Mince Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry

I do believe, there is nothing more wonderful at Christmas than hurrying home to the family, into a kitchen hopefully bestrewed with fairy lights and glittery decorations galore and being offered a freshly baked and still warm mince pie. A blob of brandy butter if I’m not the designated driver for me please! Each year, magazines do round ups of which shop is selling the best mince pie but honestly, once you crack your own, you will never be able to have the boxed versions without feeling disappointed. I’ve tried many a version over the years, looking for my idea of the perfect pie and now I think – enough tinkering! It’s time to share my Mince Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry

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Rather than being a bit cynical about people trying to reinvent the wheel, I think of the 1.5 million hits you get from Googling “mince pie recipe” as a sign of enthusiasm for this traditional festive treat and rejoice in there being a perfect recipe out there for us all. My idea of perfection starts with the ratio of filling to pastry – I like the mincemeat to be a flavouring for the pastry, rather than the pastry being a carry case for a ton of spiced and boozy fruits. This year, I treated myself to some 

round bottomed mince pie tins which are super cheap (so definitely buy two!), give the cute and delicate rounded shape to my pies plus are small enough to fit two trays into a domestic oven side by side so you can make all 24 in one go. 

The pastry I use is something which is much more popular over in America from the food blogs and cook books I’ve read but really, us Brits need to start making much more of it! It’s a sweet shortcrust pastry with some full fat cream cheese worked right in. If you have struggled with getting your shortcrust tender and flaky enough, then this is pastry for you. Yes it’s rich but it’s Christmas! Eat your pie, enjoy yourself! Honestly, I’ve turned so many “mince pie haters” with my pies and I think the pastry is what clinches the deal. Just make sure you do not over bake it – these pies are meant to be pale – an overcooked mince pie is so disappointing. No less because it makes them harder to reheat if they aren’t all eaten soon after baking.  

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As for the mincemeat, again, it’s taken years to settle on the perfect recipe and I really believe that Hettie’s Suet Free Mincemeat from Nigella’s

How to be a Domestic Goddess is spot on. My friend Nicola encouraged me to try it years ago and I’ve never looked back since. It’s rich and boozy but has a wonderfully soft texture – that being one of the failings of the store bought versions, jaggedly sharp and dried up fruit. This is all luxury and it tastes superb. I have made minor adjustments over the years to the recipe, but they are genuinely really small tweaks as it’s so good as it stands. I do grind my own Mixed Spice but lately, I’ve been using my own home ground Pumpkin Pie Spice in it’s place for my Christmas Cake and Christmas Puddings and I love it. Adding a little extra booze is no bad idea if you plan on making a big batch of mincemeat and storing some, even for next year as it mellows a lot as it matures. To finish my mince pies, I like to brush half with milk and sprinkle with a generous amount of caster sugar before baking and the other half, I sprinkle with a heavy but freshly fallen cloud of icing sugar just as they are served. How would you have yours?   

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Mince Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry
Tender melt in the mouth pastry cases thanks to the cream cheese, filled generously with homemade mincemeat.
Servings: 24
Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
For the pastry
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 100 g full fat cream cheese
  • 1 large egg
To fill
  • 1 small jar of mincemeat
To finish
  • Milk to brush
  • Caster or icing sugar to sprinkle
Equipment
  • A 12-hole tart tin/bun tray with round bottoms*
  • A small star shaped cookie cutter or plunger cutter optional
Instructions
  1. I make my pastry in the food mixer by pulsing together the flour, baking powder, sugar, butter and cream cheese until it forms a crumbly texture then I add in the egg and pulse again until it comes together in a ball. Scoop onto some clingfilm and chill for a minimum of an hour before using.
  2. If making by hand, rub the butter into the flour then stir in the baking powder and sugar. Use a dinner knife to cut in the cream cheese and then bring together using the egg. Whichever way you go, don't over handle the pastry and stop just before it comes together.
  3. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  4. Work with half the pastry at a time, keeping one half in the fridge. Roll out to approximately 2-3mm thick and stamp out circles of pastry big enough to line your tart tin* and press into the tin. Add a spoonful of mincemeat (don't over fill) then stamp out circles of pastry just big enough to cover each tart and cut out a star with your small cutter before placing on top of the tart and pressing lightly to seal. Brush with milk and sprinkle generously with extra caster sugar.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is dry to the touch but at most, pale golden brown - these little pies aren't meant to be very brown when baked.
  6. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes to allow them to firm up and then pop each one out onto a rack to finish cooling. If you have only one tin, make the second batch in the same way.
  7. If you prefer, you don't need to sprinkle with caster sugar before baking and instead, can dust liberally with icing sugar to serve.
Recipe Notes
*= I use an old fashioned tart tin which gives small round bottomed tarts. A fairy cake tin is a very similar size but if you use a muffin tin, they will be almost twice as big and will require up to an extra 10 minutes cooking time plus you should expect to only get 12 out of the stated quantities.

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30 Comments

  1. irvine.maureen 19/11/2016 at 12:01 - Reply

    Gosh Jo, I am intrigued by the cream cheese in your pastry recipe and I am just wondering if it can be frozen.

    • Just Jo 19/11/2016 at 12:59 - Reply

      It certainly can be Maureen, no reason why not. It would be best to roll out and fill and top the pies with the uncooked pastry then freeze in the tin rather than freeze unrolled, if you know what I mean. You can cook this pies from frozen that way just add a few more minutes to the cooking time. Handy if you only want a few to be frozen actually!

      • irvine.maureen 19/11/2016 at 14:49 - Reply

        Thankyou Jo, I knew I could rely on you! The more I can prepare ahead the happier I am.

        • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 08:19 - Reply

          You’re very welcome Maureen – me too, I have a fair bit of food in the freezer and store cupboards already for Christmas Day!

  2. Mary Jones 20/11/2016 at 18:06 - Reply

    I’m not sure what has happened to this site over the past month…? I used to enjoy so much all the recipes and the chatty information from the girl Who’s site I thought it was, but now I seem to be having a lot of info and ads from Amazon, etc, and the recipes are reduced in layout to one very small column.
    I do not want to “unsubscribe”, particularly as my grandchildren really loved the Halloween Bonfire cup cakes! So I do hope this is just a passing ‘glitch’..?

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 08:18 - Reply

      HI there Mary – firstly, thanks so much for your kind words, I’m always delighted to hear people enjoy the blog and it’s lovely to hear your grandchildren loved those wee little bonfires!
      But as for the Amazon issues. I *think* you must be referring to how the emails display with regard to the extra Amazon info at the start and how thin the post displays within the email reader. This is a technical glitch now I home from a week away with my family I plan to look into and fix asap so thank you for your feedback – it helps me make my site better (and yes, it’s still *my* site and all the chatter is still here lol!). If you go directly to the blog though the recipe should still be full width and you can print them, if that makes it better for you?
      The only other thing to say is the Amazon adverts are always, always products I personally use – in each post, you get links to the harder to find or essential bits and pieces you need to make the recipe and on my Amazon Shop, there are lists of products I have used for donkey’s years and trust, so can recommend them to those looking for extra kitchen kit. When people click through to Amazon and buy something, I receive a small commission which currently is the only way I can afford to run my site, delivering all these recipes for free. It costs hundreds and hundreds of pounds a years to produce and maintain and a food blog and as so these links are the only income I make to contribute to it. One day soon, I very much hope to be able to make a living from food writing and food photography but for now, I need these ads just to keep Every Nook & Cranny online! I will be doing a lot of maintenance work on the blog in the coming weeks and I really hope you continue to subscribe and enjoy it. Thanks again for taking the time to comment – I really appreciate it 😀

  3. Derek | Dad With A Pan 21/11/2016 at 16:53 - Reply

    Wow these look really good! Excited to try these out in the next month!

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 17:13 - Reply

      Thanks Derek! Enjoy your mince pies 😀

  4. Christine 21/11/2016 at 17:14 - Reply

    Can never have too many mince pies! Happy holidays! 🙂

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 17:26 - Reply

      Happy Holidays to you too Christine! Yep, there is no such thing as too many mince pies lol

  5. Danya | Love and Cilantro 21/11/2016 at 17:19 - Reply

    I can almost smell these from here! These are so cute and I bet they’re delicious!! 🙂

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 17:27 - Reply

      They do smell incredible with all the spices and festive booze 😉 Thank you Danya!

  6. Vicky @ Avocado Pesto 21/11/2016 at 17:21 - Reply

    These look so pretty and delicious! And I couldn’t agree more about rushing home to the family at Christmas time and being in the kitchen!

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 17:27 - Reply

      It’s the best isn’t it Vicky? I live in the kitchen at the best of times but particularly at Christmas 😀

  7. Mandee Pogue 21/11/2016 at 17:26 - Reply

    This is such an adorable recipe and so easy! I can’t wait to try is this Christmas!

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 17:37 - Reply

      Thanks Mandee! It really is nice and straight forward, making these mince pies 😀 ww

  8. Oh these are simply adorable. I will have to make room on my holiday baking list to include a few of these!

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 17:46 - Reply

      Oh that must be the longest “to bake” list of the year Jacquee lol. I hope you find the time to make these, they really are very good 😀

  9. Aish Das-Padihari 21/11/2016 at 18:07 - Reply

    I’m putting together a list for holiday baking and this post is definitely going there. Thanks for sharing.

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 18:30 - Reply

      Oh yay, thank you Aish! Glad you like the pies so much 😀

  10. Dahn @savor the Best 21/11/2016 at 19:59 - Reply

    these are absolutely adorable. I love mince pie and haven’t made it in a very long time. Gotta get to it!

    • Just Jo 21/11/2016 at 20:02 - Reply

      Aw thanks Dahn – I hope you find the time to make these, they are easy and delicious!

  11. Platter Talk 21/11/2016 at 21:54 - Reply

    We used to have mincemeat pie at every Thanksgiving and Christmas… yours look beautiful.

  12. Laura | Wandercooks 21/11/2016 at 23:57 - Reply

    Yesss! I love your idea of the perfect ratio for mince pies – high five! To be honest I am not a massive fan of the boozy fruit filling (mainly because sultanas, grrr haha), but I adore the crispy crunchy pastry and sugar sprinkled goodness surrounding it. Thank you! Shall definitely make my own batch this year. 😀

    • joblogsjobakes@gmail.com 02/12/2016 at 06:49 - Reply

      Lol yup – I’m all about the *flavour* of the mincemeat rather than bucketloads of filling and thin as paper pastry. It’s all about da crust, da crust, da crust, not filling 😉

  13. GiGi Eats 30/11/2016 at 04:23 - Reply

    Whenever I see the word “mince” or hear it – I always think of meat. But this is certainly NOT meat! ha ha!

    • Just Jo 30/11/2016 at 10:58 - Reply

      Well spotted Gigi, lol 😉 Back in the day, in Ye Olde Medieval Times you *would* have had meat in a mince pie. The name has remained despite the lack of actual meat because of the appearance of all that fruit in it’s rich and boozy syrup – it is reminiscent of mince meat in gravy. It may sound odd if you haven’t grown up in the UK but it’s so so good to eat!

  14. Sarah 30/11/2016 at 11:29 - Reply

    I love this spin on mince meat pie, and more importantly, I think my grandmother will too! Can’t wait to make them for her! XO

    • Just Jo 30/11/2016 at 11:33 - Reply

      Aw I hope your nan enjoys them Sarah x

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