Mince Pies - from Scotland

by jptanabe

Mince pies, or mincemeat pies, are a traditional British Christmas food.

As soon as the weather starts to get cooler and the holiday season approaches I think about mince pies! That may sound strange, but they are one of my favorite foods from Christmas when I was a child. This is the first Christmas since my mother passed away, and with my father having passed several years before, I won't be "going home" to my parents house for Christmas any more.

But, I can relive my happy memories through eating Walkers Mince Pies!

Memories of mince pies

I have lovely memories of helping my mother and sister make the mince pies every Christmas. In the really old days we made the mincemeat from scratch. It's not really hard at all, just an extra step in the process that has to be done ahead of time. A few years on we started buying the mincemeat - Robertson's was the one. We still made the short crust pastry and baked them ourselves. Oh, what a lovely aroma mince pies baking in the oven have!

After I left home, though, when I did return for Christmas we didn't make the pies any more. There was too much to do, and too little time. So we started eating store bought ones. And, they're really good! Of course, you heat them up and serve them with the same cream - the thick real cream that pours out of a jug, not fake whipped cream! My father loved real cream so there was usually a little container of it in the fridge ready for his "puddings." I always helped with it when I went home.

At some point my mother and sister became vegetarian. Now, you might think this would put a damper on our mince pie eating. Not so! Mince pies are not made from meat. Oh no, even though the mince is short for mincemeat, and in Britain they call ground beef "minced meat" or "mince" for short, mincemeat has no meat in it.

Walkers Mince Pies

Reading the description of these Walkers Mince Pies really made me smile, and remember Christmas when I was young. Walkers are famous for their shortbread, another of my favorite foods but for any time of year! And, of course, they are located in Scotland, which is where I grew up. So Walkers Mince Pies make me happy.

 

What is mincemeat?

Mincemeat is made of dried fruits (apples, currants, raisins, sultanas), ginger, candied citrus peels, suet, spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon), and a dash of brandy (or other alcohol). The ingredients are cooked together which causes the suet to melt and coat the fruits. It is then allowed to cool, and the alcohol is added - which keeps it moist as well as adding flavor. It is prepared at least several days before use, and keeps for months, probably years if you add enough brandy!

Important note for vegetarians

Suet is originally beef fat, which would certainly not be vegetarian. But, in this amazing age, there is now vegetarian suet! Of course it doesn't have quite the same consistency, but it works really well in mincemeat. So, vegetarians, like my mother and sister, could still enjoy mince pies!

MINCE PIES HAVE NO MEAT!

Even the suet (that used to be beef fat) now comes in a vegetarian version

To make your own mince pies

Of course homemade is really the best! But making the mincemeat from scratch is another story. What works really well is to buy a jar of mincemeat, like Robertson's. Then it's easy to make the pies by cutting out circles of pastry (for the top and bottom), adding the mincemeat, cooking them in a muffin pan, and sprinkling them with sugar. Then serve them hot with cream!

Mincemeat

Robertson's make great mincemeat. This is imported from the UK (for those who live in the United States) - so it's the real deal!

Contains: Currants, Apples, Raisins, Sultanas, Candied Mixed Peel, Treacle, and a bunch of spices.

Muffin pan

Yes, a muffin pan is great for baking mince pies!

This is what I use - a regular non-stick muffin pan. Perfect size for individual mince pies!

Pie Crust - there's even gluten free!

Now I don't use this myself. I just use regular pie crust. Sometimes I even make my own (and that's the best!)

But if you need your pies to be gluten-free, don't worry. You can buy gluten-free pie crust mix!

Updated: 12/08/2016, jptanabe
 
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jptanabe on 11/20/2015

Monkey faces - how cute!

dustytoes on 11/20/2015

This reminds me of my grandmother's "monkey faces", which were cookies with mincemeat inside. I didn't like mincemeat so she would make some with jam filling. Like you, this reminds me of family times.

frankbeswick on 11/18/2015

Let's hope that your eldest brother accesses Wizzley to read your wishes.

Veronica on 11/18/2015

I like Cointreau cream with mine. Just mixing a spoonful of this orange liqueur into the cream before whipping it, takes the mince pies to another level yet.

jptanabe on 11/18/2015

Yes, Frank, cream or custard. Personally I'm for cream. The good thing about small individual pies is you can believe you are not over indulging (if you eat just one!).

frankbeswick on 11/18/2015

My mother used to make a large mince pie, which we would have with either cream or custard. The trouble is that I have to watch my waistline.

Veronica on 11/18/2015

In Northern England we usually eat shortbread at New Year . It is one of my favourite gifts to receive. And unfortunately , I could eat the whole box if I allowed myself to do so.

My oldest brother and his wife sometimes buy us some ...hint hint ..... ;)

jptanabe on 11/18/2015

Absolutely! Walkers make excellent shortbread and mince pies - not as good as home made of course. But so much better than missing out altogether due to not making any!

jptanabe on 11/18/2015

Yes, that sounds right! When I lived in Scotland what is called ground beef here in the US was called mince.

Mira on 11/18/2015

This sounds wonderful. No mincemeat in stores here. I love that it's in a jar rather than canned. I love the look of the Walkers mince pies. Are they good?


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