Homemade Mincemeat (makes about 6lb)
I don’t dare give you this recipe any earlier than December in case it results in Christmas fatigue in October, but you can make this a few months in advance as it will keep for up to 12 months, stored in a cool dark cupboard. And not my own recipe but borrowed from Delia by way of Gary Rhodes, and it does make for yummy mince pies, with a real kick from the brandy.
450g (1lb) Bramley apples, cored and chopped small (no need to peel)
225g (8oz) shredded suet (vegetarians can use vegetarian suet)
350g (12oz) raisins
225g (8oz) sultanas
225g (8oz) currants
225g (8oz) whole mixed candied peel, finely chopped
350g (12oz) soft dark brown sugar
Juice and grated zest of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
50g (2oz) whole almonds cut into slivers
4 teaspoons mixed ground spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons brandy
Combine the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly together, then cover with a clean cloth and leave in a cool place overnight for 12 hours so the flavours have a chance to develop. After that pre-heat the oven to 120°C cover the bowl loosely with foil and place in the oven for 3 hours.
When you take it out it won’t look great but that is normal, as it cools stir from time to time. When cold, stir in the brandy. Pack in clean, dry jars, cover with wax discs and seal.
Apparently if you eat 12 pies between Christmas Day and Twelfth Night, you ensure twelve months of good fortune…
And if the above is too much effort for this year then the below is a useful quick fix, as can be made in advance and the Christmas pudding haters might enjoy, as well as children, as it is sweet but not too rich
Pots au Chocolat
Makes 4 to 6 depending on size of glass or ramekin you use
4 oz plain dark chocolate
1 oz butter
2 eggs (separated)
4 oz marshmallows
1 tablespoon hot water
Break chocolate in small pieces and melt in bowl over hot water
Add butter, egg yolks and marshmallows, and melt together until mixture is smooth and shiny. Add the tablespoon of hot water and allow to cool. Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the chocolate mixture. Pour into indidual dishes and allow to set in the fridge.
Serve with whipped cream, or raspberries or shortbread bisucuits. A bit sweet perhaps for most adults but children should love it.