A few years back I set up a local dinner party group and we take it in turns to host dinner parties to which the guests bring either the starter, the dessert or an appropriate wine. As we only have to prepare one course it frees us up to spend a little extra time to produce something special and to share it with friends.
This week it was my turn to make the dessert, and having made up a fresh batch of homemade mincemeat last week for this blog it made sense to use that. The end result was this delicious pear and mincemeat pie made with melt in the mouth hazelnut and orange flavoured pastry. The pastry is very crumbly and there was a tense moment removing it from the tin (feel free to bake the pie in a dish to avoid that stress). Sensibly I decided to take it out of the tin before I had had a glass of wine or two.
The pastry is quite easy to make but you do need a food processor to make it as you have to grind the hazelnuts first. You may be able to buy ground hazelnuts but they can be difficult to find. If you don’t have a food processor then you could use ground almonds instead. Despite being a rich sweet pastry it is quite easy to handle. If you have difficulty rolling it out, then rolling between two sheets of cling film or parchment will make it easier.
When it comes to covering the top of the pear and mincemeat pie it is a chance for you to be creative. You could put a solid top on the pie but I think it looks so pretty with some of the filling peaking through the pastry. The leaves swirling down from the trees at this time of the year inspired me to make the top using various leaf shaped cutters. I cut them out then arranged them slightly overlapping until most of the filling is covered. You could use snow flake shape cutters or star cutters if you prefer or arrange strips of pastry in a lattice pattern over the top. the choice is really up to you.
The pie is delicious served hot or cold. I opted for an indulgent whipped cream flavoured with a little Cointreau to enhance the orange flavour of the pastry. Ice-cream would be good with it too, but if your in the mood for some serious comfort food then I would go for custard.
- for the pastry
- 100g blanched hazelnuts
- 225g plain flour
- 25g icing sugar
- 175g butter, cut into cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- juice of ½ orange
- beaten egg white, to glaze
- caster sugar to sprinkle
- for the filling
- 4 pears, peeled cored and sliced
- 500g mincemeat
- juice of ½ orange
- To make the pastry, place the hazelnuts in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add the flour and icing sugar, and blitz again.
- Add the butter and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the orange zest, juice and egg yolk and blitz in short bursts until the pastry starts to clump together.
- Tip out onto a work surface and finish bringing the pastry together with your hands to form a dough. Cover and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Roll out about ¾ of the pastry and use to line a 25cm deep round flan tin or pie dish. Prick the base with a fork and chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile to prepare the filling, mix the pears, mincemeat and orange juice together in a bowl. Pile into the pastry case and level the top as evenly as possible.
- Preheat the oven to 190℃/180℃ fan/gas mark 5. Roll out the remaining pastry and use a cutter to cut out shapes and place over the top of the filling overlapping abut leaving a small amount of the filling showing through in place.
- Lightly beat the egg white with a fork and brush over the pastry shapes and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
- Bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Alternatively cool completely and serve cold.
The pie can be made and frozen before baking. Open freeze before wrapping well and store for up to 6 months. Allow to thaw completely and glaze with egg white and sugar just before baking
The cooked pie can also be frozen for up to 3 months.