“I love all mince pies at Christmas. This is my nod to the more traditional variety, but I think these are just a bit more interesting than usual, as the addition of delicious, sweet squash really lightens the classic mix. ”
Roast the whole squash for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Once cool enough to handle, halve and deseed, then scoop half the soft flesh into a bowl to cool (you only need half here, so keep the remaining roasted squash for another recipe).
Meanwhile, to make the pastry, sieve the flour and icing sugar on to a clean work surface. Cube the cold butter, then use your thumbs and fingertips to rub it into the flour and sugar until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture.
Beat 2 eggs and the milk and add to the mixture, then gently work it together until you have a ball of dough – don’t work it too much at this stage as you want to keep it crumbly and short.
Flour your clean work surface, pat the dough into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for at least half an hour.
Lightly grease two 12-hole muffin tins with butter.
Add the mincemeat and maple syrup to the bowl of cooled squash, then chop and add the almonds and mix together.
Roll out the pastry on a clean flour-dusted surface to 3mm thick. Use a 10cm pastry cutter to cut out 24 circles of dough, then ease and press them into your prepared tins.
Equally divide up the filling, then cut out 8cm circles from your leftover pastry to top the pies, crimping the edges together as you go. You can also add pastry shapes to decorate, depending on how many offcuts you have.
Brush the tops of the pies with beaten egg, also using it to help you stick on any pastry decorations you’ve cut out.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until golden. Leave to cool and firm up for 10 minutes in the tins, then carefully transfer to a wire cooling rack.
Dust lightly from a height with icing sugar and serve. Lovely hot with a drizzle of custard, or warm or cold with a cup of tea. You can also box them up for another day, and they’re great as a gift, too.