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Since I got married I always spend a couple of days in the kitchen before Christmas baking cookies and cakes for friends and family.

It's our family tradition and I love to renovated it each year with my daughters, even if this period of the year is busy like for everybody.

 Nowadays we can do our shopping with a click, but I strongly believe that an homemade gift is never just a cookie or a marmalade jar , but it' s the precious thing you can donate to a friend: your time.

My Christmas food repertoire includes always family favourites together with something new, like these Mince pies.

It was a long week-end with my husband, without kids. My first time in London in wintertime. We spent hours and hours  walking through our favourite City decorated for the incoming Christmas.  I remember the stunning lights and decorations, Christmas lights and the decorations, the leaves carpet in St. James Park, the cold cold weather and smoking tea cups with these spiced little cookies.

Raisins, cranberries, nuts, rum, cinnamon... Christmas in a bite.

As you can easily imagine , I came back home with a mince pie pan in my luggage -  yes my husband is an angel.

The mince pie filling, called mincemeat as originally contained meat, is easy to make, you just need to remember to mix all the ingredients the day before, as need to be refrigerated overnight. You can also change some ingredients, following your personal taste.

Mince pies

filling: 75 g. walnuts, chopped – 50 g. unsalted pistachios, chopped – 1 lemon zest – 1 orange zest – 125 apple, grated – 100 g. raisin – 100 g. cranberries – 85 g. brown sugar – 1 teaspoon cinnamon – half teaspoon ground ginger – ¼ teaspoon ground cloves – 2 tablespoon dark rum – 50 g. butter.

The night before mix all the ingredients in a bowl, except the butter. Cover the bowl with a cling film and refrigerate overnight.The days after put the filling in a pan add the butter and bring to the boil. Cook for ten minutes at medium heat. 

Turn it off and let it cool completely before use. 

pastry crust: 200 g. plain flour – 1 pinch of salt - 50 g. icing sugar – 125 g. unsalted butter, cubed – 1 egg

In a food processor combine flour, sugar, salt. Add the butter and pulse until you will obtain a crumbly consistency. Add in the egg and pulse again until the dough comes together.

Cover with a clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour. You can prepare the dough even a couple of days before. Take it out of the fridge ten minutes before using.

Preheat the oven to 180°

Roll out the pastry on a clean flour-dusted surface to 3 mm thick. Cut the circles using a 8 cm round pastry cutter.

Press them into the greased tin, add about 1 big teaspoon of filling and decorate with a star.

Bake for 25/30 minutes.

You can serve them warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar.

Makes 15