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This is a mince pie carnival by Alex Mackay, who has used brown sugar pastry with a sensual waft of vanilla to give this recipe a luxury twist. Check out his mincemeat recipe below to make fully authentic homemade mince pies.



The Pastry

  • 350g plain flour
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 24 tbsp (approx 480g), either homemade, or shop bought mincemeat

Chestnut Frangipane

  • 1, 200g pack of Merchant Gourmet Whole Chestnuts
  • 80g icing sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting
  • 80g soft unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp brandy or rum (optional)
  • 1 large egg yolk



Prep ahead You can make the pies up to the point of adding the chestnut frangipane and then freeze them uncooked, in their tins, a month or so in advance. You then defrost them overnight, top them with the chestnut frangipane then continue as below.

1. Preheat your oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.

2. To make the pastry, put the flour and brown sugar into your food processor. Add the butter and pulse just enough for the mixture to become grainy. Add the egg yolk, vanilla essence and water. Pulse until the pastry is just combined. Tip it onto your work surface (get all of the pastry out, but there is no need to wash the bowl of your food processor before the next step) then knead the pastry briefly until it is smooth.

3. Put the pastry onto a large piece of floured cling film. Pat the pastry to flatten it into a 30cm square. Wrap and then refrigerate for 30 minutes; just enough to make the pastry firm rather than hard.

4. Next, make the chestnut frangipane. Remove the 6 biggest and prettiest whole chestnuts, cut them in quarters then set aside. Put the remaining chestnuts and the icing sugar into the bowl of the food processor that you used for your pastry. Blend for 1 minute. Add the butter and egg yolk then blend until combined. Set aside.

5. Dust the pastry with flour. Roll out to a 50x40cm rectangle between two layers of floured clingfilm. Lift off the top layer of clingfilm. Cut out 24 circles with the 7cm pastry cutter, lift off the trimmings then squash them together. Wrap the trimmings in clingfilm and store for another batch.

6. Gently push the pastry circles into the bottoms of the bun tins.

7. Spoon a heaped dessertspoon (roughly 1 tbsp) of mincemeat into each pie. Cover with 1 heaped teaspoon frangipane. Smooth over with a small palette knife. Push a chestnut quarter into the centre of each pie. Dust with icing sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.