Thursday, 18 December 2014

Vegan chocolate mince pies and other Christmas foods

Can it really be only a week until Christmas day!  Inconceivable!  I feel I have done enough festive baking for the season already.  For a start, I've already made three batches of mince pies. But if there is another week, I reckon I might squeeze in another batch before the big day.  I have been enjoying experimenting with baking mince tarts and other Christmas foods.

I am not fond of making pastry.  It is fiddly and either too thick or too thin, too crusty or too soft.  And I really hate pastry recipes that call for an egg yolk.  I don't know what to do with an egg white.  It is not as though I make pavlova or meringues.

Last year I made chocolate pastry for mince tarts that had an egg yolk.  So this year, I decided to look for a vegan recipe to avoid the egg conundrum.  Having made this pastry three times I am quite happy with it.  The first time I baked it a bit long and it was too crisp.  Making three batches of mince pies has helped me hone the recipe so that I am really happy with it.

Above is the first batch of mince tarts I made in a patty pan tin.  Since then I have been making them in my mini muffin tins.  They are slightly smaller (a smaller star).  I have also experimented with some sparkly gold sugar dust.  I found that a liberal sprinkling over the star works really well and helps to make the star easier to see on the dark pastry.  (I tried sprinkling the sugar on after baking and it didn't stick but it seems to caramelise onto the pastry if sprinkled before baking.)

The reason that I have made three batches of mince tarts is that they are great for entertaining and picnics.  I made a batch for a carols service a couple of weeks ago.  Then I made a batch earlier this week to take to a Christmas party.  And yesterday I made some when Sylvia's school friend and family came for dinner.

I also took some cheese biscuits along to the Christmas party.  They are from Nigella's How to Eat (a bit like these.)  I made them to make sure Sylvia had something to eat other than crackers and sweet food.  She did rather enjoy them.  Though my favourite comment about the chocolate mince pies was when she took a bite of one and a friend laughed and said Sylvia had closed her eyes because they were so good.  Everyone enjoyed the mince pies at the party.

When Sylvia's schoolfriend came over, I decided to try a candy cane pizza.  I rolled the sourdough pizza dough into a long sausage, then flattened and shaped it on silicone sheets.  I spread them with tomato sauce and then place strips of cheese long them.  They looked really good when they went into the oven.  I baked them at 200 C for about 20 minutes.

When they came out of the oven, they were less impressive.  I must try them again.  (And there is still time before Christmas).  Next time I think I would either just spread cheese on the pizza and then arrange stripes of red capsicum or alternate stripes of tomato sauce and cheese.

As our guests were ready to go yesterday I remembered I had dessert.  Oops!  They stayed a little longer to sample the mince pies and some White Christmas.  I had made the White Christmas for a school end of year party yesterday and had brought home some leftovers.  Quite a few actually.  I wonder if today's children don't know about White Christmas.  I also think I might try it with half the coconut as I noticed some other online recipes do.

I made French Lavender Salt to give to Sylvia's teachers.  I didn't like the colour of the lids on the jars so Sylvia and I painted them.  I felt that I did a good job with the gift wrapping.  If you are like me and don't have great wrapping skills, you could check out 21 Festive Gift Wrapping Ideas by Jac (of Tinned Tomatoes) or these cute sparkly gift tags by Claire K Creations.

On the weekend, we had planned to go to another carols service but we were too tired.  However I still made pate and rice krispie slice.  I planned to make pale blue slice and cut it as snowflakes.  Something went wrong with some of the food dye and it turned out green. 

We used an Ikea set of cutters to make a 3D Christmas tree.  The first one I did was too warm and melted (like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz) while we put little icing star decorations on it.   I put the slice in the freezer before my second attempt at the tree and just drizzled it with white chocolate and sprinkled some gold sugar sparkles.  It lasted long enough for a photo!


Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Cranachan-style breakfast parfait, park, stars and carols
Two years ago: NCR Snow Snow Snow and Edinburgh Botanics
Three years ago: Gifts in a Jar, Christmas quicklinks and Melbourne Christmas
Four years ago: Edible Gift Ideas for Christmas
Five years ago: Christmas Nut Roast in Scotland
Six years ago: Tree, Tarts and Punch
Seven years ago: Christmas Snowflake Biscuits

Chocolate mince pies
Adapted from Cake Crumbs
Makes about 24 small mince tarts

1 1/4 cups plain (all purpose) white flour
1/3 cup icing (confectioners) sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
125g margarine or butter, chilled and chopped
1-3 tbsp cold water

1 cup fruit mince (approximately)
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or choc chips
glittery sugar (optional)

Mix dry ingredients in food processor.  Add in margarine and process until mixed in.  Add 1 tbsp of water and process again.  Pinch mixture between your fingers and if it sticks it is done.  If it is still a bit crumbly add another tablespoon of water.  (I found it did not go into a ball in the food processor and it needed only 1 tbsp water.)  Tip mixture out of food processor (you wont need a floured surface).  Press together into a smooth ball with your hands.  Wrap in clingwrap and refridgerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190 C.  Lightly grease 2 x 12 hole mini muffin tins.  Mix together fruit mince and chocolate.

Roll out pastry on baking paper until it is about 3mm thick.  (I would start with two thirds of the pastry and wrap the remainder and return to the fridge.)  Cut circles slightly bigger than your mini muffin holes.  (I use a scone cutter but even a glass would do.)  Carefully place circle on mini muffin hole and use your fingers to gently push it in and against the edges to form a little cup.  Drop spoonfuls of fruit mince mixture into each cup to fill it to the top.  Cut out little stars (or circles if you prefer) and place on top of the fruit mince.  Sprinkle with glittery sugar.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.  (15 minutes for me.)  When they are baked, leave in the tin for about 5 minutes and then carefully pop out onto wire rack.  Cool and then store in an airtight container.

On the stereo:
Winter Songs: The Albion Christmas Band

26 comments:

  1. Hi Johanna,

    Greetings from Melbourne too... I came here to say hi via Louise's blog.

    You got a great vegetarian baking blog and I like all your Christmas cookies baking. I'm a great fan of baking too and hope to be friends via baking and blogging. Hope to be in touch.

    Btw, I'm organizing a few giveaway for Australian residents at http://www.bakeforhappykids.com/2014/12/a-diy-cake-kit-from-mummas-cakes-and.html Hope that you can be one of the lucky winners :D

    Cheers!

    Zoe

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    1. Thanks Zoe - sounds like an interesting giveaway - would love to be a winner!

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  2. I've seen a few chocolate pastry mince pies this year, I love the idea. I expect it helps tone down the sweetness a bit, as they can be a bit too sweet at times. Love the candy cane pzzas, maybe a thin layer f sliced beetroot underneath to help keep the colour?
    Have a happy festive Christmas!

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    1. Thanks Katie - I mustn't be around the blogosphere enough as I haven't seen any other chocolate mince pie recipes - the chocolate does make them seem less sweet. Beetroot on the candy cane pizzas is a great idea.

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  3. Johanna, you put me to shame! My Christmas baking is seriously lacking, although I hope to make up for that a bit today. These chocolate mince pies sound so much nicer than the traditional sort (to my non-mince pie taste buds). They look gorgeous and I love the other things you've been making too.

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    1. Thanks Kari - I think I have a little more opportunity than you for Christmas baking this year. I really love the chocolate mince pies though I know they are not for everyone!

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  4. Gosh you've been busy! I made Chocolate Mince Pies one year but felt positively sick after they were so sweet (I suspect being pregnant had something to do with my low tolerance, everyone else thought they were lush albeit a bit ''strange'' to get your tastebuds round)

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    1. Thanks Nic - I was right off chocolate when I was pregnant (not to mention how confused my taste buds were) so I think it is time you tried chocolate mince pies again - esp if everyone else loved them

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  5. A friend of mine suggested chocolate fruit cake and I was intrigued, and chocolate mince pies are similarly calling to me. Yum!

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    1. Thanks Joey - I've tried fruit cake with chocolate a couple of times - I really liked this one with chocolate chunks - http://gggiraffe.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/wsc-fruitcake-with-chocolate-ii-and-our.html - but I also made one with chocolate in the mixture which helped make it decadently rich. Mince pies seems easier though

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  6. I'm impressed with all your baking. I like to make fruit mince pies but like you, I find making the pastry such a chore. Your candy cane pizzas are gorgeous and what a thrill they must have been for Sylvia and her friend xx

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    1. Thanks Charlie - Sylvia and her friend loved the pizza and I have been pleased to see how much Sylvia loves the mince pies

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  7. Love all of your mince tarts and the candy cane pizza. I could have given you some yolks - I have 5 in the fridge at present left over from Xmas baking.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - wow 5 yolks - that sounds quite scary to me - I wouldn't know what to do with them - but am sure you will have some lovely recipe to make with them :-)

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  8. Mince Pies are not one of my favorites either, Johanna. I stink when it comes to pastry. (eel, actuall all things baking:)

    i LOVE the notion of that Pizza "candy cane" what a GREAT idea. I bet it was quite a hit!

    I have so much to do before next week. I better get a move on. Thank you so much for sharing, Johanna...

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    1. Thanks Louise - I am much better at eating mince pies than making them but this pastry seems to work well for me and I have now made another batch of the pies meaning I am now on track to use all my mince before christmas (oops forgot about the paneforte!) Good luck with your preparations,

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  9. Wow you've really been busy! My really big prep doesn't happen until a couple of days before. You are making me feel lazy in comparison! :o

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - yes we have been busy but I think the post makes me look like I have made more than I feel I have! Which I guess means it doesn't feel onerous - probably because most of the recipes are tried and true!

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  10. I've never made vegan pastry, but it looks like it works really well and no doubt tastes fantastic. You've certainly made a load of mince pies this year..... I think chocolate pastry ones would be my favourite! I can see why Sylvia loved them so much.... The pizza's are great fun too..... I love making shaped pizza.... it makes it that much more special (and tasty). Have a fantastic Christmas and enjoy your lovely weather!

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    1. Thanks Kate - making both vegan and gluten free is often challenging but quite possible. I need to experiment more with shaped pizzas - they are fun.

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  11. Wow Johanna you make the most amazing food! Those mince pies look divine. Id love to have a go at these! I love the Rice Krispie tree and the candy came pizzas too

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  12. Your mince pies are gorgeous. I'm a terrible baker - despite the fact that you think it's tricky - it all seems to turn out well for you =)
    I love love love the gift you made for the teachers! They are beautiful and such a great idea for a gift. Homemade gifts are the best.
    The candy cane pizza is pretty rockin' too.

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    1. Thanks Kimmy - I really liked this pastry - I think it is one of my favourites - I have made 5 batches of it and none seemed a hassle. Previously I have made one batch and don't want to make the pastry again. And I agree that homemade gifts are best. I was glad to do a few things year but still have a long way to go in the home made department!

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  13. WOW! All of these are just FAB but I am very taken with the mince pies! Happy New Year Johanna, Karen

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  14. Ooh your chocolate mince pies look so cute Johanna, I bet they went down a storm. Making them vegan is a good idea as it means you are being much more inclusive. I'm so wedded to my butter, I never think of making vegan pastry. I tend to make my pastry with yogurt these days rather than egg as it seems to work really well. But if ever I have egg whites left over, I usually end up making a small batch of friends - yum.

    Hope you had a lovely Christmas, you've certainly been busy on the baking front.

    I thought your rice krispie slice might have been made with matcha - it's certainly given me the idea :)

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  15. Nice idea to add chocolate to the pastry Johanna, they look great especially with that golden sprinkle on top. Love the candy cane pizzas too.

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