I’ve been meaning to contribute to Sarah’s “Forever Nigella” monthly round-up for ages. I’m a Nigella devotee. Somehow I even seem to have a copy of “Summer Bites” and that book did too, to be honest. More notes space than recipes in there.
This month’s challenge is “Halloween Horrors” with the instructions to take a Nigella recipes and ‘halloween it up’, basically. So let me introduce to you… the Tiny Teeny Halloweeny Pies.
Tiny Teeny Halloweeny Pies
These are a variation on the Star-Topped Mince Pies from Nigella Christmas. I added a healthy helping of chopped stem ginger in syrup to make these a bit more tangy than your average apple pie and put a little powdered ginger into the pastry.
This just about makes 24 Tiny Pies with their scary faces. It also meant I could use the set of miniature Aspic Cutters I bought about ten years ago in Dean & Deluca. On a cost per use basis – well they were still kind of expensive, but still!
- 2 x 12-cup mini pie baking tins
- 1 x 4 or 5 cm round biscuit cutter
- Aspic cutters or a sharp knife and lots of patience
- rolling pin (this is v handy)
- 160g plain flour
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 40g of Trex (vegetable shortening)
- 40ml of orange juice (without bits!)
- pinch of salt
- 2 cooking apples, to yield about 3oog once peeled and cored
- 2 tbsp of soft brown sugar
- 35g of stem ginger, finely chopped
- Sieve the flour and powdered ginger into a shallow bowl. Add the shortening in small lumps and the diced cold butter, toss gently and put it into the freezer for 20 minutes. At the same time, add the salt to the orange juice and chill that in the fridge. Prep the fruit for later.
- Blitz the flour mixture in the food processor until the breadcrumb stage. Add as much of the orange juice as you need to make it almost come together (you might have surplus juice which is fine; if you run out use iced water to finish up).
- On your work surface, work the mixture into a soft dough. Divide into two batches, roughly one third and two thirds of the mix, and wrap in clingfilm to chill for another 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 220c or Gas Mark 7.
- While the dough is chilling, make your filling. Put the apple, ginger and sugar in a pan with 1tbsp of water and cook down slowly (chop up the apples smaller that I did!) Leave to cool a little while you make the faces and prep the dough cases.
- Use the larger piece of dough for the cases. When rolling out the dough, go as thin as possible – 2mm was what I aimed for. You can patch it up, this dough is pretty forgiving. If you re-roll the scraps enough you will have plenty of dough for 24 mini pies.
- Cut out the cases with the round cutter and lay into the tin holes.
- For the ‘faces’ I had an egg shaped cutter but using a round one, then pulling the face out of shape would be fine. The egg shape worked better sideways too. Use aspic cutters or a knife for the features. Then the leftover triangles you remove can double up as pumpkin stalks.
- Put a half tsp of filling in each one – they bubble over quite a bit.
- Put in the oven and check after 8 minutes. Mine were almost done then – and two more minutes meant they were on the rather well-done side, dammit.
- Decorate with suitable jelly sweets – like the Natural Confectionary Company’s worms, as above.
In hindsight putting some green colouring into the filling would have worked too…if you’re making them for kids you might want to tone down the ginger or add either a dusting of icing sugar or some icing on top.
Looking forward to seeing the rest of the Horrors in the round up! For a slightly healthier treat – well, it does involve more fruit but probably also more sugar – what about Caramel Apples?
PS I notice that Lakeland have something similar to aspic cutters in their Christmas range – Tree Trinket Cutters with mini inserts to stamp out shapes in the interior of the cookie. Melt some boiled sweets in there and you’ve got stained glass cookies!