Mince pies for many are a huge part of Christmas celebrations, but a sweet white flour pastry, filled with high amounts of sugar and an abundance of high sugar dried fruits makes mince pies no better than a sugar laden pack of sweets as far as blood glucose levels are concerned.
It’s for this reason that for years I’ve suggested that it’s best to avoid mince pies altogether. But this year I thought it is time to face these sweet little treats face on and try my best to come up with a recipe which is much lower in carbs, without any added sugars!
These mince pies are not as low carb as my usual recipes, but well paired with a good helping of cream, I believe these are a fab lower carb alternative!
The mincemeat mixture can be made ahead of time and frozen if you wish, but for the filo pastry cases should be made fresh as they are too delicate to make in advance.
Peel and core the apples, then dice into small pieces (approx. 0.5cm thick)
Add the diced apple to a saucepan and cover with the juice of half a lemon and stir well
Add the Sukrin Gold, seeds scraped from one vanilla pod, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and stir well to coat everything
Add the dried blueberries and cranberries to the apple pieces, stir well and set aside (the dried fruits will start to plump with the moisture from the lemon juice and apple)
Zest a lemon and orange with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife so that you get thick strips of peel. Then slice the strips into matchstick sized pieces and chop finely to create 2 tablespoons of orange and 1 of lemon, then add to the apple and mix well
Finley chop the pecans and add into saucepan. This mixture is the 'mincemeat' for the mince pies
Heat the apple mixture, covered, over a medium heat, for approx. 7-10 minutes or until the apples soften slightly. This can also be done in the microwave in short bursts. It is important to keep uncovering and stirring the mixture well, every few minutes to ensure the mixture does not stick or catch/burn. You are looking for the apples to soften and to produce a slight sauce/purée, however you still want them to hold their shape and a slight 'bite' and not completely soften to a purée. Once the apples are the right consistency, remove the pan fro m the heat and set aside to cool. For the best flavour, chill the mincemeat overnight.
*This 'mincemeat' can be chilled or frozen to make the mince pies at a later time if you wish
For the mince pies
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c (this is based on a fan assisted oven) and add a muffin tin. You can make 6 large (cupcake) sized mince pies, or 12 mini mince pies using a mini muffin tin. Heating the tin in the oven while you prepare the filo pastry slices helps to ensure the bottoms of your mince pies do not get soggy bottoms!
Cut filo pastry into 12 cm squares for large (cupcake) sized mince pies, or 6 cm squares if making mini mince pies (each mince pie requires 3 squares of filo pastry). The easiest way to do this is by using sharp scissors. Take the filo out of the box, keeping it layered so that you can cut multiple sheets at a time. Measure out the squares and then cut using scissors rather than a knife. Keep the filo between damp sheets of kitchen roll, or a tea towel to ensure the filo does not dry out too much
Melt the butter , then remove the heated muffin tin from the oven. Using a pastry brush, line the inside of a muffin tin holes with melted butter (6 or 12 depending on the size you are making)
To form the filo pastry case; take a square of filo. Press the centre of the square into the muffin tin hole carefully, ensuring it is pushed down into the bottom edges (the pastry should fold on itself to fit and create a lining with pointed edges sticking up. Brush the filo pastry at bottom of the hole with melted butter again, then take another square of filo, staggering it slightly and repeat. Brush with more butter and repeat again. The result should be a pastry case forms with points at the pastry edges which look like a star
Brush each case very lightly and gently with melted butter including the pointed star edges
Put the filo pastry cases into the oven and bake for 5 minutes (or until just very slightly lightly golden *please note, this is just to ensure the bottoms of the mince pies are not soggy, the mince pies will be put back in the oven shortly and so you do not want to crisp them up too much or burn them
Remove the muffin tin from the oven and fill the middle of each filo case with the mincemeat mixture
Top each mince pie with toasted flaked almonds
Return the mince pies to oven to crispen the star edges until they are golden. You must watch this rather than timing and walking away as the filo pastry can catch and burn very quickly
Remove from the muffin tin and place on a serving plate. Dust with powdered erythritol sweetener for an icing sugar look and taste and serve with a good helping a extra thick double cream (you really need cream with these to help pair them, without they may be too hard to tolerate!)
* You can use 3 Granny Smith apples instead of Bramley apples, however these will not produce the same texture (and sauce) when cooking as they hold their shape and form more. Bramley and Granny Smith apples work best in this recipe as they are more tart and lower in carbs than other eating apples. Other apples and pears could be used, but bear in mind that this will increase the carbs.
*You can use vanilla extract instead of the seeds from a split vanilla pod, however this will increase the carbs and so it's best to use a vanilla pod.
*Other nuts could be used in this recipe, however I opted to use pecans sue to their flavour and texture. You can use the packs of 'chopped nuts' instead, or another nut such as almonds. Avoid cashews as these are too high in carbs. If you need a nut free recipe, then it advisable to add seeds instead as the nuts in this recipe provide much needed additional fat and protein to help pair the other ingredients.
*Sukrin Gold is a brown sweetener alternative. It really is the best sweetener for this recipe as it provides a much needed brown sugar taste. If you cannot get this sweetener, then erythritol sweetener, Xylitol, Natvia, or Truvia can be used instead. Avoid using cheaper sweetener alternatives (red lidded sweeteners like Canderel, yellow lidded sweeteners like Splenda and green lidded own brand Stevia blends) as they do not give the same results in the recipe, can ruin the flavour and cause unpleasant aftertastes.
*Powdered erythritol sweetener is the best sweetener I've found for dusting on top of things to give the same look and taste as icing sugar. Alternatives to this would be Sukrin icing sweetener, ground Xylitol/Natvia/Truvia. Or you could dust with ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg instead too.
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