One of the best bits about the holidays for me is all the baking and confections of the season. It’s the one time of year where you are likely to throw caution to the wind, indulge in all the festive sweets that your heart desires and chalk it up to holiday spirit. I personally think that is A-OK. That is, until the first day of the New Year when I can’t seem to fit into my stretchy yoga pants.

Over the weekend, my little baking assistant and I made magnificent mince pies. I discovered that these savory/sweet tiny tarts are perfect for little hands to help out with, and Geoffrey had loads of fun rolling then cutting out circles of pastry and spooning the mincemeat into each little case to be topped off with a star. Later we packaged the pies up all pretty and brought them across the road to share with family. They went down a treat and Geoffrey was delighted with himself.

I must say, mince pies in Ireland are so perfectly dainty and elegant looking. Even if you don’t like mincemeat, it’s impossibe to not pick up a parcel of these eye-catching pies delicately sprinkled with powdery icing sugar. They just seem to jump out at you when you’re browsing the market, oozing the essence of Christmas.

The beauty of mince pies came as a surprise to me, however, as, unless I am mistaken, you would be hard pressed to find mince pies trimming the aisles of every supermarket  in America at this time of year. (or any time of year, really) Remarkably, my grandmother made mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving every year as a part of her trinity of classic tarts: apple, pumpkin and mincemeat. Still, I do not recall witnessing a mince pie at a friend’s home nor a bakery or grocery store in the States. I remember as a child, we considered mincemeat pie extremely old-fashioned because only the adults took a slice for dessert. In our naïveté, we also thought it very strange that people would eat a ‘meat’ pie after a massive meaty meal.

At the weekend, my wee assistant and I will be hitting the kitchen again and attempting to make meringues for the first time. The recipe looks uncomplicated, but I’ve been told that either you can make them or not. I’m hoping for the former. Wish us luck!

Now, for more exciting holiday pressie news!  We put all the butchery course entries into a big milk pail and the farmer drew a name last evening. And, the winner of last week’s holiday giveaway is…drum roll please….Kristin Jensen! Congratulations Kristin, leave it to my farmer to pull another expat out of the mix! You will be joining me on 21st Feb at 6:30 and we will butcher the night away! Will be sending more details via email soon. Thanks so much to everyone for leaving a comment, even if you didn’t win a place on the course, I would encourage you to still sign up…it will be an excellent opportunity to learn about butchering techniques and where our meat comes from!

For my second lovely Christmas giveaway, I am very excited to announce that I have a stunning book from The History Press Ireland up for grabs. A Taste of Cork, A Gourmand’s Tour of its Food and Landscape by Seán Monaghan and Andrew Gleasure captures Cork’s rich and diverse landscape and presents it in a whole new light, combining the spectacular scenery with the artisan gourmet food producers who are so much a part of the culture. The book features Ummera Smoked Products, Cork’s English Market, Ardrahan Farmhouse Cheese and Lullaby Milk, McCarthys of Kanturk and many, many more sensational artisan food producers and beautiful Cork scenery. Leave a comment to be included in the draw. I will ship internationally!

Irish Mince Pies

For the homemade mincemeat

1lb sultanas

1lb beef suet (or a shredded veg suet)

8 oz mixed peel

2 oranges, juice and rind

6 tbsp brandy or cognac

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1lb raisins

2lb brown sugar

1lb cooking apples

2 lemons, juice and rind

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

In a large bowl, mix together all the dried fruit, suet, sugar and spices. Grate the apples and add in along with juice and zest from oranges and lemons.  Add brandy. Leave for 24 hours, then put into pots and seal.  (makes 8-10 jam jars)

For the pastry

200g/7oz plain flour, sifted

40g/1½oz caster sugar

75g/2¾oz ground almonds

125g/4½oz unsalted butter, diced

1 large free-range egg, beaten

milk, to glaze

Lightly butter a 12-hole pie/shallow muffin tin. Tip the mincemeat into a bowl and stir so that the liquid is evenly distributed.

Place the flour, sugar, almonds and butter in a food processor and process briefly until resembling breadcrumbs, then slowly add the egg. (Or rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand and stir in egg)

Bring the mixture together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour or so.

Thinly roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Cut out 12 circles with a fluted pastry cutter, large enough to fill the base of the prepared tin. Press gently into each hole, then fill with spoonfuls (as you like) of the mincemeat.

Cut out another 12 slightly smaller discs and 12 smaller stars and use to cover the mincemeat. Press the edges together to seal. Brush lightly with milk. Chill for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and serve warm with lashings of brandy butter.

Happy Holidays!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos & Styling by Imen McDonnell 2011

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75 Responses to “Merry Little Irish Mince Pies”

  1. 域名估价 says:

    恩,学习了,还得多学学有用的

  2. Katherine says:

    Please include me in the drawing for the beautiful book. My husband and I cannot wait to bring the kids over to see the gorgeous place we speak of often. Your photos are recipes are stunning.

  3. […] Merry Little Irish Mince Pies […]

  4. Imen, this post is so lovely from start to finish, and your styling and photography always strikes a chord with me. Just beautiful! I’m so glad we recently connected, and it’s been so nice getting a peek into your world there in Ireland–I think I mentioned to you before that my mother’s ancestors are all from Ireland, so I feel very connected to all things Irish. Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Holidays! xo

    • imen says:

      Thank you so much Rosie! Huge compliment coming from you….I love all that you do! Loving your Irish roots too. Happy Holidays! xx

  5. Marika Collins says:

    The pies are so lovely — and I’m intrigued by the book: Being married to an expat Irishman (Cork-born and raised), I’m confident we’d both get a real kick out of flipping through its pages. We’ve been away for far too long.

  6. Cliodhna says:

    Would love a copy of this book! Am Irish, live abroad – spent a lovely holiday in West Cork this summer pleasantly surprised by the eateries ( far from my memories as a child – actually don´t even know if there were eateries then ha ha)

    • imen says:

      Yes, there is such a vibrant food community in Ireland …has evolved even since I’ve been here in the last six years. Cork is a gem! Will put your name in the hat. Happy Christmas! x

  7. Evanna says:

    I would give my left arm for this book, I now live in London and miss Cork and its wonderful food so so much! Your mince pies are so cute! Merry Christmas and all the best for 2012 🙂

  8. Love your blog! So happy that I found you. I was in Ireland just this past summer with my Mom and was heartbroken that I had to return home! One day I will be back and with my family in tow. Thanks for allowing me to live through your wonderful posts. Looking forward to more!
    Cheers!
    Jennifer

    • imen says:

      Thank you! I hope you return to Ireland one day….such a beautiful place to be! You’re in the hat for the book! xx

  9. Kate Sheridan says:

    As a student of Irish food culture, I would love to have a copy of A Taste of Cork. Thanks for the lovely, inspiring blog!

    • imen says:

      Hi Kate, well, that is one good reason to win the book! Have put your name down. Thanks for your commment. Happy Holidays xx

    • imen says:

      Hi Kate, well, that is one good reason to win the book! Have put your name down. Thanks for your comment. Happy Holidays xx

  10. Ali says:

    They look scrumptious like everything else on your blog. I’d love to chance to see this book since my family came two generations ago from Cork!

  11. Mary says:

    Thanks for the recipe made them this afternoon they are delicious

  12. Malvina Beatrice says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I’m from Malaysia and would love to try it out. The pie looks amazing. Also count me in the drawing 🙂

  13. Eimear says:

    I chose to make Mince pies and brandy butter for my Home Economics practical, thinking it was an easy option and i’d fly through it. Not the case. I finished way after everybody else and my mince pies stuck to the tray and i was there trying to edge them out with a knife while everybody was staring at me. I was on the station right next to my teacher’s desk, i swear she was trying keep from laughing at me! A mortifying moment. I haven’t tried to make them since, but i just might try your recipe if i can get over the trauma! 😉

    • imen says:

      Eimear, that is a cute story…did you try to make them again? In fairness, pastry is not easy to work with for anyone! Thanks for your lovely comment, have your name in the hat for the book too. Imen xx

  14. Christina Anderson says:

    The mince pies look delish!

  15. Kit Mitchell says:

    Moments after finishing up baking mini mince pies, I sat down to read your blog and poof- a post on -mince pies. I shrieked with enthusiasm. Your recipe looks lovely and I will give it a go this weekend. Now that I am in full mincemeat immersion mode.
    Of course, I would love the cookbook-what’s not to like!
    Thank you for your lovely writings- I escape to Ireland via your words.
    Cheers,
    kit

  16. Colleen says:

    Here from Canada….Would love to try your mince pies, they look lovely and I’ve not had the patience to try making my own pastry!

    • imen says:

      Buy the pastry and do them…easy peasy. Thanks for your comment, I have you in for the book drawing too! x

  17. Annetje says:

    Thank you again for a lovely recipe with great photos. I will certainly try your mincemeat.
    (the cookerybook looks great also.)

  18. Marie says:

    We moved here from the States 18 months ago by way of Antigua. It was so nice to get back to a climate more conducive to the Christmas to which I am accustomed. Though I think Ireland is absolutely beautiful, I do miss my own country at this time of year. But I must confess, I am delighted to have discovered mince pies–yum! Can’t wait to try your recipe as the only ones I’ve had have been store-bought.

    • imen says:

      WOW. What a change! Though yes, the climate/seasons must be a nice change for you. Have you tried the mince pies? Where are you living? Will put you in for the book drawing! Thanks for visiting xx

  19. Cathy says:

    Love you blog. You bring to life your country side and how much you love your life and family. My favourite thing that my Mom bakes at Christmas is Mince Pies. They are tiny and tastey. I shall have to try the recipe that you have posted.
    Thanks (from Canada) for the chance to win this recipe book.

    • imen says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you are getting that from my blog…it’s fun to share. xx

  20. Rachael says:

    Imen,
    Your pictures are beautiful! I personally don’t know if I want to try a mince pie….is it savoury or sweet? but the pies themselves are so cute! I have to say the best bits of the holidays are all about baking and goodies for me as well….christmas isn’t christmas without some home baked goods!

  21. Kate Hipwell says:

    I have recently discovered your blog and am in love. I to adore the sweets on offer at this time of the year. My Grandmother’s mince pies are legendary, they could incite a family feud (as they are rapidly consumed by anyone who is lucky enough to be present as they come out of the oven) like nothing else.

  22. KathleenC says:

    My Gramma Devine made mincemeat pies, along with her apple and blueberry pies and fig bars. And for years I too thought they were actually made of meat… “How disgusting” tought the child. “How yummy!” thinks the adult now!
    Please do include me in your drawing… I would love to share that book with my Mom, the daughter of the excellent pie cook and a darn good cook in her own right.

  23. I have never tasted or made a mincemeat pie, but your little mini ones look so tempting and the way you present them is lovely. I’m enjoying your blog immensely, and I would love to get that cookbook, we have moved cross country this past year and all mind are in storage!

  24. Ann says:

    Hello! I discovered your blog a few weeks ago, and I enjoy it so much! I loved the time I spent in Cork a couple of years ago, and the book would be such a wonderful way to to relive some of my trip.

  25. june says:

    I’ve only just found your blog a couple of months ago, and I love it. Like yourself, I’m from the US (New York), and married an Irish….musician (who farms a bit round our back garden). I had to giggle when I read the bit about you (also) wondering why anyone would want to eat a ‘meat’ pie…not realising or knowing what ‘mincemeat’ is or what a mince pie was, back then. They’re gorgeous, aren’t they? A good friend of mine made some last weekend, packing a punch with some cognac! Potent as well as delicious. If it’s okay for someone in Ireland to also enter this draw/competition, please count me in. I’d love this cookbook (I’m a cookbook-aholic, and always looking for more – especially Irish and regional ones, that are seemingly getting more and more difficult to find lately).

    Thanks for the recipe, Imen. And keep ‘em coming. They’re dee-lish. As is your blog!

    • imen says:

      Wow, where are you located in Ireland? Love it! Thanks for your comment, will def put you in for the draw! xx

  26. june says:

    I’ve only just found your blog a couple of months ago, and I love it. Like yourself, I’m from the US (New York), and married an Irish….musician (who farms a bit round our back garden). I had to giggle when I read the bit about you (also) wondering why anyone would want to eat a ‘meat’ pie…not realising or knowing what ‘mincemeat’ is or what a mince pie was, back then. They’re gorgeous, aren’t they? A good friend of mine made some last weekend, packing a punch with some cognac! Potent as well as delicious. If it’s okay for someone in Ireland to also enter this draw/competition, please count me in. I’d love this cookbook (I’m a cookbook-aholic, and always looking for more – especially Irish and regional ones, that are seemingly getting more and more difficult to find lately).

    Thanks for the recipe, Imen. And keep ’em coming. They’re dee-lish. As is your blog!

  27. Mince pies in this house are made by himself. He couldn’t go through Christmas without them. When I met him first he used to give them as gifts. Now they didn’t look anything like those fab dainty ones in your photos. No, think more large pies made by someone with big hands and more used to wielding a shovel! Lovely post as usual.

  28. Sinéad says:

    It’s all adjectives here Imen – yummy, gorgeous, spicy, crumbly and so on………Another recipe for my Christmas larder!!!! Memories here of the smell of mince pies wafting through the house and snuggled up on the sofa, waiting for them to come out of the oven. Thanks again Sinéad

  29. Fiona says:

    imenn, a little tip before you start your meringues. Rinse all utensils in boiling water and dry with a clean towel. Would love to be entered in the draw, seeing as I am from Cork, like, boy !!

  30. Hello! I love your blog and would love to have the book you’re giving away. I have one of Darina Allen’s cookbooks and just need this one to go with it. My heart is half Irish and my soul is ALL Irish, so thanks for the wonderful information about that fabulous country. Your pictures are lovely!

  31. Una Ni Chinnseallaigh says:

    Great website! Definitely will try the mince pie recipe! My mother may be impressed by my baking for once!! That book is a great prize!

  32. Love your photography and styling, it’s always so perfect! Thanks for the opportunity to win the book, looks a good one!

  33. Kristin says:

    I’m thrilled to have won the place on the butchery course, thanks a million for the opportunity! It will be a blast to be there with a fellow Midwesterner. x

    • imen says:

      We are going to have a blast! x

    • Amit says:

      I’ve been 4 years in UK as well, from a country whoitut mince pies… and I still don’t appreciate them much :-(but I’m going to give a go to the Waitrose’s ones and let you know.xC.

  34. Mairead says:

    I love mince pies so much, especially when they are accompanied by a dollop of fresh cream. Made some this weekend. This book looks fantastic. My parents are both from Cork, so I grew up on Cork cooking. When we would annoy Mom and ask what’s for dinner, she always answered “pigs and duadlaman (pronounced doodlamaan). Bet the recipe didn’t quite make this lovely book! Thanks for a great giveaway.

  35. Loving your recipe my daughter loves mince pies, your blog Imen is amazing, Love Happy Holidays xo

  36. laura says:

    They look delicious. I wish I could eat one! 🙂
    I have a very definite early childhood memory of making a mince meat tart with a friend of my mother’s who was minding me for the day. I loved rolling the pastry etc. It is a fantastic activity for children, mince pies and gingerbread men. I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to do Christmas baking with me! (She is only 18 months now). Nigella has a great mincemeat recipe without suet. (Which is very useful because suet isn’t a common store cupboard ingredient most of the time!). http://goo.gl/TFMgu

  37. Melinda says:

    I am enjoying your blog more and more! The pictures are beautiful and I love all the holiday centered recipes. I’m in Montana and would love to be in your drawing…if you ship that far. Going to try the pies this weekend!

  38. Kate Packwood says:

    Hi Imen,
    Going home to make these right now, they look delicious!
    Please include me in the draw for the lovely book. Many thanks, K

  39. Dee Sewell says:

    I was just looking at the butchering course as a gift for my husband – am sure it would be a really useful skill to master. Your mince pies look wonderful – much more polished than mine ever seem to appear!

  40. Móna Wise says:

    How cute. You and Kristen will have a great time at the butchery course I am sure. I do not remember ever liking mince pies as a child but really do love them now. There is a bakery here in Galway called the Gourmet Tart that make the best I have every eaten. Love your photos Imen. Very pretty.

    • imen says:

      Mona, I read that the Superquinn mince pies actually come from a lovely bakery in Galway, I wonder if it’s the same! The butchery class is going to be great fun with Kristin. Thanks for your comment Mona! xx

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