Of the Christmas desserts that appear on the traditional Irish table, mince pies take the top prize in my book. The first time I made this recipe, I followed my grandfather’s handwritten note that said to use an eighth of a glass of brandy, but I didn’t know how big a glass was, so I used the biggest glass I could find, which made for some pretty potent pies.
The pies are best served warm out of the oven with some whipped cream, but they are quite good at room temperature, too. You can assemble the pies several hours ahead and bake them just before dinner, or they can be baked up to 2 days before serving. Homemade Mincemeat takes 6 weeks to mature, so plan accordingly.
Cut the pastry: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick, forming a large circle. Using a 41/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 6 circles of dough for the bottom crusts. Then using a 4-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 6 more circles for the top crusts. One pressing of the dough should more than amply yield 12 cuts.
Make the pies: Line six 4-inch fluted removable bottom tart pans with a bottom crust, pressing it into the bottom and sides. (The pastry should fit perfectly.) Fill each pan with 1/3 cup of mincemeat. Using the tip of your finger, moisten the pastry all around the edge with water. Then cover each tart with a top crust. Press the edge of the top crust into the moistened edge of the bottom crust to seal the pies. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut two 1/2-inch slits near the center of each tart to allow steam to be released. Place the tarts on a baking sheet and refrigerate them for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. THE PIES MUST BE ICE COLD WHEN THEY ARE PUT IN THE OVEN.
Bake the pies: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the pies on one rack in the oven and bake for
20 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
Make the whipped cream: Place the cream in a chilled medium mixing bowl. Using a hand-held mixer, beat the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Release the pies from their pans and serve warm with the cream
Reprinted with permission from My Irish Table by Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedorn, copyright (c) 2014.Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Photography (c) 2014 by Scott Suchman
Front cover photograph (c) 2014 by Sang An