Festive Muffins - Healthier than Traditional Mincemeat Pies
These festive muffins are a lighter alternative to the traditional British mince pies and are great for sharing with visitors over the holidays.
Although all muffins tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than mince pies, these muffins are even lower than most. That's because the recipe uses sunflower oil instead of butter and water instead of milk.
Longer Lasting Muffins
Another advantage of using water is that the muffins keep fresh longer - though these probably won't last long enough for you to find out. I use a pureed dates instead of sugar, but I have also included quantities for sugar should you prefer to use this.
This recipe makes 12 standard sized muffins.
Equipment you will need:
A large baking bowl
A small bowl
A glass measuring jug (and, if you have them, some kitchen scales)
A twelve-hole standard muffin tin
Some pretty festive paper muffin cases – or red and green silicone muffin cases
Make Your Own “Mincemeat."
If you don’t have any mincemeat, you could get a similar effect by finely chopping one apple, and then put it in a pan, add 2 tablespoons of sultanas or raisins, a teaspoon of mixed spice, and a tablespoon of molasses. To make it even more festive add a tablespoon of cranberries. Cook this gently until the apples are soft and then use in the recipe above in same way as the mincemeat.
- 9 oz/250g/ 2 cups and 2 tablespoons flour. (I use a mix of half plain and half wholegrain, but you can vary this according to taste - or according to what you have in your store cupboard!)
- 3 teaspoons baking powder (if you are using self-raising flour reduce this to 1 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of cloves, or a teaspoon of mixed spice
- 2 eggs
- 4fl oz/90ml/half a cup sunflower or corn oil
- Around 6 – 8 fl oz/60 – 90ml/ ¾ -1 cup water, with some extra if using the dates. (The quantity of water needed will vary depending on the flour used; wholemeal needs more than white flour.)
- Around 100gram/4 oz of mincemeat – this is about a third of a jar. Mincemeat keeps well in the fridge, so you can store the rest to use another timeEither:
- 3 oz/85g (⅓of a cup) of sugar
- 4 oz/110g/half a cup dried dates
1)Line muffin tins with paper cases . Preheat oven to 190- 200c/375 - 400F or 170c for a fan oven. Gas: mark 5 – 6 on middle rack, 4 – 5 on top.
2) If using dates, put them in a small pan, with just enough water to cover them, and boil gently for a few minutes, until the dates look soft and most of the water is absorbed. Then remove from the heat and puree. A hand-held blender is ideal for this. (The photo opposite shows the texture of dates put through a food processor, a handheld blender will get them even smoother, but mine is currently broken!)
3) In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and cloves. (See top photo, opposite the list of ingredients.)
4) In another bowl, beat eggs with a fork. Add the oil and around half of the water.
5) Add pureed dates or sugar to wet ingredients.
6) Pour all of the wet mixture into the dry.
Stir until just combined and no dry flour is visible.
Add more of the water until the mixture can easily drop off your spoon. (How much water you need will vary depending on the type of flour you use. Wholemeal generally needs more than white.)
7) Using a dessertspoon, place a layer of mixture in each muffin case.
This should use about half your mixture.
8) Place a teaspoon of mincemeat on each muffin, as shown in the pictures on the right.
9) Spoon the remaining mixture into the muffin cases, covering over the mincemeat. (This step is shown in the bottom right picture.)
10) Bake for 20 – 25 minutes for standard size.
Press a muffin top gently and if it springs back then the muffins are done.
Let them cool a little before you eat them as mincemeat gets very hot.
A muffin bursting with mincemeat
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