Chocolate and cherries is a gorgeous combination. Add to fruit mince and you have the most decadent Christmas mince pies imaginable.
These are infinitely better when made with homemade pastry, but if time is short, buy a 400g block of pastry rather than pre-rolled sheets, which are too thin for these pies.
Rich shortcrust pastry 225g (8 ounces) standard flour 1 Tbsp caster (superfine granulated) sugar 170g (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed 1 medium (size 6) free-range egg yolk, beaten with 3–4 Tbsp icy cold water Filling ¾ cup ready-made fruit mince 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest 1 Tbsp lemon juice ½ Tbsp brown sugar 3 Tbsp ground almonds 50g (about 2 ounces) dark chocolate 400g (about 14 ounces) cherries To finish 1 small egg white, lightly beaten Caster (superfine granulated) sugar for sprinkling Icing (confectioner's) sugar for sieving over, optional
1 Make pastry as described here. Rich shortcrust pastry
2 Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a 24-hole tartlet tin (or use 2 x 12‑hole tins) lined with paper as described blow in Recipe notes. Roll out pastry and cut out 24 small stars and 24 x 6cm (2½“)rounds. Gently press pastry rounds into prepared tin and chill along with pastry stars, until firm. You will need to reroll scraps to get enough pastry rounds. Stack the scraps, don’t squelch them together because you will make the pastry greasy and heavy as you squeeze out air. Roll out, then chill for 10 minutes before cutting into rounds.
3 Mix fruit mince, lemon zest and juice, brown sugar, ground almonds and chocolate. Halve and pit cherries. Cut each cherry in half again and add to bowl of fruit mince. Mix well.
4 Fill pastry bases with fruit mixture. Put pastry stars on top, then brush stars with beaten egg white. Dust with caster sugar and bake for 12–15 minutes, until golden. Serve warm.
The fruity filling can ooze, and it’s sticky, so I recommend lining the tartlet tins with strips of baking paper to make it easier to remove the pies. The best way to do this is to cut two strips for each hole and to lay one horizontally and the other vertically so that all the metal around the top of the pastry is covered.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com