Mince tarts are, hands-down, my favorite Christmastime treat. (Or one of them, anyway. Please don’t make me choose.) Mincemeat more than any other festive food is reserved exclusively for the holidays — despite its utter deliciousness, there is no other time of year it would occur to me to buy a jar and bake a pie. Or to make it from scratch — of course mincemeat doesn’t only come in a jar — it’s simple to stir up on the stovetop using fresh and dried fruit, sugar and spices — there’s no need to add suet (beef fat), which is traditional, but totally unnecessary. Bonus: it makes your house smell better than the best potpourri.
Of course my pal Aimée Wimbush-Bourque, editor and writer over at Simple Bites, is as brilliant a baker as anyone I know. Of course she makes mincemeat from scratch. Of course she managed to get gussied up and put together a how-to video to share with the masses how simple it is to do it — she even suggests giving it away, packed in glass jars. If you thought homemade jam was impressive, try bringing homemade mincemeat to a party.
Aimée writes from the gastronomical hotspot of Montréal, Canada, where she lives with her husband Danny and sons, Noah and Mateo. Check out her recipe for Canadian-style mincemeat — it may just inspire a new holiday tradition.
Of course mincemeat isn’t only for tarts — I like stirring a spoonful into my bowl of oatmeal on cold December mornings, using it in place of jam in thumbprint cookies, and using it as a filling for cinnamon rolls. If you love mincemeat but don’t want to bother with pastry, try using it as a filling in a batch of date squares.
pastry for a two-crust pie
2-4 cups all-fruit mincemeat
icing sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Choose a muffin tin to use — it could be a standard muffin tin or a mini muffin tin. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out 1/8″ thick. Cut into appropriately sized circles using a cookie cutter or glass rim, and fill almost full with mincemeat.
Roll out the pastry scraps and cut into stars or other shapes, and set them on the tops of the tarts. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with icing sugar.
Photo credit: istockphoto/mlisager