Monday, 7 November 2016


So Halloween is over and Bonfire night has been and gone, which can only mean one thing... CHRISTMAS! Some may say it may just been a teeny bit early to be thinking about the festivities and all that they entail and others may already have cracked out the tinsel and be galloping around their house to jingle bell rock. Which ever side you're on, it's inevitable that over the next couple of weeks Christmas will be everywhere.

Lots of words are synonymous with Christmas and I think mince pies have to be right up there as mince pies have always been in my family, annually being very nicely done by my nana. Whether I was leaving one for santa when I was little or having one with a cuppa each day of advent, mince pies and Christmas just sort of go hand in hand. But not everybody shares the love of these fruity little treats, bringing me to create this recipe as an alternative to mince pie but still keeping the yummy, buttery pastry.

Caramelised apple is proving to be very popular in my family either in a traditional apple pie with a crumbly crust or an apple betty - which I will admit I had no idea what one was until my mum literally begged that I bake her one.

For this recipe I used freshly picked bramley apples that my mum got from a friend at work, and homemade caramel sauce. But you can use any bramley apples are good and if you aren't keen on making your own caramel you can easily pick a tin of it up.

The Pastry
375g plain flour
265g unsalted butter (at room temp)
130g brown sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
1 large egg (and another egg beaten for glazing)

The filling
3 large bramley apples
1 packet of walnut halves 
200ml double cream
250g brown sugar
60g unsalted butter (at room temp)

The method

*Preheat the oven to 220 celsius and grease a muffin tin.  

1. First we are going to make the short crust pastry. To begin with measure and sieve the plain flour and add in the butter, rub together until a breadcrumb consistency is made. Add the sugar and egg into the breadcrumbs and with an electrical mixer (or by hand) mix together. Just be careful not to over mix. 

2. Gently sprinkle flour onto a surface, remove the pastry from the bowl and fold on the floured surface until the pastry comes together. You can then wrap the pastry in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. 

3. Whilst your pastry is chilling you can begin by peeling the apples and cutting them into segments of four. Place them in a deep, medium pan and fill the pan up just enough to cover the apples with normal temp water. Put the pan on a medium heat and add a sprinkle of sugar to the apples and allow to boil for 5-10 minutes. After the apples have boiled drain them as to ensure there is no remaining water. Put to one side for later.

4. Take your pastry out of the fridge and place onto the floured surface again. Roll out the pastry to approx 3mm thick and using a circular cookie cutter cut 16 circles and place them into the greased muffin tray. With the remaining pastry, re-roll it out to the same thickness but this time take your star cookie cutter and cut a further 16 stars out (you can keep these to one side on a floured plate to put on top of your pies later)

5. Now we can make the homemade caramel sauce. Obviously you can buy caramel sauce in a tin if you want, but I much prefer to make my own. Take a medium pan and add your sugar plus 4tbsp of water before putting on a medium heat. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved. It is important you keep stirring as the sugar can stick if it is not being watched (yes I learnt the hard way...) 

6. Once the sugar has dissolved turn up the heat and allow the sugar to bubble for roughly 8-10 minutes - just keep stirring! Then take off the hob and add the butter and cream, continually stirring until all is dissolved. 

7. Cover apples in caramel sauce and add the walnuts to the mix. Ensure both apples and walnuts are completely covered in caramel and slowly begin to fill your pastry cups. 

8. With the beaten egg use a pastry brush to brush the sides of the pastry cup before adding your star to the top and pushing down at the edges to ensure it is sealed. You can then finish off the pie by dusting with more egg and sprinkling some brown sugar on top. 

9. Pop them into the oven for 15-20 minutes (until a nice, golden brown) and allow to cool for a further 15 minutes before removing from the muffin tins. 

10. Serve to taste, perhaps with extra cream? And enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! I was contacted by Wren Kitchens to come up with an alternative Christmas recipe for their Wren Christmas Campaign whereby each advent day has a blogger share there favourite alternative holiday recipe. I was so excited to come up with this and share it with everyone. What do you think? Is this something you would be tempted to make yourself? Or can you think of any other good, alternative Christmas recipes based on traditions?

You can find other delicious festive recipes here:  

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