christmas mince pies in foil paper

Boozy mince pies: let the Christmas fun be-gin

At this time of year, the pre-Christmas nibbling has probably already begun.
Mince pies are one of the most traditional of all English treats at Christmas time – and for many, they are the taste of Christmas. But if you’re not brought up with this tradition, it’s sometimes quite difficult to get your head around the term “mince pie”. In fact, these days, there’s absolutely no meat to be found inside a traditional mince pie.

These sweet little pies have been decorating English Christmas tables since the 13th century when they were first brought to England by crusaders returning from the Middle East. The original Mediterranean recipes included meats, fruits and spices representing the symbolism of the gifts delivered to the baby Jesus by the Magi. In fact, in the early days, mince pies were actually rectangular and “manger-shaped” and were often topped with a pastry image of the Christ Child.

From crusader cuisine to rich, sweet Christmas pies

Over the centuries, these tasty sweet and savoury treats began to lose the savoury.  In fact, these days, the meat has been removed altogether, in favour of traditional sweet mincemeat – a rich mixture of chopped, dried fruit, spices, sugar and distilled spirits. 

The fruits usually include chopped apple, fresh citrus peal, currants, candied fruits, citron and brandy or rum. It’s then all mixed together and aged so that the flavours deepen and the texture changes to a dark, sticky, boozy Christmas goo! This gorgeous mixture is then encased in little pastry packages of buttery goodness and baked. 

Once out of the oven, they receive a final light dusting of sugar powder to finish it all off. 

For the final step: top with a little cream or brandy butter and pop this little sweet, spicy, steamy Christmas parcel into your mouth. Christmas will follow. 

This amazing mince pie mixture is unlikely to last you the whole festive season, but if you maintain your discipline, it can be stored for up to 10 years. 

Sloe is better

But what if we were to substitute a little gin where traditionally there was rum or brandy?

And even better, what about sloe gin?

If that’s more to your taste, then here’s a simple little mince pie recipe that means you don’t have to mix your spirits – just stick with gin!

These festive pies are made with lashings of sloe gin for a truly festive blast of boozy, fruity, seasonal goodness and they’re really easy to make. We recommend using Sipsmith Sloe Gin for this recipe, with its deep, warming sloe-ness. But you can choose any sloe gin you prefer – or even use your own if you have some home made sloe already in the house.

Mince pies recipe

Ingredients:

Mince pies
  • 300g fresh cranberries
  • 300g dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots etc.)
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 40z Sipsmith Sloe Gin
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp nutmeg
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 1 orange

For the pastry:

Mince pies
  • 350g flour
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Icing sugar (to dust)

Method:

Mince pies
  1. Heat the sloe gin and brown sugar in a saucepan, stirring until all sugar has dissolved
  2. Stir in the dried fruit, spices and grate ion the zest from the orange
  3. Add the cranberries and squeeze in the juice from the orange. Leave to stew for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove from heat and place to the side while you make your pastry
  5. Rub the flour and butter together in a bowl until it forms a crumbly mixture
  6. Add the sugar and egg and knead together into a dough
  7. Roll the pastry out and use a circle cookie cutter to cut dough circles to the right size for your muffin tins
  8. Squeeze the dough circles into your muffin tin and generously fill with mincemeat
  9. Top each pie with a pastry star, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the oven for 18 minutes at 220C
  10. Pour one glass of Sipsmith Sloe Gin for you. Pour another one for Santa. Sit back and hope you’re not on the naughty list.

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • 5 “go to” classic gins you can rely on
    In this new world of 1000 gins, sometimes too much choice can be your enemy.  We all know about the recent explosion of craft gins and often they can be quite expensive.  So, it’s good to have a handful of “old faithfuls” classic gins that you know you can rely on for a good, standard … Continued
  • Gin Gazpacho: for when the heat is on!
    When the heat is on and you just want something light, healthy and easy for lunch you could do worse than reach for a chilled bowl of home made Gazpacho soup.  But we started thinking about making this traditional Spanish summer soup with the help of a little gin, so we began looking for recipes … Continued
  • Home-made Pimms – put a little sunshine in your life
    We’re now well and truly into summer and the social season lies ahead of us.  In the UK we have three of the most social events of the year coming up including Wimbledon this week (where people watch tennis and drink Pimms); the Henley Royal Regatta (where boaters in straw hats row, while people drink … Continued
  • Small bottle, big label: the story behind Angostura bitters
    We recently published a little article about gin and bitters (including Angostura) – a pairing almost as old as gin itself. As cocktails become more daring and our tastes become more and more exotic, we are constantly searching for new twists and flavours to make sure we get the very best out of our drinks. … Continued

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *