Mince pies are a long-standing Christmas tradition, but of course the standard versions use mincemeat or suet. Nineteenth-century American housewives began making mock mince pies, and they’re so good that I suspect no one ever missed the meat. This version has an additional twist—a bit of cocoa for a deep, rich flavor.
Makes: One 9-inch pie, 8 servings
- 1/4 cup dry unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee
- 1/4 cup natural granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses (preferably) or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup dark raisins or currants
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
- 3/4 cup fine fresh whole-grain bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger and nutmeg
- One 9-inch pastry crust
- 1 tablespoon nonhydrogenated margarine
- 1/4 cup fine fresh whole-grain bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons natural granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and stir until smoothly dissolved and combined. Add the currants, raisins, and apples and simmer over low heat, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, nuts, vanilla, and spices. Pour in the mixture from the saucepan and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into the pastry crust.
Melt the margarine in the same saucepan used previously. Remove from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden.
Let cool and serve just warm or at room temperature.