When I bought a 24-piece biscuit cutter set a while ago for Andrew to use with play dough, I noticed that there was a Father Christmas cutter included. As there aren’t many weeks of the year that you can get away with baking in such a festive shape, I thought I’d give it a go this week. I also had some marzipan left over from the star cupcakes that we made last week, so I came up with something that used it – mince pies with marzipan lids in the shape of Father Christmas. But because you can see some of the filling, they are really tarts rather than pies, and their small size means I’ve called them tartlets.
I’m not a massive fan of shop-bought mince pies, mainly because the pastry isn’t great unless you buy the really expensive ones. I actually prefer a plain unsweetened shortcrust pastry rather than a sweet pastry, because it tones down the highly sweet filling. Obviously the marzipan lids of these pies add sweetness, but at least it’s marzipan, which I LOVE – it’s one of the best tastes of Christmas in my foodie opinion. But the bases are unsweetened pastry, to which I added a dash of cinnamon, just to spice things up a little and make these tartlets a real twist on a classic bake.
I don’t usually bake mince pies in cake cases, but I have had times when they have stuck to the tin a bit, so I was pleased when I came across the idea of using paper cases on the website of Holly Bell, Great British Bake Off finalist 2011 – recipesfromanormalmum.com. We gave it a try, and it worked well.
Here’s how we made them. You could use whatever shape cutter you have for the lid, it doesn’t have to be Father Christmas (or Far Kissmas as Andrew is calling him 🙂 )! As there were two lots of rolling and cutting out dough , Andrew was very impressed, so I’d recommend it for toddlers who like that sort of thing. I’d also be interested to hear about other mince pie recipes, especially if they’re a bit unusual like this one – please leave a comment if you have one.
Ingredients (makes a dozen)
- 110g plain flour
- 2tsp cinnamon
- 55g butter
- cold water
- mincemeat (I used about half a 454g jar)
- ready to roll packet of marzipan (I used about a quarter of a standard supermarket packet)
- First make the pastry. Chop up the butter into chunks and add to the flour and cinnamon in a bowl.
- Rub the butter chunks into the flour and cinnamon until you have a breadcrumb consistency.
- Add water, small amounts at a time, and combine with the butter-flour mixture until it forms a stiff dough. Don’t overwork it.
- Leave to rest in the fridge overnight, and get it out an hour or so before you want to roll it out, to get it to room temperature again.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (fan), and put paper cake cases into a fairy cake tin.
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to about 3mm thick.
- Cut circles out for the base of the tartlets using a circle cutter, and press them lightly into the cake cases.
- Add a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat to each base.
- Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the pastry is lightly golden and the mincemeat is bubbling.
- Meanwhile, roll out the marzipan on the same lightly floured board, to about 3mm thick.
- Cut out Father Christmas shapes, or whatever festive shape you have a cutter for!
- When the tartlets are ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- When they have fully cooled, place a Father Christmas on top of each tartlet and press down lightly.