Dear Readers,

This is my favorite festive recipe (other than the rocket fuel mulled wine) and I use it in my Christmas mince pies which I make most years.

The original recipe uses candied mixed peel which is difficult to find in the US but is very abundant down the baking aisle in England.  You can substitute the candied peel for grated peel of an orange and a lemon but you must ensure to remove the white pith.

1 lb light brown sugar or caster (granulated) sugar

1/2 lb golden raisins (sultanas)

1/2 lb raisins

8 oz candied mixed peel

1 lb peeled, cored and cubed apples or pears (you can also use 8 oz dried fruit instead and make up the remaining weight with raisins)

8 oz chopped almonds (walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans also work)

4 oz suet or lard

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp clove

A generous slosh of alcohol such as brandy, whiskey or bourbon

Melt the fat in a large saucepan and add the fruit and spices. Mix the fruit to coat with the melted fat on a low heat. Add the spices and sugar; keep mixing to combine then add the alcohol. Continue stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is sticky.

Transfer into sterilized jars, can if you plan on keeping it for a while using a water bath canning method or pressure canner. I put mine in the refrigerator to allow the spices to mingle before making the pies.