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It is that time of year again, the time to gather the troops and talk about Christmas. As myself, my mother and my sister sat around the table having brunch and glasses of Prosecco, we got all our ducks in a row and organised what was happening this year.  We discussed who brings pudding, who brings wine and who makes the mince pies. But I don’t actually like mince pies, don’t get me wrong, the concept is brilliant, I love the pastry but I sadly just don’t like the mincemeat. So to keep to my own tradition, I always make an alternative mince pie. This year I just used up what I had in my fruit bowl rather than planning ahead. And believe me, these are my best alternative so far. I am very pleased indeed.

I used to adore Christmas, but the last two years have been too rough to handle. While I now have a reason to put on a show at Christmas time (my nine month old baby boy Alexander) I still find that this time of year just holds too much pain. I am sure that it will all improve a little bit each year, and to start, myself and Alexander chose his stocking and wrote a letter to Santa and got a little sign so Santa wouldn’t forget to visit our house. I am somewhat looking forward to sharing this with my son.

So without further delay, I give you my mini crumbles…

titleMINI APPLE, PEAR AND CRANBERRY CRUMBLES

makes 12

For the pies:

  • 400 g finely chopped apples and pears (roughly 2 apples and 2 pears)
  • 60 g dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tsp (30 g) Demerara sugar
  • 80 g unsalted butter
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 sheet (320 g) of ready-made shortcrust pastry

For the crumble:

  • 60 g butter
  • 40 g Demerara sugar
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • 40 g plain flour

THE HOW

Heat the oven to 180 C (fan oven). In a medium saucepan, put the chopped apples, pears and cranberries. Add the sugar, butter, spices, vanilla and water. Turn on the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Allow the mixture to cool slightly, meanwhile you can prepare the cases. If you are like me, you bought the ready rolled pastry (it makes life waaaayyy easier doesn’t it?) If not, then just roll it out until about 2-3 mm thick. Using a large cookie cutter, cut 12 rounds out. Place them in a cupcake baking tray and press the pastry gently with your fingers to shape them to the sides of the tin.

Scoop the mixture into the cases. I use a soup spoon for this as it holds the perfect amount of mix. Don’t over fill as you still have the crumble topping to add. You might have a little leftover, If so, it makes a wonderful topping to your morning porridge the next day.

To make the crumble, melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, ground almonds and flour and give a good mix.

It is a wet crumble which makes it easier to eat when cooked. Press the crumble mix on top of the pies. Pop into the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown and oozing sweet goodness.

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Enjoy with a dollop of cream and a glass of something strong and festive. I know Santa will be happy this year!

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