Making mince pies (& pastry ghosts)

It's December - did I really have a choice? Having had a tub of mincemeat sitting in the fridge for 3 months, I don't think I did.

Personally I'm not a fan of overly buttery pie bases, so I always follow the magical Dan Lepard's recipe which uses ground almonds and cream cheese to create a soft, sweet pastry. This compliments the spices in the mincemeat rather than just acting as a casing for it all.

After a good hour in the fridge, the pastry was ready to use and easy to shape. I only popped a heaped teaspoon or so of mix in each case so as not to overfill them:

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The next part was probably the most difficult for me - mainly because I don't have a star shaped cutter that's the same size as the top of these pies. Still, who needs such things when we have knives? I laugh in the face of cookie cutters!

Also, the wonderful bonus with this method is that your rolled pastry can sometimes end up looking like a spooky ghost too. Ideal. 

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After the construction phase was finished the mince pies needed a mere 20 minutes in the oven, resulting in a lovely smelling flat and the following:

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Cream cheese pastry can often be a little softer than normal pastry, so at this stage I had to leave them to cool in the tin for a good 20 minutes to avoid them falling apart. But I think it was worth the wait...

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But is any dessert really finished until it's on a plate? I think not.

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If only my spiced berry infused gin was ready to enjoy with this... to be continued...