Spiced Fig & Raisin Mince Pies

Spiced Fig & Raisin Mince Pies

I’ve been rather absent on the recipe-producing front, and the reason for that is that I decided to really engulf myself in holiday mode for the past three weeks. I needed to take some time, play and release all responsibility for a while. But, we are back in action now and you can expect some fun & delicious recipes coming your way again. I must say, as wonderful as it was to leave my laptop at home and embark on the journey up to the Western Cape with my friends for some much needed soul enriching & adventuring, I have been craving getting back into the kitchen, into recipe creating & sharing, so I am very happy to be back in action. It’s been a fun-packed, busy, on-the-trot three weeks. The days were incredibly full - full of life, vibrancy, sun, beaching, mountains, delicious food & even more delicious company. I am beyond grateful. I feel full of inspiration & energy again.

 

But for now, let’s get to business. Mince pie business. The only kind of business I find myself drawn to of late. I never really understood the whole Christmas mince pie thing. But, this year I have discovered it in all of its’ glory. Perhaps it was because any mince pie I did eat when I was younger was store bought and stale. I decided to give it a go, to try and create my own version of a mince pie with things I had on hand to really simplify things a bit … and so these beauties came being. The filling is sweet, tangy, tart, fragrant & spiced deliciously with healing Ayurvedic spices. The pie crust is flaky and has just the perfect crunch factor, never mind the beautiful color imparted due to the added cinnamon & turmeric in the dough as well as the healing benefits of these powerful spices. These really are the perfect festive treat!

 

Ingredients:

For the Filling

·     1 cup dried figs, roughly chopped

·     1 cup raisins, roughly chopped

·     1 large red apple, peeled & grated (1 cup firmly packed)

·     ½ granny smith apple, peeled & grated (1/3 cup firmly packed)

·     1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons lemon juice

·     1/3 cup strawberry jam of choice

·     2.5 tablespoons maple syrup

·     Juice of 1 granny smith apple

·     1 tsp lemon zest

·     1 teaspoon of corn flour mixed with 1 teaspoon of water

·     1.5 tablespoons of ground cinnamon

·     ½ teaspoon turmeric

·     ½ teaspoon cardamom

·     ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

·     ½ teaspoon salt

 

For the Crust:

·     1.5 cups all-purpose flour

·     1/3 cup sugar (any sugar you like so long as it’s fine)

·     7 tablespoons chilled coconut oil

·     5 tablespoons cold water

·     1.5 teaspoons turmeric

·     ½ tablespoon cinnamon

·     ¾ teaspoon salt

·     2 tablespoons plant based milk for brushing the top of the pastry before baking

·     100g flaked almonds

·     3 tablespoons castor sugar (to top – optional)

 

Method:

1.       Prepare all of your ingredients for the filling. For example, peel & grate the apples, chop the figs & raisins, zest & juice the lemons etc. Once everything is prepared, go ahead & place all the ingredients except for the corn flour mixture into a pot and bring to the boil. Once it’s bubbling, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cook with the lid on (with a slight gap in the lid) for about 15 minutes. Keep your eye on it, stirring when necessary to ensure that it doesn’t burn the bottom of the pot. It will start to thicken as time goes by. The smell will fill the air with Christmas warmth.

2.     Then add the corn flour mixture in and cook for a further 3-5 minutes until it’s thickened up and there’s no more visible liquid (it looks like a thick jam-like consistency). Turn the heat off and allow to cool.

3.     For the pie crust, place the flour, sugar, salt & spices into a bowl or food processor and mix well. If your sugar isn’t fine, then you’ll want to blend it a bit first to ensure that it doesn’t mess with the texture of the dough.

4.     Slowly start to add the coconut oil into the flour and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Using the coconut oil when it’s chilled/solid is important for the structure of the dough. Then slowly start to add the water in, tablespoon by tablespoon until it starts coming together in a cohesive dough ball.

5.     Flour your work surface and start to roll your dough out until it is about 3mm thick. Make sure you roll the dough out evenly to ensure even cooking time.

6.    Find something that you can use to cut circular rounds out of your dough with. Personally, I used a glass that was the perfect size for the cupcake tray I used to bake my pies in. You want to find something that will create a circle that is just bigger than the circumference of your cupcake mold so that the edges of the pie dough come up the sides in order to hold the filling & create the ‘mince pie’.

7.     Find another smaller circular something that you can use to cut smaller circles out with, these will act as the pie crust “top”.

8.    Grease your cupcake tray with coconut oil and then place the bigger rounds of yellow dough into the cupcake molds creating a dough cup which will be the base of your mince pie. You can keep the edges as is or you can crimp them by using your fingers and pinching around the edges.

9.    Place the filling into the molds of dough, I used about 2 teaspoons of the filling but this will depend on the size of your cupcake or pie molds. Top the filling with the pie crust “top” (or otherwise known as the smaller circle of dough). Brush with plant based milk and place the tray into the fridge while the oven comes to temperature (180 degrees celsius or 356 fahrenheit).

10. When the oven has reached temperature, place the tray of mince pies into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. This will depend on the size of your pies, mine took exactly 20 minutes until they turned golden brown. Keep an eye on them. Due to the turmeric in the dough, it might be slightly harder to tell if they are golden from the turmeric color or the baking so keep checking on them.

11. While the mince pies are baking, toast your flaked almonds until lightly golden & fragrant.

12. When the mince pies are done, take them out of the oven and allow to cool. Top with flaked almonds and a light sprinkling of castor sugar. Serve as is, with a cup of tea. Or, if you want to go all out dessert-mode, they are divine served with some coconut whipped cream or vegan vanilla ice-cream!

I hope you enjoy these lovely mince pies as much as we did! My recipe made 21 mince pies (the filling recipe made 3 cups of filling – I was left with about half of that after making the 21 pies). These are also perfect for a warm Christmas gift, if you can resist munching them all before giving them to your loved one/ones. A gift with real heart and good energy put into it.