Sweet mince pies are traditional British confectionary served during the festive season. If you are British, you’ll know exactly how delicious these are already. If you’ve not yet heard of them, then you are in for a real treat! Today I am sharing a delightful version, made gluten-free, vegan and naturally sweetened.
The filling is made with dried fruits along with warming, winter spices and lemon. The flavours dance together to perfection, tantalising the tastebuds with an exciting infusion of seasonal deliciousness.
The pastry for this recipe is – OMG – de-e-e-e-licious! I am using my shortcrust gluten-free, vegan pastry, sweetened with maple syrup – true Conscious Kitchen style.
We start creating these Sweet Mince Pies by soaking the dried fruits overnight. I use lemon along with a dash of water and small amount of maple syrup, then a delightful medley of warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
If you are living in the UK, you can also ‘cheat’ with the spices, by popping into a health food store or super market and getting ‘mixed spice’ ready made up for you instead.
All you need to do to make the sweet mince, is mix up the ingredients and then forget about them overnight. A gorgeous alchemy will happen. The raisins soak up the liquid and spices to perfection. You blend with a few pulses the next morning and it’s ready to use. Easy.
Making the gluten-free vegan pastry
There’s a little bit of an art to creating gluten-free pastry. I’ve tried it all different ways, including the traditional method of using a rolling pin. Gluten-free pastry (Conscious Kitchen style) is more crumbly to work with than traditional wheat pasty – although once it bakes, it holds together wonderfully. Once you taste it, you’ll know exactly why it is worth the effort!
The easiest way I’ve found is to forget about rolling, and instead, work it with my hands. Once I’ve created a pastry ball. I grab a dollop of the stuff and mould it into the cupcake tin by hand. It becomes easy to do once you get the hang of it.
If find that working with my hands in this way gives me more time to connect with each little pie and to make sure that I am coming from a loving place as I make it. Then as I share these little pies with friends, I really know in my heart that they’ve been made with love.
You can buy a small shaped cookie cutter to make the stars for the top. However, I did these ones by hand, since I don’t have a star shaped cutter available by now. You can do other patterns or create simple strips instead.
To make the topping, it’s easiest to roll a little bit of pastry out with a rolling pin, a glass jar – or simply press a little piece of pastry down with your hand – and then cut it.
The pastry will be a little fragile to work with (a bit inevitable with gluten-free), so you might need to be patient with this part. I use a spatula to scoop it up, then carefully slide it on top of the pie.
OK – let’s make these…
Sweet mince filling
- 150g raisins (1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (loose)
- 1 lemon (medium sized)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (loosely grated)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 100g rice flour
- 100g tapioca flour (or tapioca starch)
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
Making the sweet mince
- Start by soaking the sweet mince in a bowl overnight (or for at least three hours).
- Grate about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, using a fine grater.
- Juice the lemon.
- Mix all the sweet mince ingredients together and allow to soak. Mix in, a couple of times during the soak period if you remember.
- Once soaked, the raisins will be plumper as it should have absorbed most of the soak liquid. Pulse the mixture with a hand blender a few times or use a regular jug blender - to create a rustic sweet mince 'mush'.
Making the pastry
- Make sure the coconut oil is warm and melted.
- Mix all of the pastry ingredients together. Use a spoon at first and then work with your hands. If your kitchen is cold, then the coconut oil may solidify... in which case, the warmth of your hands will help to keep it soft and pliable.
- Once you create a dough pastry ball, take 2/3 of the mixture to use to as the pastry bases.
- You will need a shallow cupcake tin with 12 cupcake indents. Divide the mixture into about 12 mini dollops and then press each dollop into the the cupcake tin. Evenly shape it. See my photo above, to check out what I mean. This might seem slightly fiddly at first, but it gets easier (and is so worth it!).
- Once you've shaped the pie bases, divide the sweet mince mixture between the 12 pies.
- Create pastry topping with the remaining mixture. Roll (or press out) and create little strips or lattice patterns or if you can, make stars, holly shapes or be random with whatever takes your fancy.
- Bake in a preheated oven (gas mark 5/ 375F/ 180C) for about 20 minutes.
- (If you have spare pastry just roll it out and bake for about 12 - 15 minutes and enjoy as a cookie!).
- Once baked, allow to cool and serve. They should freeze well if you don't want to eat immediately. They should also keep for at least a good few days in the kitchen or in the fridge too.
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