The build-up to the festive season wouldn’t be the same without mince pies, and it’s a tradition I was more than happy to embrace – I just love them! I’ve added a little continental twist to this recipe …

Serves 6

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus marinating

Cooking time: 20 minutes

For the mincemeat
250g (8oz) golden sultanas
250g (8oz) natural glacé cherries,
250g (8oz) raisins
100g (3½oz) mixed peel
125g (4oz) unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground mixed spice
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
250g (8oz) dark muscovado sugar
250ml (8fl oz) amaretto liqueur

For the pies
butter, for greasing
1 x quantity shortcrust pastry
(see page 10)
plain flour, for dusting
250g (8oz) ready-made or
homemade puff pastry (see page 16)
1 egg, lightly beaten
15g (½oz) light muscovado sugar

The mincemeat should be made a few weeks before you use it for this recipe for the flavours to develop, but trust me – it is worth waiting for. Put all the dried fruit and spices into a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the grated zest, sugar and amaretto in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved – do not let it boil. Pour over the mixed fruit and stir gently, without breaking up the fruits. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to infuse for 48 hours. Pack the mincemeat into sterilized jars and seal. Store in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks to allow the flavours to mature.

When you are ready to make the mince pies, preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C)/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease 6 x individual 10cm (4in) diameter loose-bottomed tartlet tins.
Roll out the shortcrust pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tins (see page 18). Generously fill the pastry cases with the mincemeat (this will use approximately 500g (1lb)). Roll out the puff pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and brush it with the beaten egg. Using a star-shaped cutter, cut out 6 star shapes, or any shape you like, to cover the tart and place them on top of the mincemeat. Sprinkle with the light muscovado sugar. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the stars have all puffed up. Serve warm with some crème fraîche drizzled with amaretto and sprinkled with roasted flaked almonds … yum yum!

This recipe will also make 24 small mince pies in 2 x 12-hole bun tins – just reduce the cooking time to 20–25 minutes or until the pastry is golden