ITALIAN STYLE MINCE PIES WITH RICCIARELLI TOPPING
Mince pies are a staple at Christmas, accompany with them with a Ricciarelli, a traditional Italian almond biscuit, for a luxurious twist.
2 egg whites
A squeeze of lemon juice
200g icing sugar plus a little for dusting
200g ground almonds
1 pinch of salt
Zest from half an orange
1 tbsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g shortcrust pastry
250g mincemeat approx.
- First make the Ricciarelli topping. Whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice until fluffy, Then add the icing sugar and fold in the ground almonds, salt, orange zest, almond extract and vanilla extract. Set aside for a while to dry out a little at room temperature.
- Next, roll out the pastry and cut circles a little bigger than the tart tin holes and line each one. Don’t worry about trimming any pastry that sits above the tin, this is best done once chilled. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes. The pastry cases can be made well ahead like this, frozen until needed and filled and baked from frozen.
- To assemble, take the chilled tart tin, trim off any excess pastry level with the surface of the tin for a neat finish and put a teaspoon of mincemeat in each tart hole.
- Next, take a dessertspoonful (teaspoon for mini ones) of the Ricciarelli dough, roll into a ball, roll in icing sugar then flatten a little. They should be just smaller than the tart tin holes. Place one of each of these Ricciarelli toppings on to each mince pie and press lightly into place. Roll remaining topping mixture into balls, roll in icing sugar and set aside on a tray at room temperature.
- Bake the mince pies in the AGA baking oven for 20 minutes for full sized mince pies and 15 mins for mini mince pies. To bake in an AGA roasting oven, put the tin on the grid shelf on the floor with the cold plain shelf above for 12 – 15 minutes for full sized and 8 – 10 for mini or until the pastry is cooked and the topping is set and nicely browned. Keep an eye on the mince pies while they cook. If they are browning quickly, move them further down in the oven or insert the cold plain shelf above.
- Once baked, cool a for a few minutes in the tin then remove and cool completely.
- Make some separate Ricciarelli with the remaining balls. Simply press them lightly to crack the icing sugar outside and shape the ends a little to make small ovals. Bake in the same way as the mince pies. They will be slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the centre. Cool and store in an airtight container and offer one to anyone who doesn’t fancy a traditional mince pie!