Almond & Coconut Mince Pies
I have to admit, before now I’d never given mince pies the time of day. Festive treason, I know! But a crime whose punishment I’ve paid in the form of all the years I missed out on them. If I’m honest, they just never appealed as much as all the other exciting foodiness on offer. Yule log, clementines, chocolate, mulled wine.. the christmas crowd is a tough one and they could never compete.
Thankfully I am now old enough to appreciate a mince pie. Does that make me an adult? I do feel that learning to like these things is a rite of passage. Like enjoying wine, fruitcake or the first sprout that doesn’t make you gag. As part of this new discovery I decided to make some healthier mince pies.
These pies come out slightly bigger and more substantial than the shop bought ones, which just leave you wanting more. They’re also super satisfying and don’t have any of that gross, powdery, sugary sweetness which just sends your blood sugar sky high. The base is made out of ground almonds and desiccated coconut, which makes it entirely gluten free and provides a huge dose of vitamin E. It’s held together by dates, which gives it a rich, buttery taste and balances out the sweetness of the filling. There is also a subtle coconuttyness (definitely a word) which is lovely with the spiced mincemeat. The mincemeat itself contains no added or refined sugars, (or mince for that matter, this may seem obvious but my 19 year old brother did ask me if I was making a vegetarian version..)
For the Base
- 250g ground almonds
- 150g desiccated coconut
- Sea salt
- 400g dates (soaked in boiled water for at least 20 minutes)
- 6 tbsp coconut oil
- 6 tbsp water
- 1 bowl of flour for kneading (I used rice flour but any will work)
For the Mincemeat
- 2 medium-sized red apples
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- Zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 300g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, cranberries, currants.. whatever you like)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a muffin tray with coconut oil and set aside.
- First make the mincemeat. Cut the apple in to small, 1cm sized pieces.
- Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan, add the vanilla, orange juice, spices and chopped apple and simmer for 4 minutes.
- Add the zest and dried fruit, stir well and leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes until really soft.
- Now make the base. In a food processor blitz the ground almonds, coconut and salt to form a fine flour.
- Add the drained dates, water and melted coconut oil and combine. This may take a while and your processor may sound like its dying, but be patient (and maybe add a bit more water if it really starts screaming).
- When its smooth and fully combined, scoop the dough out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle the dough and your hands with more flour.
- Knead the dough, adding more flour until it is not at all sticky.
- Use your fingers to press bits of the dough into each pie mould. Remember that the dough will rise slightly so don’t make the bases too thick or they’ll be all pie and no mince! There should also be some dough leftover for the tops.
- Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.
- Roll out the leftover dough and use biscuit cutters to cut out the tops for the pies.
- When the bases are ready spoon 1-2 tbsp mincemeat into each pie, carefully place the tops on and bake for a further 10 minutes until firm and golden brown.
- Leave to cool and harden for 30 minutes, then use a knife to carefully scoop out each pie. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!