Much like the Candied Peel I made a couple of weeks ago, the benefit of making this Christmas essential at home is that you can make as much as you like and control exactly what you put into it! More booze? Why yes! No suet? If you say so! This year I've made a big batch to keep for myself (which will be turned into delicious mince pies a little closer to the day) and some dainty little jars to go into the hampers - perfect for when a group of Christmas well-wishes call in unexpectedly.
You need to make this mincemeat a few weeks in advance to allow the flavours to mature and mellow - go on, get on it this weekend! It's well worth the effort - who wouldn't be cheered by finding a jar of spicy, fruity, sweet deliciousness in their stocking on Christmas day?
230g Fat - If I was making this all for myself I would firstly be completely out of control greedy and secondly, use beef suet. For this batch however I decided to listen to the needs of my friends (and my arteries) and used coconut butter instead. You could also use vegetable suet which is probably the easiest to get hold of out of the three.
450g Cooking apples (I used big Bramleys)
300g Candied peel (I used my home made orange, lemon, lime and pink grapefruit peel)
150g Slivered almonds
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
340g Dark brown sugar
2 heaped teaspoons mixed ground spice
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
7 tbl spoons brandy
Mix all the ingredients in a heat proof bowl and stir well. Cover and leave overnight to allow the delicious flavours to combine. The following day stir the ingredients well and cover with foil. Place in a very cool oven (around 100c or less) for three hours. Remove from the oven and leave to cool - stirring occasionally until all the ingredients are coated in the melted fat. Pack into cold sterilised jars, making sure there are no air bubbles. Cover with waxed disks and seal with lids.
I like to top my mince pies with a little star of pastry rather than a full on lid (less pastry, more filling and it looks pretty) so I decided to attach a small star shaped pastry cutter to the trimming on my finished jars. Don't they look sweet! Now I'll put these beauties away in the cupboard to sleep for the next few weeks - maybe we'll have a mince pie masterclass in a few weeks time!
P.S I printed my labels using this great, free PDF.