Nothing heralds the start of the festive season more than a plate of homemade, fragrant, warm mince pies. Sweet, spicy, fruity and delicious, they are a staple of the British winter holiday season. And since mince pies have no apparent religious significance, I can see no reason not to slot them in next to the latkes in the list of seasonal treats that I make for Chanukah!
Traditional mincemeat is made weeks in advance of using and ‘matured’ in jars before filling pies. I’m not that organised, sadly, so I’ve concocted this recipe for ‘instant mincemeat’ which you can whip together on the day you want to use it, and is 98% as good – close enough as far as I’m concerned. Mincemeat usually has a good slug of alcohol in it, and I’ve used Palwin sweet red kiddush wine (plus a splash of rum), to give a really wonderful Chanukah flavour.
Palwin wines have a long tradition here in the UK. They first appeared in 1898, and Palwin is probably the oldest kosher wine brand still in existence. Palwin no. 10 – a sweet, red, dessert wine usually used for kiddush – is now the only product sold under the Palwin label. It is used throughout the year but seems particularly suited to Chanukah recipes as it is also called ‘Menorah’!
Palwin no. 10 is made from freshly gathered wine grapes, without the addition of water or sugar – a rarity among kiddush wines – making it less sweet and more ‘winey’ than some others. Its unique flavour is instantly recognisable to the majority of British Jews, and I think its fruity richness goes brilliantly with the dried fruits, spices and nuts in these delicious Chanukah mince pies.
The butter pastry for these pies, while simple, is utterly fabulous, so if you have no reason to make them parve, I urge you to eschew the margarine and make these mince pies with butter instead. You won’t regret it. And since they’re already milchig you might as well serve them with a dollop of cream…
I cut out the tops of my Chanukah mince pies using the menorah, dreidel and magen david shapes from this Chanukah cutter set. They are the perfect size to top a mince pie! You can use them to cut out Chanukah cookies too, if that’s your thing. (I also recommend this fabulous rolling pin, for perfect evenly rolled out pastry every time.)
Palwin no. 10 (‘Menorah’) is available from the Kosher sections of major UK supermarkets, as well as independent kosher shops and wine merchants.
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Chanukah mince pies with kiddush wine mincemeat
For the mincemeat
- 1 apple
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp butter or margarine
- 1.5 tsp mixed spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
- 0.5 tsp ground allspice
- 100 g raisins, sultanas, or a mixture of both (3/4 cup)
- 65 g dried cranberries (1/2 cup)
- 1 tbsp chopped candied peel
- 2 tbsp Palwin no. 10 sweet red kiddush wine + a little extra
- zest and juice of a tangerine
- 2 tbsp chopped nuts
- 1 tbsp rum
For the pastry
- 300 g plain flour (2 cups)
- 150 g cold butter or margarine (2/3 cup or 1 1/4 sticks)
- 50-60 ml cold water (approx. 1/4 cup)
- A little milk and sugar for the tops.
To make the mincemeat pie filing
Peel, core and grate the apple. Place in a saucepan with the brown sugar, butter, mixed spice and allspice. Cook over a low heat for 3-4 minutes until bubbling and well mixed.
Add the raisins, cranberries, candied peel, kiddush wine, and tangerine zest and juice. Mix well, cover the pan, and leave to cool.
Once cold, stir in the nuts and rum. If the mixture looks a little dry, add a splash more kiddush wine.
To make the pastry
Put the flour into the bowl of the food processor. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the bowl. Process just until a crumbly texture is formed.
With the motor running, slowly pour in the water - you may not need all of it. Stop as soon as the mixture forms into a ball.
Press the ball into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.
To make the pies
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
Roll out the pastry to 4mm thickness. Use a fluted cutter to cut circles and gently press them into the spaces in a tartlet/cupcake tin.
Add a generous tablespoon of filling to each pie.
Re-roll the pastry if necessary, and cut out Chanukah shapes - dreidels, menorahs and stars - and use them to top the pies.
Brush the tops with a little milk (or milk alternative) and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 200C (400F) for around 20 minutes until lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. Delicious warm or cold!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Kedem Europe, distributors of Palwin wines. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.