For obvious reason's I never quite got around to posting my recipe for November's We Should Cocoa challenge, which was to use apples along with chocolate. I knew at the time of setting this challenge that it isn't a pairing not to everyone's taste, if it helps anyone at all then rest assured that I struggled with this one too! Right before my mother in law was taken into hospital though I had a light bulb moment, which involved incorporating a recipe from the Hairy Bikers book I had just won, thanks to Kate from the wonderful blog What Kate Baked and a reworking of my Buttery Apple and Hazelnut Mincemeat from last year (or 2 years ago as it is now!!)
And this is what I ended up with ...
OK for a first attempt, although I had planned on fine tuning them a wee bit to perfect the recipe before Christmas landed on us all. Guess what? Perfection will need to wait till this Christmas ;0)
Buttery Apple and Pecan Mincemeat
1 large bramley apple (about 300g), grated (although next time I think I'll use a fine dice instead)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (maybe only 1/4 tsp next time?)
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
175g caster sugar
80 - 100g toasted pecans
Put the frangelico into a medium pan. Add the apple, butter, dried fruits, cinnamon and the seeds from the vanilla pod, along with the pod itself, and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, for 30 - 45 mins or until the apple has broken down, the dried fruits have plumped up and all the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool, then mix in the sugar and toasted pecans.
Spoon into cool, sterilised jars, press a waxed disc firmly onto the surface of the mixture and seal. Refrigerate and use within 1 month.
Makes enough for 24 - 36
To make these into festive pie's I used the chocolate pastry recipe from the Hairy Bikers 'Perfect Pies' book;
250g plain flour (plus extra for rolling)
175g cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp sifted icing sugar
2 tbsp sifted cocoa powder
1 large beaten egg
Measure out your ingredients and put in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces or cubes and add them to the flour. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Now add the egg, break it into a small bowl first if you want to. Add the liquid with one hand while stirring with a round bladed knife until the dough comes together and the sides of the bowl are clean.
Form the dough into a flattened ball and chill.
Makes enough dough for at least 24 festive pies.
Hairy Bikers - Perfect Pies
From memory I cheated with the dough and made it in the food processor. Rubbing butter into flour has never been my strong suit!
Once the dough had spent some time in the fridge (30 mins or so) I then rolled it out between 2 sheets of clingfilm, the Bikers advise to blind bake this dough but I figure I never blind bake pastry for mince pies so I wouldn't need to for these either so I didn't bother. I then used a cutter slightly larger than the cups in my mince pie tin ... you guys know how to do this, let's not suck eggs! Then a generous tsp of the mincemeat was added, along with a crumble topping (see below) before baking in a preheat 190C/fan 170C oven for approx 25 mins (check them after 15 though!)
50g plain flour
30g butter, at room temp
25g demerara sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
25g lightly toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and the cinnamon and work it a little more between your fingers until the mixture forms little nuggets. Stir in the hazelnuts.
Spoon 1 heaped tsp of crumble mix over each pie, then bake. Carefully remove to a rack. Leave for 3-4 mins, dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.
Makes enough crumble for 24 festive pies
Delicious, Dec 10
So there we have it, my entry for the November challenge. Better late then never!! And they tasted OK, Hubby thinks I overcooked them slightly, Sis In Law thinks they are perfect and I think they weren't too bad for a first go. They all disappeared anyway ;0)