For a Brit the Christmas season hasn’t really started until the first mince pie with a glass of sherry has been consumed. A recent conversation with a transatlantic friend suggests that these sweet treats may be acquired taste: I can’t remember specifically discussing mince pies but our delightfully fruity pudding was described as vile and she really can’t be blamed for her lack of enthusiasm for a cake that was made several months ago but, how happy I would be if I could persuade her to convert… I have made mince pies in various guises; a pastry lid (too heavy), a swirl of Swiss shortbread (delicious) and simply glace iced (childhood favourite) but on this occasion tried something different with leftover almond marzipan from the Christmas cake.


Sweet rich Shortcrust to line the tartlet tins, mincemeat laced with brandy then marzipan topping: roll small amounts into balls; flatten with 2 fingers in the palm of your hand, et voila the topping. Pop the pies into a preheated oven at 180° for about 20 minutes until the pastry is deliciously golden; allow to cool before drizzling with icing. An excellent compliment to the dense fruity filling, marzipan looks like a traditional pastry lid but is lighter by far.


Never deterred by adversity, I packaged ‘une petite specialty Anglaise’ in ribbon tied gift bags in order to spread seasonal cheer to a couple of my favourite purveyors: full marks from my butcher who explained that French TV had recently screened a programme that included this delicacy; so far so good…. Next, The Pâtisserie, which I guess, could be viewed as bonkers and admittedly, the Pâtissier himself did look rather perplexed at a customer bringing cakes to him but the huge grin, hug and bises from his dear wife made my morning… I do so hope that they enjoy…