Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chocolate Orange Mincemeat – shouts Christmas louder than a chorus of drunken carollers

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For me, chocolate and orange are the two flavours that sing out louder than a chorus of drunken carollers “Christmas is Here! Christmas is Here! “ And guess what? They absolutely love each other’s company.
This year I went through my (now dog-earred) copy of The Flavour Thesaurus and picked out other flavours that adore chocolate and like to hang out with each other as well.  

Don't be put off by the list of ingredients - it's mostly an assembly job.
See? Assembly job!

For approximately 4 jars of mincemeat, you will need...
... to pre-heat the oven to 180°C   
300g sultanas
100g ready-to-eat prunes (e.g. no stone), finely chopped
100g dried sour cherries (or dried cranberries), finely chopped
300g ready-to-eat dried apricots, finely chopped
100g mixed peel (this is finely chopped candied peel of oranges and lemons)
100g walnuts, finely chopped
220g dark brown sugar
200g grated apple (I used Granny Smiths)
125g butter, cut into cubes
finely grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg)
5 coriander seeds, crushed (or ¼ teaspoon ground coriander)
3 allspice berries, crushed (or ground allspice, but not mixed spice)
2 whole cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons Cointreau (or other orange liqueur) + an additional 2 tablespoons to stir in at the end 

Mix all the ingredients together in a large oven-proof dish with a lid. Cover and place in the preheated oven and cook gently for 3 hours, stirring every half hour or so (set a timer... )

When the cooking time has elapsed, remove from the oven and allow to cool, stirring briefly every half hour until cold. This keeps the butter evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Finally, stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of Cointreau (or other orange liqueur) into the cooled mixture before sealing in clean, dry jars.

It will keep well for up to a year in a cool dark place or in the fridge - but I can’t really see the point in that!

With these fairy-size piece, you can eat three without a hint of guilt!
For the fairy-sized mince pies in the photos, stamp out rounds of short crust pastry using a 5cm (2 inch) scone cutter and use them to line a mini-muffin tin. Fill them to the top with the cooked, cooled mixture. Bake for about 10 minutes at 180°C. 

For regular-sized mince pies, use a 7.5cm cutter (2½ inch) for the base and a 6cm cutter (2¼ inch) for the lids. Fill, seal and bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 165°C or until a pale golden brown. Remember to poke two holes in the top of each with a sharp knife to let the steam out and stop them bursting open.

I prefer my mince pies warm from the oven (the microwave is death to pastry) with a swirl of fresh cream. A touch of Cointreau in the cream is optional.

It's snowing!
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