Chestnut & Apple Mince Pies

Pen Vogler's decorative, Dickensian take on the Christmas classic are perfect for a festive party or to include in a gift hamper, if you can bring yourself to share them that is...

This old Scottish recipe brings together the chestnuts from the trees around Joe’s forge and the mincemeat that went into Mrs. Joe’s “handsome mince-pie,” made before Pip stole the leftovers for Magwitch. The chestnut paste lightens the mix and gives a delightful toffee-ish taste.

Christmas with Dickens

For the pastry

2 2/3 cups/350g all-purpose/plain flour

¾ cup/175g cold butter

1 egg yolk

Beaten egg or milk, to glaze


For the mincemeat

1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped (approx. 7 oz/200g)

1 cup/200g cooked chestnuts, finely chopped

6½ tablespoons/80g dark soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons brandy

Zest of an orange or clementine

1½ cups/180g mixed raisins, currants, and golden raisins/sultanas

½ cup/60g candied/mixed peel

1 cup/100g suet



To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces in the flour using a knife, then stir until every piece is coated with flour. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it is no longer visible. Add 2 tablespoons iced water to the egg yolk, and stir this into the flour. Mix with the blade of a knife, adding a little more cold water to make it into a stiff paste. Bring it together into a ball with your hands, touching it as little as possible. Cover with plastic wrap/clingfilm, and chill in the fridge for 20–30 minutes or until ready to use.

To make the mincemeat, cook the apple, chestnuts, and sugar together in a very little water for 15–20 minutes until soft and toffee-ish. Purée them together with the cinnamon, brandy, and orange zest. Adjust the flavourings to taste. Allow to cool, then mix in the dried fruit and suet.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6.

Roll out the pastry to about 1/8inch/ 3mm thick, and cut into rounds of about 4inches/10cm to line muffin trays. Fill each pastry case with mincemeat, packing down the mixture.

Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into rounds of about 3¼ inches/ 8cm to form the lids. Crimp them together and seal with beaten egg or milk. Decorate the tops (or replace the lids) with holly leaves, stars, angels, or bells, cut from the pastry trimmings, then brush the surface with beaten egg or milk.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 15–20 minutes until golden.


For more Dickensian recipes for the festive season, check out Christmas with Dickens by Pen Vogler.