Mince pies with an Oliver twist and a winter bomb
Classic mince pies (flaky pastry, mincemeat, sweet squash, almonds and maple syrup)
I love all mince pies at Christmas. This is my nod to the more traditional variety, but I think these are just a bit more interesting than usual, as the addition of delicious, sweet squash really lightens the classic mix.
Per serving: calories 317kcal, fat 13.6g, sat fat 5.6g, protein 4.6g, carbs 47.4g, sugars 29.4g, salt 0.1g, fibre 1.4g
Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes, plus cooling
1 butternut squash (1.2kg)
1 x 820g jar of quality mincemeat
4 tablespoons maple syrup
100g blanched almonds
500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
250g unsalted butter (cold), plus extra for greasing
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon semi-skimmed milk
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Roast the whole squash for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Once cool enough to handle, halve and deseed, then scoop half the soft flesh into a bowl to cool (you only need half here, so keep the remaining roasted squash for another recipe).
Meanwhile, to make the pastry, sieve the flour and icing sugar on to a clean work surface. Cube the cold butter, then use your thumbs and fingertips to rub it into the flour and sugar until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture. Beat 2 eggs and the milk and add to the mixture, then gently work it together until you have a ball of dough – don’t work it too much at this stage as you want to keep it crumbly and short. Flour your clean work surface, pat the dough into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for at least half an hour.
Lightly grease two 12-hole muffin tins with butter. Add the mincemeat and maple syrup to the bowl of cooled squash, then chop and add the almonds and mix together. Roll out the pastry on a clean flour-dusted surface to 3mm thick. Use a 10cm pastry cutter to cut out 24 circles of dough, then ease and press them into your prepared tins. Equally divide up the filling, then cut out 8cm circles from your leftover pastry to top the pies, crimping the edges together as you go. You can also add pastry shapes to decorate, depending on how many offcuts you have. Brush the tops of the pies with beaten egg, also using it to help you stick on any pastry decorations you’ve cut out.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until golden. Leave to cool and firm up for 10 minutes in the tins, then carefully transfer to a wire cooling rack. Dust lightly from a height with icing sugar and serve. Lovely hot with a drizzle of custard, or warm or cold with a cup of tea. You can also box them up for another day, and they’re great as a gift, too.
I love making these in advance. Stack them in the freezer and you can cook them directly from frozen, with a light egg wash, for 35 minutes.
Winter bombe (chocolate, cherries, Vin Santo, panettone and pistachios)
Get-ahead puddings are great. I make this frozen classic every year without fail. It looks amazing, is crazy delicious, and is a clever assembly job. It’s a sort of cross between a summer pud and an Arctic roll, and it’s sure to wow.
Per serving: calories 648kcal, fat 31.9g, sat fat 15.2g, protein 11.3g, carbs 78.1g, sugars 48.7g, salt 0.5g, fibre 5.8g
Total time: 20 minutes, plus freezing
2 x 500g tubs of quality vanilla ice cream
125ml Vin Santo
3 heaped tablespoons quality raspberry jam
100g tinned cherries, in juice
75g glacé clementines (or other glacé fruit)
50g shelled pistachios
300g quality dark chocolate (70%)
25g unsalted butter
Get the ice cream out of the freezer so it can soften a little while you get things ready. Line a 2-litre pudding bowl with three layers of clingfilm. Use a serrated knife to slice four 2cm-thick rounds off your panettone, then cut them in half. You’ll have some panettone left over, so keep this for another day. Arrange six of your panettone slices in a single layer around the inside of the bowl, pushing them down if they overlap. Drizzle some of the Vin Santo on to the panettone so it soaks in, then use the back of a spoon to spread the jam all over it.
Drain the cherries, and thinly slice the glacé clementines. Finely grate the fresh clementine zest and put aside, then peel and finely slice the clementine into rounds. Spoon one tub of ice cream into the bowl, spreading it around in a thick layer. Sprinkle in the pistachios, cherries and glacé fruit, then layer on the clementine slices. Add the other tub of ice cream. Spread it out, working quickly so the ice cream doesn’t completely melt. Put the remaining two panettone slices on top of the ice cream, drizzle over the rest of the Vin Santo, then cover the bowl tightly with clingfilm. Press a plate down on top to push and compact everything down, pop a weight on, then freeze overnight, or until needed.
Around 20 minutes before you want to serve it, unwrap your amazing winter bombe, carefully turn it out on to a beautiful serving dish, then leave to thaw slightly (I tend to transfer my bombe from the freezer to the fridge just before serving up the main to give it a head start).
Snap up the chocolate, place in a heatproof bowl with the butter over a pan of gently simmering water on a low heat, and leave to melt. Once nicely melted, stir in the reserved clementine zest, then pour the chocolate over the pudding so it oozes down the sides and looks super-tempting and delicious. Serve up any extra sauce in a little jug.