Old Fashioned Sweet Delights:
Spiced Mincemeat Meringue Pies (Recipe)
The humble mince pie needs little embellishments in my humble opinion - a crisp, crumbly and buttery shortcrust pastry base filled with fruity home-made mincemeat, with a dash of brandy, and a simple lid of more buttery pastry - a sprinkling of caster sugar maybe, or even a little icing sugar, and that’s the perfect mince pie for me. However, I have been known to add orange zest to my pastry, as well as a crumble topping for a lighter, less pastry loaded treat. And, the other day I discovered the power of a lightly spiced meringue topping, and I have to report that I was rather smitten with this new-fangled lid. The same home-made pastry lined my grandmother’s old mince pie tins, the same vintage pastry cutters cut the circles and my delectable fat-free boozy mincemeat was loaded into the waiting pastry cases. I then went slightly off-piste and using two egg whites that I had lurking in the fridge, I added a little sweet pudding mixed spice, again this was home-made, I then whisked it up with caster sugar into light clouds of meringue; the result was a fabulous mince pie, traditional in all ways it should be, but a little light and frivolous with its light marshmallow topping, it was quite simply divine.
The mince pies also looked rather sophisticated, as well as terribly expensive in a French macaron kind of way. They were just as tasty as my traditional ”pastry lid on” versions, but much lighter and the mixed spice added an extra festive flavour to the pies, as well as an added level of gourmet gorgeousness. I think that they would make great gifts, if popped into a pretty box tied with ribbon……..and a sprig of holly. Perfect with a cup of tea, or equally at home with a glass of chilled white wine, these “mincers”, as we call them up North, are for adults only I think; so, pop the kids to bed, pour a glass of wine and indulge in a couple of these for Christmas, why not! Interested in where the mince pie may have come from, well I am, so here’s a little quote as well as an old recipe about our most popular of Christmas pies.
On 25 December 1662, Samuel Pepys described his Christmas feast: “A mess of brave plum-porridge and a roasted pullet for dinner, and I sent for a mince pie abroad, my wife not being well to make any herself yet.”
Gervase Markham’s Minc’t Pie
Take a Legge of Mutton, and cut the best of the flesh from the bone, and parboyl it well then put to it three pound of the best Mutton suet & shred it very small; then spread it abroad, and fashion it with Salt Cloves and Mace: then put in good store of Currants, great Raisins and Prunes clean washed and picked a few Dates sliced, and some Orenge-pils sliced ; then being all well mixt together, put it into a coffin, or into divers coffins, and so bake them
and when they are served up, open the lids and strow store of Sugar on the top of the meat and upon the lid. And in this sort you may also bake Beef or Veal, onely the Beef would not be parboyld, and the Veal will ask a double quantity of Suet.
From Gervase Markham The English Housewife, (London: 1615)
Going slightly off topic for a minute – my latest article has been published at Garlic and Sapphire, Herbal and Festive Gifts in Jars and Bottles – please do take a look and comments are always lovely to read too! There are lots of ideas over there for thoughtful, home-made gifts in jars……and bottles too. I have shared a lovely gift idea over there, that can be rustled up and added to a hamper for family and friends this Christmas, Home-Made Herbal Stuffing Mix.
Back to my mince pie recipe for today, I have shared the recipe below, and DO try this recipe over the Christmas period, I think they are little stunners! That’s it for today, I will be back later with more recipes and also a couple of reviews too…..Karen
More Christmas Recipes here: