I don’t have many Christmas recipes on the blog (Iced Christmas Pudding my one exception so far), but my plan to add more begins with these Meringue-Topped Mince Pies. A simple pastry case, filled with mincemeat (homemade if you can, but I won’t judge if yours comes from a jar) and topped with a crisp, sweet meringue.
It’s a little more work than a regular pastry-topped mince pie, but there’s something about the meringue topping – especially if you can make little snowy peaks in your meringue – that looks wintery and festive.
You can either make the pastry by hand or using a food processor. I’ve given directions for the food processor method below. If you want to make yours by hand, then rub the butter into the flour, almonds and salt. Then add the lemon zest and sugar. Finally mix in the egg yolk (and milk, if needed) until the pastry comes together. Then chill and proceed from there.
When you’re making the meringue, just be careful not to get any egg yolk mixed with the whites, or else it won’t whisk for you. You want to whisk the whites until you get soft peaks, then add the sugar really, really gradually. If you add too much sugar, the mixture will collapse and go runny. So add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and whisk well between each addition. It might seem slow, but trust me, it’s worth it. The end result should be a thick, glossy meringue that holds a stiff peak when you lift up the whisk.
You can pipe the meringue onto the mince pies, but I find that it’s easier to spoon it on. And then in a nod to my traditional Christmas Cake royal icing decoration, I use a butter knife to make little peaks in the meringue so it sort of resembles a snow scene.
As I said above, you can use shop-bought mincemeat to make these (and I won’t judge you for that!). But mincemeat is harder to get here in the US. So since living here, I’ve always made my own. My version (recipe here) doesn’t need suet and is a simple mix of apples, dried fruits and almonds. And whiskey. Although the whiskey is optional. You could also use brandy if you prefer.
And don’t forget to reduce the oven temperature before you put the meringue in to bake. You want a lower temperature for the meringue topping than for the mincemeat-filled pastry.
Meringue-Topped Mince Pies
For the pastry
- 5 oz or 140g plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 1 oz or 30g ground almonds (almond flour)
- pinch of salt
- 3 oz or 85g cold butter
- 2 oz or 55g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 egg yolk
- zest of half a lemon
- splash of milk (may not be needed)
For the meringue
- 2 egg whites
- 4 oz or 110g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
Mincemeat (either from a jar or homemade)
To make the pastry
- Place the flour, almonds and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar, lemon zest and egg yolk and mix to form a dough. Add a splash of milk if you think it looks a little dry.
- Bring the dough together, flatten into a disk, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 0.5cm thickness and cut into 12 rounds to line a small bun or tartlet tin. Carefully line the tins with the pastry rounds.
- Fill with mincemeat and bake at 375F/190C for 12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 300F/150C.
- Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then keep whisking while gradually adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy.
- Place spoonfuls of the meringue on top of the mincemeat filling, spreading to the edges and then use a butter knife to make small peaks on the top of the pies.
- Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes at the lower temperature.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tin until cool.