Mince Pies (from scratch)...

Mince Pies are Christmas essentials. There's loads of choice out there in the shops; deep fill, luxury, shortcrust, puff, lattice, big, small... However, they just aren't ever quite the same as ones you make yourself. This year I felt inspired to give homemade mincemeat a go, and turned to Delia for a recipe.

I was pleasanty surprised how simple it is, and so tasty too! Everyone should give it a go, you'll never look back.

Mincemeat: I followed Delia's recipe, except using pre-ground nutmeg as I couldn't get hold of fresh. Can't see this being a problem.
I've got some thoughts for variation below though.
This recipe makes LOADS of mince pies, so you'll have them coming out of your ears.

200g Plain Flour
100g Butter
1 Egg
2tbsp Icing Sugar

• Blend (by hand or mixer) the flour, icing sugar and butter to the breadcrumb stage.
• Add the egg to bind it together.
• Chill for an hour or so then roll out, cut into rounds and line a tart tin.
• Fill with a small teaspoon of mincemeat and top with smaller circles or christmassy shapes.
• Bake in a preheated oven (180°C) for 15-20 mins until golden brown.
• Cool on a rack and dust with icing sugar.
(makes at least 20)

Potential variation ideas for the mincemeat...
• Add cranberries, should sharpen it up a bit.
• Add chopped dried apricot and use Amaretto liquer instead of brandy.
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White Chocolate Cheesecake with Berry Sauce...

I first had this cheesecake at some friends' house, and couldn't believe how good it was. So, inevitably I looked up the recipe and have actually changed very little. As it's gluten free in the original I've substituted for normal digestives which I prefer to the chocolatey base. There are loads of potential vaiations to this once you have the basic cheesecake mixture you can just go with whatever you can lay your hands on. This time round I made a simple berry sauce for a topping.

• Melt the butter and crush the biscuits then combine and press into the base of a 20cm tin (ideally with removable base or spring-form). Chill for 2 hours.
• Melt the chocolate and cool slightly.
• Meanwhile beat the cheese, cream and icing sugar in a bowl until well combined.
• Fold in the cooled chocolate thoroughly, then pour over the biscuit base.
• Chill for 2-3 hours to set.

• For the berry topping I heated up 200g mixed berries with about the same amount of sugar until it began to thicken. Cooled and then poured over the set cheesecake.
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