Holiday Baking| Christmas Fruit Mince Pies …

“Marge, it’s 3 AM. Shouldn’t you be baking?”
Homer Simpson

Christmas Mince PiesDid you make your own fruit mincemeat this year? I just about did, and far too late in the month IMHO. I procrastinated forever; then noticed it was the 18th of December and hit the panic button. It was now or never since it needs a few days to soak the fruit. I eventually got it done, also getting distracted along the way …  and suddenly, it was time for a batch of Christmas Fruit Mince Pies!Fruitmince sans suetChristmas Mince PiesDay 3 yesterday and the soaked fruit was looking plump, good and shiny. I should have waited to turn the whole batch into my Garam Masala Christmas Cake, but I couldn’t resist making some little mince pies! {I write this post as my fruit cakes finally bake in the oven!}Baking goodiesChristmas Mince PiesMy sister sent me a load of baking goodies with the BIL who flew in from the US, much like Santa who got here before time. Petit tins of all sizes, something that I love, vanilla beans, sprinkles, a dessert cookie baking tray, a Lindzer cookie cutter, a ‘sack‘ of baking chocolate chips … loads more!Christmas Mince PiesDespite telling her that I hardly bake ‘fancy‘ {read tedious} cookies any more, I pulled out the Lindzer set to make a batch of Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling. Typically, my mind wandered in the opposite direction, and  I whizzed some pâte sucrée in the Thermomix. Soon the dough was being rolled and the Lindzer cookie cutters were being used to make toppings for petit fruitmince pies!Christmas Mince PiesChristmas Mince PiesIts dangerous to have a big bowl of fruit soaking on the counter. Hungry mouths on the prowl get attracted to it, so I hid it … but couldn’t get it it out of my head! Yesterday I figured I could nick some for a before Christmas cake treat. These little pies are fun to make; quick too. I love using the snowflake cutters sweet Nic @ Cherrapeno gave me … so festive!Christmas Mince PiesChristmas Mince Pies Use your favourite pâte sucrée / sweet pastry dough or use the one below. This works a classic 2:1 ratio of flour and butter. As with pie/pastry dough, keep handling/kneading to an absolute minimum. That way you’ll have a nice light, crisp pastry once baked. If you like, you can add some apple to the filling, like Alli did in her Christmas Chocolate & Fruit Mince Pies. Nice!!Christmas Mince Pies

Christmas Fruit Mince Pies


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 24 petit pies

Christmas Fruit Mince Pies

The fruitmince pies get made really fast and make for handsome bites, crisp too. Use your favourite pâte sucrée / sweet pastry dough or use the one below.


1 portion Pâte Sucrée {recipe follows}
1/2 to 3/4 cup fruit mincemeat {recipe follows}

1/2 egg white {or yolk for egg wash}

Vanilla sugar for sprinkling

Pâte Sucrée / Sweet Pastry

200gm all purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

100gm chilled butter, cubed

1 egg, lightly whisked with fork

1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2tbsp chilled water {to bind if required}

Mincemeat or fruit mix, sans suet {you will need about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of this}

700gms raisins, chopped if desired

200 currants

100gms orange peel, chopped

170gms almonds, chopped

250gms cashewnuts, chopped

100gms candied cherries, chopped

1/4 cup Cherry liquor/brandy

1/2 cup rum {or brandy}

3/4 cup fresh orange juice {from 3 keenus/oranges}

Juice of 3-4 limes

Zest of 2 keenus/oranges

4 tbsp garam masala


    Pâte Sucrée / Sweet Pastry
  1. Place the flour, salt, scraped vanilla beans and sugar in bowl of processor and blend briefly. {Thermomix: Speed 6, 5 seconds}
  2. Add chilled butter and process until you get a breadcrumb like mix. {Thermomix: Speed 8, 6-7 seconds}
  3. With the machine running, add the egg and process till it the dough begins to come together. {Thermomix: Speed 8, 7-8 seconds}
  4. If you pinch the dough with your fingertips it should stick together. If not add a tbsp of chilled water and process.
  5. Turn dough onto work surface and pat together into a firm ball. Do not knead / overprocess. Let it rest 10-20 minutes {I left it on the counter as its very cold here. If the temperature is warm, rest the dough in the fridge}.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  7. On a very lightly floured surface, take a quarter of the dough and roll it out thin. Cut out 12 circles with a fluted cookie cutter and place in tart tray. Repeat with next portion of dough.
  8. Fill each base with a heaped tsp of mincemeat.
  9. Now cut out 24 'toppers' from the remaining dough {or a combination of fluted cut-out tops, stars, snowflakes etc} and place over fruit, pressing down slightly.
  10. Brush the tops with a beaten egg white {or egg yolk}, sprinkle with vanilla sugar and bake for 15-18 minutes until light golden brown.
  11. Leave in tray for 1-2 minutes, remove to rack and cool.
  12. Mincemeat / fruitmince or fruit mix, sans suet
  13. Mix all the ingredients nicely and soak overnight in a cool place, or for 3-4 days. The longer you soak the fruit, the more mature the flavour. I soaked mine for 3 days. {You can substitute the alcohol with an equal amount of orange juice too}

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Holiday Baking| Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread {vegetarian}

“Children ask better questions than adults. “May I have a cookie?” “Why is the sky blue?” and “What does a cow say?” are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than “Where’s your manuscript?Why haven’t you called?” and “Who’s your lawyer?“”
Fran Lebowitz

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread“Can I have another squaaaaaaare pleeeeeeease?” You know the cookies are good if that’s what you hear literally reverberating through the house; even better if it’s the call from the dieting diva square after square! These were indeed GOOD Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread cookies!Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread Theres something about December, and something about cookies that make me want to bake; bake all the time actually even though power cuts continue to play spoilsport. Baking around silly powerless situations means more cookies since there are fewer chances of them ‘deflating‘ {unlike cakes} when the lights go off!Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadThe wookies were fabulous for fast track ‘faux baking‘. This shortbread is too, non traditional as it may be. You can’t go wrong with shortbread, caramel and dark chocolate, can you? A combination inspired from many shortbread posts, especially this Chocolate Caramel Slice from Nash @ Plateful, and a ‘Month of shortbread baking‘ from Julia‘Mélanger :: to mix’.Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadThis is the season of holiday baking, and only good could come out of such delicious inspiration. GOOD DELICIOUS COOKIES! Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadDark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadWinter is the only indulgent time of the year here when shortbread feels ‘guilt-less; you need the butter to keep you warm after all. Warm weather the rest of the year makes the crumb not keep together nice and crisp! For the record, this isn’t true shortbread; the traditional version doesn’t venture away from  a 8:4:2 classic combination of flour, butter and sugar… and a dash of salt maybe.Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadI had on hand  hungry kids, butter and a ‘want to bake’ feeling; also a loose bottomed square tin that I had recently bought and was impatient to use. That resulted in … Oats + Almonds + Flour + Butter + Brown Sugar = Crisp shortbread base.Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread …  to which was added some salted butter caramel {adapted from Jamies sweet blog}, the top smothered in deep, luscious, dark melted chocolate; then briefly left to set! Simple as can be. Next with my Ergo chef knife, the slab was cut into squares {you can do bars/rectangles…whatever grabs your fancy}. YUM! ENJOY!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread …


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 25 squares / cookies

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread …

Crisp healthy delicious shortbread topped with a salted butter caramel sauce...then covered in delicious dark chocolate.


110gm all purpose flour

35gm rolled oats

65gm whole almonds

60gm brown sugar

100gm unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes

1/2 cup salted caramel butter sauce {recipe follows}

150gm dark chocolate, melted

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

4 tbs salted butter

200ml low fat cream


    Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread
  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Place flour, oats, brown sugar and almonds in processor and process until ground {Thermomix: Speed10, 30 seconds}
  3. Add chilled butter and process briefly until breadcrumb like mix. {Thermomix: Speed 6, 5-7 seconds}
  4. Turn into lined 8X 8" square tray, pat into place and bake for about 45 minutes until light golden brown and firm.
  5. Cool completely.
  6. Run the salted butter caramel sauce in microwave until warm and melted. {Will still be thick batter like}
  7. Pour it over the cooled shortcrust, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Leave in fridge for about an hour to cool completely.
  8. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or double boiler, and pour evenly over the caramel. Handle the melted chocolate as little as you can to keep it shiny. Spread with an offset spatula to the edges. Leave to set in the fridge for about an hour. Cut into squares.
  9. Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
  10. Melt the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until completely melted and caramel in color. Lower the heat to low and whisk in the butter in about 3 or 4 additions.
  11. Continuing to whisk, add the cream in a slow stream; the caramel may foam up, but keep whisking, as it will calm down once all the cream is added and will turn to… a smooth caramel. Once it is smooth and creamy, remove from the heat and allow to cool at least to tepid before serving.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking| Perfect Pumpkin Pie … and simple too {#getsmart}

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”
Jim Davis

Perfect Pumpkin Pie India is pretty much pumpkin country, the yellow and rather mellow squash that you will find around every nook and corner all year through, a vegetable I looked at rather disdainfully until I made my first Praline Pumpkin Pie 2 years ago. The lad nudges me this time every year to remind me he l♥ves it! This one is for him – a Perfect Pumpkin Pie.Perfect Pumpkin Pie Mentally conditioned by food blogs, lovely pumpkin posts painting the net in a orange hue, I eagerly await fall. It makes me look at the pumpkin in wonder, a rather underestimated veggie, yet one that holds a lot of promise. The beautiful flavour of the pumpkin soup I shared with Jamie in London holds a special connect. It was the company, the atmosphere, the euphoria of that first time we all met. Somewhere in the middle of all this, the humble pumpkin got an even more elevated status in my life!Perfect Pumpkin Pie I made soup last year, and for some silly reason it never got blogged. This pumpkin pie is the result of inspiration out of the blue. I saw a mail in my inbox saying ‘If you had two extra hours in a day, how would you spend it?‘ … and I thought, hmmm, I wonder!Perfect Pumpkin Pie An extra 2 hours for the obsessed baker in me is like an impossible dream. My life seems to run choc-a-bloc morning to night, balancing the fine act of racing through laundry, trying to feed a blog, a brood, a pooch, snatching a few harassed moments to take photographs while the dog is now tall enough to get to table tops {… CUTE as a button too}, grocery {sigh}…and then emails of course!CocoThat thought stayed in my mind while I ran the laundry that morning, and teased me while I went to the vegetable vendor, our fabulous sabziwala. Someone was buying pumpkin and the fellow cut a nice bright one for her. That was my cue!Perfect Pumpkin PieGive me 2 extra hours and watch me bake with joy, bake something to fill home with autumnal aromas, pumpkin gently roasting {of course you can buy it canned as well in the rest of the world, but we know no luxuries of the sort in India!}. Much from scratch with this too, I have never had tomatoes or pumpkin out of a can here. I have read though that fresh roasted pumpkin beats the canned one hands down. Got an extra hour? Roast some!Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Perfect Pumpkin PieI always have tins of condensed milk on hand after having indulged in this absolutely addictive Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream from Perfect Scoop. You need less than an hour to make it, need resolve to keep away from the freezer, and finally 10 minutes to polish it off. But if you can grab those two extra hours, then I recommend you head for pie!
Perfect Pumpkin PieThe verdict was delicious! The terrible teen screwed up her nose and said “Ewwwwwww …. pumpkin!!,” and then predictably went on to ravenously demolish the slice, and ask for another. There was something about it!! The boy lapped it up … it was his on request after all!!Perfect Pumpkin PiePerfect Pumpkin PieThis is a pie right for fall. The filling … silky, smooth and spicy! The crust just right, not too crisp, yet offers a handsome bite, gently teasing the palette with beautiful pistachio flavours and a pleasing texture. I wish I could offer you a slice…it was that good, and it went FAST!

Perfect Pumpkin Pie …with fresh roasted pumpkin puree


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: One 9 inch pie


Perfect Pumpkin Pie …with fresh roasted pumpkin puree

This is a pie right for fall. The filling … silky, smooth and spicy! The crust just right, not too crisp, yet offers a handsome bite, gently teasing the palette with beautiful pistachio flavours and a pleasing texture. {Filling from Eagle -}


Pumpkin puree

600gm pumpkin with peel

2tsp pumpkin pie spice

50gm powdered sugar

Pistachio Pie Crust for 1 9" pie

100gm unsalted butter, chilled, cubed

150gm cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar

50gm pistachios

1/2 teaspoon salt

2-3 tbsp cold water

Pumpkin Pie Filling

440gm roasted pumpkin puree {recipe above}

1 can condensed milk

2 large eggs

1/2 vanilla bean scraped

1/2 teaspoon salt


    Pumpkin puree
  1. Remove seeds etc of pumpkin {I used a long slice}, wrap in foil and bake at 180C for about 45 minutes.
  2. Once warm enough to handle, peel and chop the roasted pumpkin, add pie spice and sugar and puree. I find that the pie spice gets an enhanced flavour in warm puree and matures well.
  3. Yields about 425-440gms of pumpkin puree {approximately 1 15oz can}
  4. Perfect Pie Crust
  5. Blend flour, pistachios, sugar and salt in processor till nuts are ground very fine, {Thermomix: Speed 8, 7 seconds}
  6. Add butter and blend until you get breadcrumb like mix, and then a little more {2-3 seconds}. Add water, 1 tbsp at a time, and process till the dough begins to hold together when you pinch it. {Thermomix Speed 6, 5 seconds}
  7. Turn onto work surface and pat together gently into a ball {donot overwork dough}
  8. Either roll between 2 sheets of baking parchment to line the pie tin, or push into place with your fingertips. Chill for about 30 minutes.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 15 minutes. Cool. {I baked mine in the last 15 minutes while the pumpkin was roasting}
  10. Assembling Pie
  11. Preheat oven to 190C. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  12. Reduce oven temperature to 180C and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

And since I had so much extra time, I shot some pictures of out CUTE Coco … she was ‘all eyes’!! Oh to have those extra two hours more often!Coco
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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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