Vegan Mince Pies

It's that time of the year again, Christmas! These mini mince pies I'm sharing with you today were tested a few times in november and finally I found some "free" time between all the gift and food shopping for the holidays (...and I'm not done yet). Wether you are a fan or not of Christmas I highly recommend you to try these little pies and your day will immediately improve, trust me, they are delicious! A juicy and super flavorful filling all wrapped up in a homemade coconut oil crust that is flaky and yummy, once you get the hang of pie crust-making you'll never buy pre-made crusts again. They are so much better and (most of the times) so much healthier, I know we are all running short on time these days but if you plan ahead this recipe is easier than it seems. Oh and by the way, these mince pies are completely vegan and you won't find any shortening or margarine in the ingredient list.
Picture yourself all cozied up on your couch, watching some christmas movie or your favorite tv show, and a plate with a couple of mince pies. Ain't this a perfect plan for a low-key afternoon at home befor the family gatherings and the craziness begins?! Add a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream or thick coconut yogurt for a more pleasant experience.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Vegan Mince Pies
(yield: 15 mini mince pies)

- For the crust:
1 1/4 cups spelt flour.
1 tablespoon coconut sugar.
1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt.
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon coconut oil, semisolid.
3 tablespoons water.*
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
- For the mincemeat:
1/4 cup sultana raisins.
1/4 cup dried blueberries.
1/4 cup Deglet Noor dates, chopped into small pieces.
1/4 cup dried prunes, chopped into small pieces.
1/4 cup orange juice.
1/2 cup apple, shredded.
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Zest of one lemon.
1/4 cup blanched almonds.
1 tablespoon coconut sugar.
1 tablespoon brandy, optional.
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.
1/2 teaspoon ginger.
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
1/4 teaspoon cloves.

* See 'Notes' below.

- Add 2 more tablespoons of water to the dough if it looks a bit dry, slightly hard or not pliable enough.
- Chop the dates and prunes, then measure them.
- I recommend to prepare the pie dough the night before and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Let it thaw at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling out.

- For the crust:
In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour, coconut sugar and salt, using a wire whisk until combined. Add the coconut oil by the tablespoonful, cutting it into the flour with your fingers until the mixture looks pebbly.
In a small bowl mix together 3 tablespoons of water with the apple cider vinegar. Gradually pour the water mixture into the flour mixture, working the dough with your hands until the dough holds together to form a soft ball. Knead the dough until it has a pliable consistency, you may need to add up to 2 more tablespoons of water if the dough seems a bit dry or hard.
Roll the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. If you are making the dough the day before, make sure you let it thaw at room temperature until it's soft and pliable again, around 10-15 minutes.
- For the mincemeat:
In a medium bowl stir together the raisins, blueberries, chopped dates, chopped prunes and orange juice. Let it rest while you prepare the rest of the components of the mincemeat, or alternatively you can make this mixture the day before and let it rest overnight.
Chop the almonds into small bits and mix with the shredded apple, lemon zest and lemon juice.
In a large mixing bowl stir together the dried fruit mixture with the apple mixture, mixing with a silicone spatula or a large wooden spoon. Add in the coconut sugar, spices and brandy (if using), and mix well until thoroughly incorporated.
- Assembling:
Preheat oven to 210 ºC (410 ºF) and lightly grease a mini-cupcake with coconut oil
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, the rolled dough should be around 0.5 cm thick. Cut around 15 circles using cookie cutters, they should be slightly bigger than the cavities of the cupcake tin. Carefully transfer each base into the mini-cupcake tin and shape each pastry circle to the shape of the cup.
Fill each cup with the mincemeat, cut out 15 more tops using a slightly smaller cutter than the one you used for the base or your favorite star-shaped cookie cutter. Cover with the top crusts and/or stars, and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.
Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let it cool for 10 minutes approximately, then remove mini pies from the pan and serve straight away or let them cool completely if your are cooking in advance.
Decorate each mince pie with sifted coconut flour or coconut milk powder.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.