For someone who doesn't usually like mince pies, I ended up eating 3 of these for breakfast the day after I made them. The pastry - which is free from gluten, dairy and refined sugars, and made from all-natural, nourishing ingredients - is the perfect texture; not too crumbly; not too sweet; just doughy enough; and with the perfect amount of crunch. The filling - which is also free from gluten, dairy and refined sugars, and made from all-natural, nourishing ingredients - is also much more flavoursome and juicy than other shop-bought mince pies i've tried. I add superfoods such as blueberries and goji berries to mine, which bring a unique flavour and also additional nutrients. The apricots and dates add a really rich flavour, and mean you don’t need to add extra sugar or sweetener to the filling mixture. Combined with the natural citrus juices and spices, it’s an unbeatable combination.
Granted, its easier and often more appealing to buy mince pies from the shops, and these do take a little time and effort to make, but isn't that what Christmas is all about? Taking time, taking care and enjoying the process of each stage of preparation. It's tradition, after all! But, hey, I hear ya. Theres always enough to do, so to avoid having too much on your plate (so to speak), I'd suggest preparing these a few days (or weeks - as they freeze well) before the festivities begin, to reduce stress and take the pressure off. I'd also suggest getting children involved too, as they will love getting creative and helping.
For the Crust
250g Buckwheat Flour
50g Ground Almonds
4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, room temperature
Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
5-6Tablespoons Honey, Date Syrup, Maple Syrup or other natural sweetener of choice
For the Filling
4 dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, paste or powder
6 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 medium apple, chopped
30g goji berries (optional)
The juice of half a fresh orange (and zest, if desired)
1 Teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon grated fresh or ground ginger
1-2 tablespoons chia seeds
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon maca or ginseng (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160c.
Grease a muffin tin with a light coating of coconut oil.
For the crust, place all of the ingredients -but only half of the flour - into a food processor. Blend to combine, until the ingredients form a crumb-like texture then transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining flour and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined. Add a little more flour if the mixture seems too sticky, and add a little more syrup if it seems too dry.
Knead the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it is about 3mm thick (I do this in 2 stages, using half of the dough at a time). As you roll, gently apply pressing, pressing down onto the dough as you roll it. This ill help to ensure the dough stays together and compact and doesn’t crumble or separate.
Next, use a round cookie cutter to cut out individual crusts, and use a thin spatula to lift the dough discs if they stick to the surface. Lay each circle into each section of the greased muffin tin. Leave the leftover dough for the lids.
Bake for 8 minutes until the crusts begin to brown, but aren’t cooked through. Whilst they cook, prepare the filling.
For the filling, simply place all of the ingredients apart from the chia seeds into a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Bring to a gently boil, stirring constantly. As the blueberries soften, burst them with the back of a wooden spoon and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the fruit (particularly the apple) has completely softened. Add the chia seeds just before you take the mixture off of the heat. Leave the mixture to cool slightly and allow a few minutes for the chia seeds to swell and absorb some of the flavour.
Take about a tablespoon of the mixtures and fill each pre-baked crust.
Roll out the remainder of your dough and use either the same round cookie cutter or a more fun, festive one (like a star, a Christmas tree or holly leaves). Take each shape and arrange it on top of the mince mixture. If using another circle, I like to seal them by pressing a fork around the edges to connect them to the crusts. But if using a shape, you can just rest it on top of the fruit mixture.
* At this stage, you can use 1 egg, whisked, to brush on the pie tops. This gives them a more glossy finish.
Return to the oven and bake for a further 10-12 minutes, until the pastry turns a golden brown.
To serve, dust with buckwheat flour or desiccated coconut (or icing sugar if you prefer a sweeter option), and serve with coconut cream, runny almond cream and with an extra dollop of the fruit filling if you had some left over.