This post is for all you tardy types who haven't made your Christmas mince yet. Welcome, friends! In fact, I am so slack that in the six years that this recipe has been in my possession I think I've only made it three times. The good news is though that it makes such a lot that you can store some for the following year and feel all smug and worthy. Even better news is that it's suet-free, which will soothe those who feel a little queasy about such things.
South Pacific Christmas Mince
The caramelised banana gives this a slightly tropical island touch. I guess you could equally call it Caribbean, but since I've never been there I'm sticking to what I know. Anyway, this is a recipe from New Zealand foodwriter Lois Daish, who used to be a household name but seems to have stepped down from the spotlight. Her original was a bit fussy - I have made it super-streamlined and much simpler.
225g seedless raisins
150g mixed peel
30g almonds, roughly chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup brandy (or a mixture of brandy and sherry, or rum, or gin, or whatever your drinks cabinet holds)
1/2tsp ground allspice
1tsp ground ginger
150g brown sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and add the sugar. Stir well, then add the mashed banana. Cook for several minutes, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Add all remaining ingredients to the banana mixture and stir well until combined. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight, then stir well and put into a suitable jar or jars. Store in the fridge.
Once you feel up to making the actual pies, try this foolproof almond pastry. Honestly, pastry is not my forte but this is really easy. I make this in a freestanding mixer (my beloved KitchenAid), but it would be just as easy and quick in a food processor. It's still doable by hand, but if you've got the tools, use 'em!
250g plain flour
50g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
190g fridge-cold butter, diced
1 egg yolk
1Tbsp ice-cold water
Put the flour, almonds, sugar and butter into the mixer or processor. Beat or whiz until you get a breadcrumb-y texture. Combine the egg yolk and water in a cup, then add to the bowl and beat or pulse until the mixture clumps. Press the mixture together into a flat disc with your hands and leave in a cool place for at least 20 minutes.
When you're ready to roll, so to speak, get two large pieces of greaseproof paper or cling film and place the pastry disc between them. This makes everything much, much easier and you don't have to scrape pastry bits off the worktop or your rolling pin.
Bake the filled tarts in a hot oven - around 210C - for about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight tin. Makes enough pastry for two dozen little mince tarts.