Do you know anyone that doesn't like mince pies? Crazy right?! Well, my flatmate is one of these strange people so I wanted to make her a different sort of pie so she won't miss out next week. I have to say, I would quite happily eat these "Not mince pies" over the real thing!
Adapted from Orange, Cranberry & Almond Mince Pies (Dec 2009) and An Alternative Mince Pie (Nov 2012)
Makes 24 pies
Cooking time: 20 mins (plus 15 mins for chilling)
200g butter, chilled
400g plain flour
100g ground almonds
100g golden caster sugar
zest of 2 clementines
6 tablespoons of milk
1 egg and a splash of milk (for brushing the pastry with)

For the Filling:
2 cooking apples
30g dried cranberries
60g pecans
40g (plus an extra 3 tablespoons) golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 a teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. You can use a food processor or mix the ingredients by hand at this stage. Whichever way you choose, mix the butter, flour and ground almonds until the butter disappears. Then add 100g golden caster sugar, and the clementine zest. 

2. Add the milk and keep mixing until a dough starts to form. This dough is quite crumbly so don't be afraid to add more tablespoons of milk (one at a time) to bring the mixture together. Tip the dough onto your work surface and shape into a flattened ball, kneading it if you need to. Pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes and you can start to prepare the filling for the pies.
3. Preheat the oven to 200 C  (400 F). Put the cranberries in a bowl with some warm water to soften them. 

4. With a saucepan over a medium heat, toast the pecans for a couple of minutes (you can smell when they start to heat up).  Set the nuts aside on a separate plate then sprinkle 3 tablespoons of caster sugar in the pan. It will start to caramelise straight away but don't stir it yet! Once all the sugar crystals have dissolved you can swirl the caramel around a little, then put the pecans back in and coat them - delicious! Try not to eat too many at this point, they can be tipped back onto a plate and allowed to cool.

5. Peel and core the apples, then either chop these and the pecans into very small pieces, or blend them both in a food processor (much easier). 

6. Drain the cranberries and add them to the mix, along with the lemon juice, 40g golden caster sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Mmm cinnamon apple goodness!

7. Either roll out the dough to a thickness of a £1 coin and cut circles out to line your 12 hole baking trays, or take a small apricot sized ball and press flat in your hand. Fill the cases with about a teaspoon of the fruit mix. I used a star cutter to make the tops for my pies but other shapes would work just as well, or have a complete pastry top. 

8. Brush the tops of the pies with the beaten egg and milk mixture then bake for 20 mins at 200 C. Let them cool on a wire rack and serve with your usual mince pie accompaniment. 


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