It simply would not be Christmas without a still warm mince pie or three.
And there is good news, nay, great news afoot! With very minimal fiddling, and still using what I think of as real ingredients, I have managed to use my age old Mince Pie with Cream Cheese Pastry to make these beauties – for 3 to 3.5 Syns per pie!
I must admit, I have been worrying a lot about Christmas this year. I had hoped to have lost all 50 lbs (3.5 stone) by now but I am still 11 lbs away and I do not want to undo all the hard work I’ve undertaken to get here. But I also want to have my favourite festive food – argh!
Well, it is Christmas isn’t it? There are a few strategies for folk who are trying to lose weight at this time of year – the extremes being first the “oh sod it” approach, where you throw caution to the wind, drink all the mulled win, and eat all the pies.
The second being the “Christmas Grinch” approach where you deny yourself the high calorie snacks and stick rigidly to your plan. Cue much whingeing from friends and family that you are no fun and a real diet bore if you adopt this approach!
I have to admit, I am leaning more towards approach two but I will be calling almost all the bets off on Christmas Day itself – I can’t not have stuffing, and sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts and of course, a large helping of my Christmas Pudding and rum sauce.
My compromise is that I will allow myself to have some treats, as long as they fall into my daily Syn allowance. Roughly! My Christmas Cake is likely about 20-30 syns per slice and quite frankly, wild horses aren’t dragging me away from at least one slab over the festive season.
Luckily I don’t have to feel deprived of the Christmas Cake vibes as my Mince Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry are so delicious and if I wanted to, I could have 4 a day and stay within my Syns quota! I must admit, two are enough plus I can then have a squirt of cream on each of them and make more of a dessert than a sweet treat nibble.
Let’s look at how easy it is to make these proper Mince Pies:
I find that making pastry in the food processor is the easiest, least messy way to do it and not handling the pastry directly means you are far less likely to overwork the dough and toughen it up. This pastry uses self-raising flour to give it lightness of texture and instead of full fat cream cheese and butter, I switch to lower fat versions without compromise.
A splash of vanilla extract helps sweeten the dough without adding to the calories and I reduce the sugar to just one tablespoon. It helps with making the texture short, flaky and light so don’t leave it out but you can certainly enjoy these mince pies with far less added sugar than my original recipe.
I stretch the pastry further by only stamping out some little stars with a plunger cookie cutter rather than covering the pie fully. I use my Instant Pot Amaretto Mincemeat to fill my pies with and highly recommend you give it a try too, but you can of course buy yourself a jar. It’s sweet and treacly and these little open tart style mince pies really showcase it perfectly.
For the serious sweet tooth folk out there, you can dust the pies with a little icing sugar before serving or if you want a Syn Free festive sprinkle, then how about using a tea strainer to sift over a little ground cinnamon? A little edible glitter would be magical too.
For the pastry:
- 300g self-raising flour
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 75g light/low fat spread (SEE NOTES BELOW)
- 75g Philadelphia Lightest
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- To fill:
- 8 level tbsp mincemeat (24 tsp worth!)
- To glaze:
- 1 beaten egg
- 2 tsp icing sugar
- Put the flour, caster sugar, low fat spread (see notes section) and cream cheese in the food processor and pulse until you get a fine porridge-like texture.
- Add the vanilla extract and egg and again, pulse, this time dribbling in a little cold water if needed to bring the pastry together. You are looking for large chunks of pastry as you pulse the food processor; it is better to stop too soon than over work the pastry.
- Tip the dough onto a piece of clingfilm and using the film, flatten it to a disk shape and chill for at least one hour if not overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180˚C.
- Roll the pastry out on a piece of baking parchment using the cling film you wrapped it in on top of the pastry, so you do not have to use extra flour to roll it out. Roll out 1-2mm thick.
- Cut out circles of pastry just slightly larger than your tart tin (shallow bun tins or the jam tart/mince pie tin I link to below are best) and line the tin.
- Put 2 level tsp of mincemeat into each pastry case and flatten it.
- Use the scraps of pastry to cut out little star shapes and divide between the pies.
- Using the beaten egg, glaze any exposed pastry and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown around the edges.
- Allow to cool briefly then use a plastic knife or spatula so you don't damage your nonstick tin to loosen the pies up and after about 10 minutes, transfer to a rack to cool. The filling will be extremely hot so wait at least 30 minutes before tucking in! Dust with icing sugar if liked before serving (see notes below).
Recipe Notes - Choice of Fat:
- Low fat spreads (margarines) vary greatly in their Syn value so use an official source to check the Syns before purchasing yours
- I use "Norpak Lighter" from Aldi which brings the pies out at 3.5 Syns per pie
- Flora Lighter than Light reduces the Syns to 3 Syns per pie
Recipe Notes - Sugar Choice:
- I prefer to use "real" sugar and Syn it but you could reduce the Syns by using artificial sweetener if you like - I haven't tested this pastry with it though
- Using up to 2 tsp of icing sugar to dust the finished pies with adds 2 Syns to all 24 mince pies - this is a negligible addition to the overall Syn value but leave it out if you prefer
- Syn values given are correct at time of writing but may not always be accurate.
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