Gluten free mince pies with gingerbread crust

This might be a slightly more controversial recipe, depending on your stance on hybrids. Personally? I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to combine two good things, and make them great (again) 

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Once you've had a few blogging Christmas', it becomes increasingly difficult to come up with something traditionally festive, yet novel in perhaps an untraditional way. How many times can the humble shortbread or minced pie be reworked? Well, a few times, considering I shared a shortbread recipe last week, and I'm currently on the minced pie bandwagon, but next year's Christmas might be a struggle.

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Anyway, I tried making these minced pies as a minced pie, because hey! novel! But as pretty and novel as it was, it's hard to grab a slice on Christmas day and disappear with it half in your pocket, scoffing it in the bathroom for fear of judging eyes. Much easier to do with a portable mini pie, speaking from years of personal experience. 

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I then tried making them with a hazelnut crust, as another way of being inventive. They were nice, even Mum said so, but when I sat down and had the idea for the gingerbread crusted ones, nice wasn't good enough. I love gingerbread, I love minced pies, and I loved the idea of combining them to make a super powered Christmas dessert. 

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As it turns out, my gingerbread recipe from years gone by made the perfect tart base - easy to remove, firm enough to hold the fruit mince without getting soggy, all whilst adding interest to the overall pie without detracting from the fruit mince. I think hybrids might be my new thing.

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INGREDIENTS - makes 9+ medium minced pies

FOR THE MINCE:
2 Pink Lady apples, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped finely
Juice of 2 oranges, zest of 1/2 an orange (approx 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice

FOR THE GINGERBREAD
2 1/2 cups almond meal
50g butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
grating of fresh nutmeg (easily peasily found at the supermarket, but ground will suffice)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg
pinch of table salt
1 tablespoon potato flour, plus extra for rolling out

METHOD
1. In a medium to large saucepan, add all the ingredients for the fruit mince, and turn to a medium heat. Once the mixture is bubbling away, turn it to a low-medium heat, and pop a lid on. Check on it every 5 or so minutes for about 15 minutes, or until the apple has softened and the mixture has a syrupy base to it. 
2. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees Celsius. 
3. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the gingerbread, and keep mixing until a pliable, non sticky dough forms. You can add an extra tablespoon of potato flour or two if the dough is sticky. 
4. Using a silicon muffin tin, grease the holes with butter and set aside. Take a small blob of gingerbread at a time, and mould it into the tin, coming right up the edges of the muffin hole. (side note: muffin hole sounds somewhat unappealing, I apologise, but I cannot think of a butter term) 
5. By now the fruit mince should be done - take it off the heat and set aside to cool. Poke a few forky holes in the bottom of each gingerbread pie case, to allow room for air to escape. Pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. You'll either need to use two silicon muffin trays (I've only ever seen six hole ones) reuse one tray, or use a non silicon muffin pan (I cannot vouch for the simplicity of their removal, however)
6. While the tart bases are cooking, roll out the remaining gingerbread dough, and, using plenty of potato flour, cut out 10 stars for the tops of the pies. You may get a few extra, but considering it's just gingerbread, I think you know what you can do with the remaining. Have more gingerbread. 
7. Once the tart bases have proved, remove them from the oven, and allow to cool for a little bit. Divide the fruit mince between the tarts, and put a gingerbread star on top of each. Spray on a little olive oil or a bit of melted butter, and return the pies to the oven for another 10 or so minutes, to cook the gingerbread star.
8. Once the pies are done (I put mine under the grill for a few minutes after to give them some extra colour) remove them from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the silicon tin. 

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