Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Lightly grease a 12-hole bun tin or muffin pan.
Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the almonds, sugar, almond essence, orange zest, egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water. Mix to form a firm dough. Knead briefly on a floured work surface, then wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll out thinly, and stamp out 12 rounds, about 7.5cm/3in, using a pastry cutter. Use the pastry to line the holes in the bun tin. Spoon in the mincemeat to come two-thirds of the way up each hole. Use the remaining pastry to cut into seasonal shapes – such as holly leaves or Christmas trees – and place on top of the mincemeat.
Bake for 20 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Serve warm with cream or brandy butter.