Christmas Mince Pies (Vegan)

“Every year I make Christmas mince pies.  Mum’s been doing making them for years but I’m sure mine are better!  She will disagree with this.  Anyway, this version is very tasty and vegan friendly.  Of course, you can make them with a traditional shortcrust pastry but I love the texture of this pastry and it’s really easy to make and work with. This recipe makes enough pastry for about 3 dozen mince pies, so halve it if you don’t need that many. I make the Christmas mince in bulk every year and use it to make Christmas cakes, biscuits and other delicacies. I haven’t given weights for the dried fruit because with this method you can make as much or as little as you like and use a combination of fruits that you like best.  I would also suggest you use less expensive cooking port or it can get expensive. Enjoy!”

(Photos by Gary Corbett)

Ingredients for Christmas mince

  • Sultanas
  • Currents
  • Dates
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried figs
  • Cranberries
  • Cooking port
Method for Christmas mince
  1. Cut up the dried fruit into small pieces or use a food processor.
  2. Place fruit in a large saucepan pour over enough port to saturate the fruit.
  3. Bring the heat up to medium and keep stirring until the port has been incorporated and the fruit has softened. There should be no liquid left in the mixture and the fruit should be glossy and sticky.   (When doing 2kg of dried fruit this takes up to 20 minutes) You can always add more port and keep the mixture on the heat if you want cook it for longer.
  4. Let the Christmas mince cool completely in the saucepan then transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate.  Because of the high amount of natural sugars the Christmas mince will last for ages!
Ingredients for Vegan shortcrust pastry
  • 190g Nutilex (or non-dairy margarine)
  • 190g icing sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
Method for Vegan shortcrust pastry
  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and combine until it comes into a ball.  If you mixture is crumbly add a small amount of cold water. If it’s to soft put some more flour in.
  2. Empty mixture onto some plastic wrap and knead into a disc. (This will make it easier to roll out later)
  3. Wrap disc in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed.
Method for Christmas mince pies
  1. Roll out the pastry until it’s about 5mm thick.
  2. Cut out circles of pastry to fit your pans.  (I have specialty pans that are shallow with a fluted edge that are perfect for these pies)
  3. Press the pastry into the base of each mould so it comes a few centimetres up the side. (Or as deep as you want if you want bigger pies!)
  4. Fill the moulds with the cooled Christmas mince and smooth the top.
  5. Using Christmas cutters make tops for the pies.  I use stars, Santas, Christmas trees or baubles for mine.  You can also enclose the top completely if you like.
  6. Before you put them in the oven you can use an egg-wash, milk or any vegan milks to paint over the pastry tops.  Or you can sprinkle a bit of sugar over them.
  7. Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and starting to brown.
  8. Give to all your family and friends and everyone will love you!

 

Fudging it!

“I love it when you find a recipe that is simple and easy to adjust to your taste.  A recipe where you can let your creativity go wild and make beautiful creations to tempt the taste buds with the minimum of fuss and effort.  Making fudge fits into all these categories.  The basic recipe is a can of condensed milk and chocolate.  After that it’s up to you.  This Christmas I’ve been making fudge for presents and for sale at some local cafes so I’ve tried to get a varied selection that should satisfy everyone’s palette. A few pointers before we start: don’t walk away when you’re heating the condensed milk.  It can go from hot to burnt in a second!  To make it easier to stir the chocolate in you can cut it into smaller pieces or stir it in two batches.  And finally, try not to eat it before it makes it into the fridge!  It’s very addictive and impossible to stop at one piece.  Enjoy!”

Salted Dark Chocolate with Rum and Raisin

“A very adult fudge!  The longer you let the raisins soak in the rum the better the result.  It’s worth using really high quality chocolate and getting a good flaked sea salt to sprinkle on the top.”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g dark chocolate (2 x 375g bags)
  • Flake salt

Method

  1. Place raisins and rum in a sealed container and let them soak for a couple of hours or overnight.
  2. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  3. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  4. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  5. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the raisin and rum mixture, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  6. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  7. Sprinkle a small amount of flake salt over the fudge.
  8. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  9. Remove from the fridge and cut into 1.5cm squares.  Keep refrigerated.

White Christmas Fudge

“What’s Christmas without some white Christmas in the fridge?  Here’s a fudge version full of dried fruit and nuts.  It makes a great standby present when going to Christmas parties.”

Ingredients

  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g white chocolate (2 x 375g bags)
  • 150g dried cranberries
  • 80g pistachios
  • 150g dried apricots, diced into small pieces
  • 1 cup rice bubbles
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Method

  1. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  2. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  3. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  4. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the cranberries, pistachios and apricots, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  5. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  6. Cover the top with coconut and press into the fudge.
  7. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  8. Remove from the fridge and cut into diamond shapes.  Keep refrigerated.

Fudgy Rocky Road

“Rocky road is a favourite with several members of my family, so the fudge version should go down a treat!  I used mini-marshmallows in this recipe but you could use regular sized ones if you prefer.”

Ingredients

  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g milk chocolate (2 x 375g bags)
  • 100g mini-marshmallows
  • 200g glace cherries
  • 200g roasted peanuts

Method

  1. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  2. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  3. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  4. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the cherries and peanuts, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  5. When the mixture has cooled slightly add the marshmallows. (If you add them while the mixture is hot they melt!)
  6. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners.  Press your fingertips into the top of the fudge for an uneven finish.
  7. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  8. Remove from the fridge and cut into bars.  Keep refrigerated.

Peanut Butter and Roast Almond Fudge

“This would have to be my all-time-favourite fudge!  The combination of sweet fudge, salty peanut butter and roast almonds is a winner.  I’ve had to limit myself to one piece a day.  Damn you self control!”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g white chocolate (2 x 375g bags)
  • 2 tbsn vanilla extract
  • 300g crunchy peanut butter

Method

  1. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees c for 10 minutes or until the nuts start to turn an amber colour.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  4. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  5. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  6. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the peanut butter, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  7. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  8. Cover the top with the roasted almonds and press into the fudge.
  9. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  10. Remove from the fridge and cut into 1.5cm squares.  Keep refrigerated.

Caramel and Macadamia Fudge

“This fudge recipe is slightly more complicated than the rest but worth the effort.  You need to heat the butter and sugar mixture to a high temperature to get the caramel flavour so a small amount of vigilance is in order.”

Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 375g white chocolate (1 x 375g bag)
  • 200g macadamias cut into quarters

Method

  1. Place the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup and heat in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until the butter and sugar have melted.
  2. Stir in the condensed milk and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce the heat slightly and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture has changed to a darker colour.  This should take about 10 minutes.
  4. Finely dice the chocolate and stir into mixture until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted.
  5. Fold in the macadamia nuts.
  6. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  7. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  8. Remove from the fridge and cut into 1.5cm squares.  Keep refrigerated.

Honeycomb Fudge

“If you’re not feeling adventurous you can buy honeycomb at the shop for this recipe, but making it is so much fun!  I decided this fudge needed to be cut into smaller pieces than the others because it’s so rich and the honeycomb is very sticky.  Of course that means you’ll have to have 2 pieces.”

Ingredients

  • 160g honey
  • 50g water
  • 200g white sugar
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate
  • 395g can of condensed milk
  • 750g milk chocolate (2 x 375g bags)

Method

  1. Line a cake tin or roasting dish with baking paper.
  2. To make the honeycomb put the honey, water and sugar in a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil stirring to combine.
  3. Once at the boil insert a sugar thermometer into the liquid.  Let the mixture increase in temperature until it gets to 150 degrees c.
  4. When the temperature is reached add the bicarbonate and whisk quickly into the mixture.  It will immediately bubble up.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin and let cool completely at room temperature.
  6. Once cool break 2/3 of the honeycomb into chunks and the remainder into small shards.
  7. Heat the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir with a spatula until it comes to just under the boil.
  8. Add half the chocolate and stir until both are combined and chocolate has completely melted into the mixture.
  9. Add the other half of the chocolate and continue stirring.  The mixture will be getting quite thick by this stage.
  10. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the chunks of honeycomb, beating on a slow speed until combined.
  11. Grease and line a slice tin and pour the fudge mixture into it, pushing down to flatten into the corners and smooth the top.
  12. Cover the top with the honeycomb shards and press into the fudge.
  13. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until set. (Approximately 3 hours)
  14. Remove from the fridge and cut into 1cm squares.  Keep refrigerated.