before use.

To shape the mince pies:

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 200ºC.

Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured board and cut out 12 rounds using a 6cm (2½inch) fluted cutter, line these into patty tins. Place a spoonful of mincemeat in them.

Roll the remaining pastry and cut into slightly smaller circles, moisten the undersides and place on the top of the pies. Press lightly to seal and brush the tops with a little beaten egg.

Make a small slit in the top of each pie. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the patty tin, then cool on a wire rack.

These delicious, warming treats are just the ticket to help you through the tough task of Christmas shopping. If you are looking for something different to give this year, take a look at our Lifestyle Cookery Classes perfect for the foodie in your life!