Friday, January 7, 2011

MINCE PIES, A FORBIDDEN TREAT

Mince pies Picnik collage 3 bis
In 2010 I decided that I was going to prepare my very first mincemeat for Yuletide. I planned on having a 100% British dinner and didn't want serve anything too heavy or rich as we had absolutely no desire to have bursting stomachs, feel unwell, sick and bloated...

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"Mince Pies" (also called "Minced Pies") are British mini shortcrust pies or tartlets which are filled with mincemeat and eaten during the Christmas holidays (though it seems that during the Easter festivities you can sometimes find those pies - with a cross on the top - in stores too). The origin of those petits fours can be traced back to the 13th century when European crusaders returned from their campaigns in the Middle East where they tried to recapture the Holy Land and Jerusalem. At that time the people living in those far-away regions cooked many sweet and savory meat dishes which included fruits as well as spices (they still do). During the Middle Ages our cuisine was highly influenced by the culinary prowesses of the Orient, hence it is not surprising to learn that this combination was also very popular in our hemisphere.

In Tudor England they were often called "Shrid Pies" and consisted of shredded meat, fruits, suet and spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg). By 1596, they were also known under the name of "Mutton Pie" and "Christmas Pies". In the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras they were defined as "Minched pies".

"Mince Pies" have always been
associated with Catholic idolatry and considered a kind of consecrated cake. During the English Civil War (1642–1651) they were banned by the Puritan (English protestants) authorities who regarded them as sinful due to the guilty, forbidden pleasures they confered. Cromwell hated Christmas which was not sanctioned by the Bible and saw it as a pagan holiday promoting gluttony and drunkennes. Nevertheless, the tradition of eating "Mince Pies" on Christmas day was perpetuated long after that sad episode and is still well-alive today. The recipe has evolved over time. It is during the 19th century that those tartlets radically changed by becoming sweeter, not containing meat anymore, being reduced in size and altered in shape (early pies were much larger, oblong in shape and supposed to represent Jesus's crib).

Like all English folks my grandparents made "Mince Pies" solely in December and didn't break that old tradition. Speaking of that, here's an interesting fact for you: Cromwell's law forbidding the consumption of anything linked to gluttony (puddings and mince pies mainly) has never been rescinded, so "Mince Pies" are still illegal on Christmas Day. Hilariously ludicrous, no? That leads me to wonder why nobody ever gets rid of certain conventions and starts baking those pastries on other occasions. It is such an incredibly luscious goodie that it seems a pity to eat it only once every 12 month!

Of course, you could argue and bring up the fact that those pies carry a religious symbolism and that anything related to the birth of Christ has no reason of being produced out of that sacred moment of the year -though it must be said that their meaning is nowadays quite obsolete (most British citzens are surely incapable of explaining why they are holy) and taken a lot less seriously than at the time of their creation. That is totally ok if you are a Christian but in my opinion, if you are not a god-fearing believer then I reckon that it is not a blasphemy at all to enjoy "Mince Pies" when you feel like doing so. Not eating them more often, now that is what I would qualify as sacrilegious!

Mincemeat used as filling for "Mince Pies" is a preserve that can be stocked for a while (if one adds suet just before putting it in jars) and can be made all year long since it's components are available most of the time. So it would be awfully sad not to enjoy this delicacy whenever you feel like it.

Imagine going for a picnic in spring, organizing a potluck, a wedding or a birthday party, enjoying a divine pudding wine while admiring the stunning fall scenery or celebrating Easter... I bet you have no problem picturing yourself gobbling one of those gorgeous little pies during those events . So, I think we should declare that "Mince Pies" are too scrummy to be consumed exclusively during a restricted period of time!!!

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I was really satisfied with my "Mince Pies" as they were flawless and reminded me of those I had tasted in England. The pastry was delicately flaky, tender and baked to perfection (just ever so slightly golden) and the interior was exquisitely moist, mouthwateringly citrusy, subtly spicy and blissfully fragrant (thanks to my well-ripened mincemeat).
To die for!

Mince pies 4 bis
~ Mince Pies ~
Recipe for the "Shortcrust Pastry" by Rosa's Yummy Yums 2011.

Makes 18 pies.


Ingredients:
350g All-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 Tbs Powder sugar
1 Tsp Sea salt (fine)

120g Unsalted butter, cold and cut into little cubes
60g Lard, cold and cut into little cubes
4-10 Tbs Cold water
1 1/2 Jam jars (about 375-450g) mincemeat
Castor sugar for decorating

Method:
1. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a bowl, add the butter and lard. With the hel
p of a pastry blender, work them together until the mixture fine breadcrumbs or coarse sand.
2. Add the water (quantity depending on the himidity of the air) and with the help of a table knife stir until the mixture comes together and forms a pastry ball.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly until smooth.
4. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 18 x 8cm rounds using a fluted (or not) cutter and re-kneading and rolling the trimmings.
5. Lightly grease the cupcake tins (I made 18 little pies) with butter and line with the pastry
discs, then prick lightly with a fork.
6. Spoon 1-1.5 Tbsp mincemeat into each case.
7. Now with the leftover patry cut out 18 x 6cm pastry rounds or 18 stars (alternative pie lids),
re-rolling as necessary.
8. Brush the edges of the pies with water or egg wash and
press lids down onto the bases, sealing well.

Mince pies Picnik collage 5 bis
9. Chill for 20 minutes.
10. Preheat the oven to 190° C (375° F).
11. Brush the lids with water and sprinkle with castor sugar.
12. Bake for 26 minutes or until very lightly golden.
13. Remove from the oven and let the mince pies cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove them delicately from the pan and place them on a wire rack.

Remarks:
If you don't want to use lard, them replace it by white vegetable shortening or butter.

It is possible to freeze the unbaked pies in the trays (for at least 4 hours or overnight) and then transfer the frozen pies to plastic boxes, layered with baking paper between. In that way they can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months (to cook, bake from frozen but for a few minutes longer than indicated previously).
The pies can be kept for up to a week at room temperature in an airtight box.

Serving suggestions:

Serve warm or cold with a dollop whipped cream, clotted cream or brandy butter.


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Mince Pies Picnik collage 1 bis
~ Mince Pies ~
Recette par Rosa's Yummy Yums

Pour 18 tartelettes.

Ingrédients:
350g de Farine blanche (+ un peu pour saupoudrer)
1 1/2 CS de Sucre en poudre
1 CC de Sel de mer fin

120g de Beurre non-salé, froid et coupé en cubes
60g de Saindoux,
froid et coupé en cubes
4-10 CS d'eau froide
1 1/2 Pots à confiture de mincemeat (environ 375-450g)
Sucre cristallisé pour décorer


Méthode:
1. Tamiser la farine avec le sucre et le sel dans un bol. Ajouter le beurre et le saindoux. Les travailler ensemble afin d'obtenir un mélange sableux.
2. Mélanger avec un couteau de table tout en ajoutant assez d'eau afin d'obtenir une boule de
pâte.
3. Sur une surface farinée, légèrement/rapidement pétrir la pâte, puis l'étaler.
4. Couper 18 ronds (flutés) de 8cm de diamètre (réutiliser les restes de pâte).
5. Beurrer des moules à cupcakes (18 trous) et garnir avec les ronds de pâte, puis piqu
er les fonds.
6. Garnir chaque tartelette avec 1-1.5 CS de mincemeat.

7. Découper 18 ronds de 6cm de diamètre avec la pâte restante ou 18 étoiles (couvercles).
8. Humidifier les bords des tartelettes avec de l'eau (ou du jaune d'oeuf) et souder les couvercles en appuyant avec les doigts sur les bords des tartelettes.


Mince Pies Picnik collage 2 bis
9. Mettre au frigo pendant 20 minutes.
10. Préchauffer le four à 190° C.
11. Peindre le dessus des couvercles avec de l'eau et saupoudrer avec du sucre cristallisé.
12. Cuire pendant 26 minutes, jusqu'à ce que les tartelettes soient très légèrement dorées.
13. Sortir les tartelettes du four, puis les sortir des moules après 5 minutes de repos. Mettre les tartelettes à refroidir sur une grille.

Remarks:
Si vous ne voulez pas utiliser de saindoux, alors vous pouvez soit le remplacer par de la margarine soit par du beurre.

Les tartelettes peuvent être congelées non-cuites. Placez-les sur une plaque et mettez cette plaque au moins 4 heures au congélateur jusqu'à ce qu'elles soient congelées. Puis les mettre dans une boîte et les conserver au congélateur pendant 3 mois maximum (cuisson sans les dégeler + augmenter le temps de cuisson).
Conserver ces tartelettes une semaine maximum à température ambiante dans une boîte hermétique.

Idées de présentation:
Servir les Mince Pies froids au chauds, avec de la cr
ème chantilly, de la clotted cream ou du brandy butter.

Mince Pies Picnik collage 4 bis

102 comments:

  1. Your first mince pies make it look like you've been doing this for a while, Rosa. They look delicious. Plus, I love anything with the word 'forbidden' in it (smile)!!
    Hope you have a happy and rewarding 2011...

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  2. Wow, that crust looks perfect! Love the history lesson too, quite interesting!

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  3. Very informative post, Rosa! Thank you!
    I love mince pies, but have never made them myself yet. Now I want to make them too!!

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  4. I've never made Mince pies, but tasted many times at my English friend's house, I like it very much. Yours look perfect Rosa.

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  5. I loved reading the history behind the mincemeat!

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  6. I didn't know about the history of mince pies! Really interesting! Thank you!

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  7. Wow absolutely gorgeous. Wonderful pictures.

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  8. I love these sweet stars!

    have a great time,
    Paula

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  9. Honestly I've never tasted mince pies! Shame on me :(
    Yours looks absolutely tempting!
    Wish I could grab a pie and taste it!!
    Enjoy your weekend!

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  10. Well, you know they say forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest ;o) These look fantastic and you are right - why stop after Christmas??

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  11. My mom always made mincemeat tarts during the holidays. As a child I didn't appreciate them but I will always try them when they available.

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  12. These looks great Rosa! I really want to make mincemeat pies this year! Just need to perfect a gluten-free crust!

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  13. Habe ich noch nie gegessen. Aber der Inhalt (und der Deckel) sehen wundervoll aus.

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  14. Je n'ai jamais mangé de cette gourmandise bien british, mais là je dois dire que je vais être obligée de remédier à la situation parce que je suis fort intéressée. J'ai bien aimé le petit historique de tout ça, fort intéressant. Bonne journée Rosa!

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  15. Trop mignonnes, trop gourmandes aussi...idéales pour un café gourmand !
    Bisous

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  16. S-u-b-e-r-b-e-s! J'adore les 'Mince Pies' :)

    Bises Rosa!
    Et merci d'être passée :)

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  17. De toute beauté ma chère Rosa!!! Je n'ai jamais tenté le mincemeat, peut-être vais-je me lancer un beau jour...

    Bonne journée à toi :)

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  18. Oh my, these are dangerous to have around during the holidays. Eat one, two....

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  19. Superbe comme toujours ma belle Rosa !!

    Bonne soirée XX

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  20. mincemeat pies have been on my list of desserts to make for the holidays. thanks for sharing yours and the history behind them!

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  21. They look so flaky and delicious.

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  22. L'association des photos fait que l'on se sente irrésistiblement attiré par la tarte histoire de se réconforter des frimas extérieurs ! Tentatrice va ^^

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  23. Beautiful!

    Those are something I have meant to make too for a long time, maybe I get inspired to make them soon too.

    Happy New Year!

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  24. ton mincepie je n'en ferais qu'une bouchée !!Rosa je te souhaite une bonne année gourmande 2011!!Pierre

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  25. Mince pies are the only Christmas baking I do. I've never made my own fruit mince though. I buy a commercial one and add a few things to it.

    Yours look wonderful.

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  26. Your mincemeat was put to excellent use! The cut pastry tops are lovely. Interesting that early pies were made to represent Jesus' crib.

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  27. those are lovely pies and photos Rosa!

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  28. These are gorgeous little morsels of mincemeat! A beautiful holiday tradition.

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  29. Wow! These look better than the store bought ones (probably because they are!). They are so sinfully addictive! Love the pics too Rosa!

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  30. WOW These look gorgeous! I have never had a mince pie before :)

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  31. Your pies look gorgeous. I have never tried mincemeat, and until reading your last post about it, I thought that it still contained meat. It sounds really delicious and I would love to try it. Very interesting history about mincemeat. Thanks for sharing it.

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  32. Your mince pies are adorable; I wonder if bakeries that sell them on Christmas days could be fined, since it is illegal. How weird.
    I have never tasted a mince pie. I think I should!

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  33. Looks great and not very difficult to put together! And as usual gorgeous photos!

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  34. Merci Rosa! j'en ai goûté dernièrement lors d'une Christmas party so british..
    J'en rêve
    Bon week-end.

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  35. tasty work, rosa! i think some people misunderstand what actually makes up mincemeat, and that's too bad--it's delicious!

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  36. I love mince pies and I love how you mentioned about the Cromwell's law. I find it very funny!

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  37. They do look sinfully delicious! Loved the background info!

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  38. My aunt makes mincemeat pies sans meat every Thanksgiving. I just love the spices that go into them.

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  39. What a wonderful sounding recipe! looks great!

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  40. What an interesting history! You don't always think of where things come from. Thanks for sharing!

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  41. Rosa , you have to expalin to me how you keep so thein with all your wonderful baking ...
    grrr
    garance

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  42. Stunning photography :)

    You should tell us how you remain so thin after all these delicious cakes

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  43. I've never made mince pies myself as they aren't a traditional Finnish dish to have. These look perfect Rosa!

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  44. These look simply lovely and picture perfect!

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  45. those are adorable little pies! you really do make such beautiful food, rosa :)

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  46. What gorgeous looking pies! And all the photos are just incredible, as always! Happy New Year!

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  47. Che splendide foto e che delizia le tue ricette, un abbraccio ciao

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  48. Rosa,your neat mince pies are glowing in sunlight..wonderful wonderful recipe & photos of the snow.Have a nice weekend!

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  49. Si en plus c'est un plaisir interdit, c'est encore meilleur

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  50. Beautiful Rosa.. I really like Mutton Pies and Minced Pies... I LOVE them... and am always scouring for them... I get lazy and buy them...but these are just dreamy.

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  51. Beautiful mincepies. I still remember the first time I eat them in the UK... many years ago, better not tell, it would give away my age :-)

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  52. J,adore ces tartelettes. J'ai déjà un bocal de mincemeat, il me faut les faire bientôt!

    Miss Diane

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  53. What a wonderful photographs with these delicious pies!
    Mglòria from Gourmenderies

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  54. ahhh you make me want to give mince meat a go again. indeed. so pretty.

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  55. Oh I wish it was Christmas again! I feel I didn't eat anywhere near enough mince pies this festive season and yours look so perfect!

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  56. mmmm love the moistness peaking out ! looks awesome =D

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  57. Rosa, when I was in England my friend bought mincepies from Sainsbury and I remembered eating it cold. But I think I would rather have it hot...why is it eaten cold?

    Yours looked so festive and fun to eat and yes..another f...FORBIDDEN but I'll have a go hehehe..

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  58. They look very lovely...and perfect for the Winter Season :)

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  59. Your mincemeat pies look extraordinary and I love all the history around them that you've shared. They'll just be that much more special the next time I sample one.

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  60. These mince pies look so yummy! Thank you for sharing the history I enjoyed reading it!

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  61. These mince pies are really perfect!! Love the top decoration that reveals the delicious filling.

    And enjoy all the beautiful shots, as usual!

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  62. OUAH C'est magnifiiiique! J'ai bien envie d'en prendre au passage!
    ça me fait penser à de mini apple pie .. Miammmm
    Bise

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  63. Hi Rosa
    Happy 2011.
    I am absolutely crazy for mince pies, my mother-in-law is an absolute expert on this field. I have attempted to bake them for several times but my pastry never comes out right.
    Yours looks very light, I am taking your recipe along to try it next year.
    As always, great work ♥

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  64. love the mini history lesson behind the mince pies!

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  65. Loved your mince pie history, Rosa! And what perfect pies you made too; illegal or not, I'd eat these anytime!
    Happy 2011!

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  66. Such interesting information on mince pies! They look really wonderful, Rosa!

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  67. HA! Rosa, I just jumped in my chair when your new music came on!

    These look completely delightful! What a gorgeous delicate crust!

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  68. Oh la la... Comme elles sont belles tes minis tartes !

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  69. we have something very, very similar though a lot bigger. and, we eat ours year-round. they're sooo delightful. But, can be time consuming if you're making the pastry dough from scratch.

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  70. I can only imagine how AMAZING your house smells while these delightful mince pies bake away. Love the cut outs you made on the top too :) xo

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  71. Your mince meat pies are stunning! I smiled while reading this post as a mince meat pie is one of the traditional American pies that are served up as part of our Thanksgiving table. Typically, older Americans feel a connection to the tradition of this pie. You often explain to young children that there is really no meat in the pie-

    I loved the history lesson that you provided-it all makes sense when I think of our traditions.

    Velva

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  72. Very interesting read Rosa and lovely photos of the snow! :D

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  73. Oh wow! They look decadent. I want one right now :D

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  74. wow, love it, can I have 2 or 3 please?:)

    US Masala

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  75. Thank you for this informative post. I tried Mince pies while in London a couple of months ago and loved them. Yours look delicious too, so I'm bookmarking the recipe for future references :)

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  76. i would love to take a bite of your mince pies. more than a bite. love your winter photos!

    paz xoxo

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  77. Wow! I learned so much from your post. Thank you for researching all of that. It was great to read and the photos were terrific!

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  78. Rosa, they are so beautiful! Your crust does look absolutely perfect, light and sweet and moist and the mincemeat, well, I've never had it but boy do I want to now! I love the stories of forbidden pleasures and gluttony and I love food history like this! Great post, dear! xo

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  79. Beautiful mince pies:) they are my favorite.. i still have some left overs from christmas and have them whenever i need a little pick me up! thank you for sharing your lovely creations. have a nice day.

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  80. Your first? I can't believe it. Beautiful!

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  81. Forbidden always tastes better :-) Beautifully done. The shortcrust pastry looks just perfect.

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  82. What an absolutely fascinating history on the old mince pie, I've never known those little details, although a few months ago I did watch the entire series of The Tudors & can imagine Cromwell would have laid down the law on something like that, it certainly was a time of great hedonistic gluttony or puritanical abstinence - what a shame the yummy little mince pies got caught in the middle.
    Well done with these, they look wonderful.

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  83. It always strikes me as odd that any one person or groups of persons stand on their mighty mountain making rules and regulations for all. I didn't realize any one person held the trophy of perfection.
    Depriving someone of anything will only make them seek it more.
    Hence, your probable adventure into finally wanting to make these pies?!?
    They do look very well made and I'm sure they're tasty as heck. LOL

    The origins of food always fascinated me...thanks Rosa for telling the story so well.

    Ciao,
    Claudia

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  84. What an interesting history behind this sweet treat. Thanks for sharing both, Rosa!

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  85. These are the most perfect minced pies I have seen. Well done, Rosa!

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  86. Your photos are always stunning, Rosa. I know you are probably tired of reading me saying that, but I look forward to seeing what you post each time!
    I never knew mince pies had such history. They look like delectable little bites.

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  87. Un grand classique des fâtes anglaises. J'ai fait le plein de mince meat cette année.

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  88. Completement d'accord avec toi sur la saisonnalite des mince pies, je ne vois pas pourquoi on se priverait de ces petites douceursw le reste de l'annee.
    J'en avais fait une fois, mais jamais essaye le mince-meat moi-meme, les tiens sont magnifiques.

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  89. Oh! je crois que je viens de tomber amoureuse de ta jolie recette!:)
    Merci pour ce beau moment de gourmandise!
    Je te souhaite une année toute douce et sereine!
    Plein de bisous :)

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  90. Rosa, Very interesting post and I will definitely die for those mouth watering minced pies of yours!

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  91. j'adore tes mince pies, ils sont trognons !!!

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  92. these are gorgeous, Rose. And I love all of your photos! I heart Winter!

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  93. I still haven't taken the mincemeat plunge yet, but you are tempting me.... xoxo

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  94. this is truly awesome! I just staring the mince pie

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  95. Sinfully addictive indeed! Just gorgeous Rosa!

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  96. J'adore ! Justement je voulais la recette après en avoir goûté d'extras venant de chez Harrods ;)
    Merci Rosa !

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  97. I love this !
    They're so sweet :)

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  98. Bookmarked Rosa.

    You know how crazy we foodies can be at times. I have been hunting here in B'dos for a mince-pie pan but cannot find one. Silly me, I thought that I could get one in the US (no such luck). Anyway, I have some family friends coming in the the UK in January and will ask them to bring me a couple of pans.

    Given that I am cooking for a small crowd I was thinking that I am going to make one tart pan of the mince pie and cut it into squares. It will save me some time rather than making individual pies. I am definitely going to cut the top crust into star shapes though :)

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  99. On en a mangé pour le gouter le lendemain de Noel: trop trop bon!

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  100. Rosa you can perfectly captured the essence of Winter's beauty in your photography and this post.

    I've never tried mincemeat before, but my mom has mentioned it many times. It was a holiday tradition when she was growing up. I am definitely going to try this because I know my mom would love it. I'll let you know how it turns out :D

    I'll also be pinning ;)

    Toodles,
    Tammy<3
    xo

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