Simple cupcakes made with ground almonds and filled with mince meat. A quick and easy alternative take on a Christmas classic, and the perfect way to use up left over mince meat.
Happy Saturday everyone! How is your weekend going?
We said goodbye to Russia yesterday, and we’ve made it to the very beautiful Estonia. We arrived into Tallinn in the early hours of this morning. We travelled overnight on the bus from St. Petersburg, hitting the Estonia border at a very antisocial 1.30am. A lengthy 2 hour border crossing later, featuring numerous passport and customs checks, we were finally on the road again, starting the very last stage of our journey back to England. After a very uncomfortable and rather sleepless night, I was all ready to crawl straight into bed and write the day off. That is, until I saw the old town.
Walking into Tallinn’s old town is like going back in time, or stepping into a fairy tale. Its full of creaking medieval buildings, with big wooden door ways, and tiny hidden entrances. Imposing stone towers and delicate church spires. It must be beautiful at any time of year, but at Christmas its enchanting. We wandered down twisting cobbled passageways, and fairy light strewn streets. Wreath hung doorways and lanterns glowing with candle light tempt you further into the town. Right in the middle, in the centre of the town square stands an enormous Christmas tree, covered in lights, gold baubles and stars. Its surrounded by a little Christmas market selling mulled wine, woolly hats and wooden toys from snow dusted stalls.
I feel this year I have been truly spoilt when it comes to Christmas cheer. Every new city we arrive in seems more and more festive. Some years I struggle to get into the Christmas spirit, but this year I’m so excited. There’s a joyful, infectious atmosphere in the air. Families walk together, wrapped up against the cold, children bundled like eskimos, scarfs tied tightly around their necks. Couples sip warm mulled wine held in cold hands and sneak kisses under Christmas lights. This journey is an incredibly magical one to be making at Christmas time, and I feel immensely lucky.
If I had to make one complaint, and it really is only a very tiny one, it would be that I haven’t yet seen a single mince pie. It didn’t quite occur to me what a British thing they were until now. Getting to the 6th of December without having a single mince pie does seem rather wrong somehow, but no doubt I’ll be making up for it soon and eating all the mince pies I can get my hands on.
These little cupcakes are an alternative way to get your mince meat fix in this December. Not that i’d suggest making them instead of traditional mince pies, but they’re quick and easy for the days you don’t want the work of rolling out and cutting pastry. The sponge mixture can be whipped up in minutes, and you’ll have the cupcakes out of the over not long after. I’ve always loved the combination of almonds and mince meat, there’s something wonderfully Christmassy about it. I’ve used shop bought mince meat here, but you could make your own using your favourite recipe. The recipe is for a small batch, just making six cupcakes. The perfect amount to use up any spare mince meat you may have left in the jar. If you want more cupcakes the recipe can be very easily doubled, tripled or more.
I left my cupcakes plain and dusted them with a little bit of icing sugar snow. If you fancied something a little fancier, I think they’d also look lovely with a dribble of white icing and a few flaked almonds.
Have you got any festive plans this weekend?
Almond Mince Pie Cupcakes
70g salted butter
70g light brown muscavado sugar
1 large egg
70g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
35g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 teaspoons mincemeat
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ 350F. Line a 6 hole cupcake tin with paper cases.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and pale.
Add the egg, flour, baking powder, ground almonds and almond extract. Mix to incorporate, then beat until smooth.
Put a generous teaspoon of cake mixture into the bottom of each cupcake case, ensure that the bottom of the case is completely covered with batter, add in a little more if necessary.
Put a teaspoon of mince meat into each case.
Top with the remaining batter, ensuring the mincemeat is fully covered.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.
Cool completely on a wire rack, or eat warm with custard or a generous spoon of brandy butter.