I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s Christmas specials on the Food Network and have thoroughly enjoyed them. In one of the episodes he whipped up these puff pastry pinwheels in a phyllo shell that was stuffed with mincemeat and they looked so delicious I had to try them for myself. Only after I borrowed all the muffin pans from my neighbor, I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to thaw an entire box of phyllo for only five or six sheets and did something completely different.
I hated mincemeat as a kid but have recently fallen in love with it. I also introduced my hesitant wife to the idea and she loves it now also. I think it’s something about the beef suet that turns people off, but there are so many other competing flavors among the various dried fruits, candied zests, alcohols, and numerous spices that you won’t even notice. Many recipes omit it nowadays anyway. These mincemeat strudels are going to be a perfect breakfast snack for Christmas morning.
- 1 pound (454g) puff pastry, thawed
- 500ml jar of good mincemeat
- zest of 1 clementine or orange
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1.5 ounces Brandy
- 12 dried figs, chopped
- 1/2 cup roasted chestnuts or hazelnuts
- 1 egg mixed with 2 tablespoons milk
- 3-4 tablespoons coarse raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.
Roll out the puff pastry into two 12×12″ squares. If it’s pre-rolled pastry, even better. Cut the squares in half, slightly disproportionally, to yield two 5×12″ (bottom) and two 7×12″ (top) rectangles. Place the bottom rectangles on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Combine the mincemeat, zests, Brandy, figs, and chestnuts and spread evenly over the smaller rectangles, leaving approximately a 1/2″ border on all sides. You may not necessarily use all of the mincemeat, but just stir the remnants into your oatmeal in the morning or something. It’s delicious.
Lightly fold the larger rectangles in half lengthwise. With a knife, make interval slices in the seam so that when you unfold the rectangle again, it resembles the pattern pictured. You are making a decorative top that also acts as vents for steam to escape from. Layer the tops carefully over the bottom layers and press evenly along the sides to form a seal.
Brush the tops of the pastry with the egg wash and evenly distribute the coarse sugar. Bake until a deep golden brown, about 20-25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325 to bake an additional 10-15 minutes to ensure the bottom is fully crisp. Allow cooling before slicing.
Sometimes puff pastry will get too warm and “sweat” or the butter will ooze out a little. Simply transfer it to the freezer for no more than a minute or two and it will be ready to work with again. Feel free to improvise flavor additions to the mincemeat to make it your own, virtually any nuts, dried fruit or alcohol will be a welcome addition!