Traditions are so comforting, especially in late December. It’s dark most of the time, it’s probably cold (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere or Phoenix, etc.), and you’ve got presents to wrap and cards to send. Food traditions, in particular, are so cheering at this time of year. And I love how they are so different from country to country, even town to town and family to family. It’s great to be introduced to new ones every so often, and maybe incorporating them into your annual celebration.
This year, being in America and hosting Christmas in our little house for the first time, I wanted to make sure we brought over some of the best-loved British traditions. Luckily, living in New England, there are plenty of resources at our disposal. For example, I had no trouble finding Christmas crackers for our dinner table. But jars of mincemeat are more difficult to come by. No choice but to make our own – luckily it’s easy and uses ingredients you can find anywhere!
Mince pies are a truly beautiful thing at Christmas time. However, they’re not the healthiest treats in the world. Loaded up with sugar and booze, pastry on the bottom and the top, and sprinkled with even more sugar to finish, I thought there must be a way of creating the same flavors but boosting the nutrition a bit. So you can have 3 or 4 without worry! At least that’s how I thought about it
And to serve alongside, some mulled wine or some warming spiced apple cider (the nonalcoholic kind).
Mulled Wine or Spiced Cider Recipe
- peel and juice of 2 clementines or oranges
- peel of 1 lemon
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 thumb-sized piece of root ginger, sliced
- 1 whole vanilla pod, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 star anise
- For Mulled Wine: 2 bottles of fruity red wine and 1/4 cup honey or brown sugar
- For Spiced Cider: 1/2 gallon of apple cider
You have the option of putting all the spices and fruit peels into a spice bag to infuse the wine or cider, or simply strain everything out when you’re ready to serve. Either way, combine everything in a large pan, and gently simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve steaming hot!
In England, mince pies are given to Santa with a little glass of port, rather than milk and cookies. Maybe it’s time we brought that tradition over here!
Almond Flour Mince Pies with Cashew Cream
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Keywords: bake blender simmer dessert gluten-free soy-free vegan vegetarian wheat free Christmas pie winter
Ingredients (12 little pies)
- 1 apple, grated
- zest of 1 orange
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 2 large oranges
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup dried blueberries
- water as needed
- 2 cups almond meal or ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp solid coconut oil
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups cashews
- juice of 1/2 orange
- pinch sea salt
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water
This can be made several days in advance, and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until everything has broken down slightly and any excess liquid has boiled off.
The mixture should stick together quite easily. Continue to simmer on low, adding a little water, if it isn’t quite sticky enough.
Place all ingredients in a food processor with an “S” blade and pulse a few times until everything comes together in a dough.
Divide the dough ball into 12 equal portions.
Lightly grease a cupcake tin with coconut oil.
Press each dough portion between your hands gently to flatten, then press into each cupcake tin cup. This dough is delicate and breaks easily, so can’t be rolled out or made too thin. Just use your fingers to mold the dough to the cupcake tin’s shape.
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Using a teaspoon, put a dollop of the mincemeat filling inside each little crust. You want just enough in each one to reach just below the top of the pie crusts.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking often and rotating regularly. This crust will burn easily, so keep your eyes on it!
Place all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or deep jug to be blitzed with an immersion or handheld blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add more water if necessary. Store in the fridge until ready to serve – each mince pie will get a dollop of cashew cream on top, but this recipe leaves you with plenty of leftovers for other creations!