When you read this post, it will become quite clear that I have never made mincemeat pies before. In fact there were a lot of “firsts” when it came to my experience of making these over the weekend. Although they might be called “instant” there was nothing easy or fast about them.
Mincemeat pies are one of Reg’s favourite holiday desserts and I wanted to see if making them from scratch would be better than buying them from the store. Those always fail to impress me so I was determined to make… these no matter what.
CANDIED ORANGE AND LEMON PEEL
I noticed that almost all mincemeat calls for candied citrus peels so I referenced Martha Stewart’s recipe to make my own. I made these two days ahead of time.
I peeled off the skin of two oranges and two lemons and removed the white pith with a sharp knife. I put the strips in a saucepan and covered with cold water. I boiled and then drained them three times.
I brought two cups of water and two cups of sugar to a boil, simmered for five minutes. I added the strips and simmered for 1 hour. Then I let the strips cool in the syrup.
[yumprint-recipe id=’133′]MAKING THE DOUGH
I wanted to make Rachel Allen’s recipe for mince pies since I figured hers would be the most authentic and traditional. To make the dough, put 200 grams of flour and 1 tbsp of icing sugar in a food processor. I also added a pinch of salt and pulsed together.
Then I added 100 grams of chilled and cubed unsalted butter and pulsed together a little. I added 1 beaten medium egg and decided to also add 1 tbsp of vinegar which I find helps make pastry flaky. The dough was way too dry so I added some cold water.
This is what you want to see. A dough that is moist enough to come together that does not leave crumbs on the bottom. I shaped it into a disk, covered with plastic wrap and chilled for at least 30 minutes.
MAKING THE FILLING
I started peeling, coring and chopping up two apples for Rachel’s mince pie filling when I noticed at the end of her recipe it said, “Leave to mature, if possible for at least 2 weeks before using.”
OH CRAP!!!! BLOODY HELL!!!
Yes, I was making this the day of Thanksgiving. I had zero idea that the filling had to mature, damn it! OK, time to get creative…
I found one recipe for instant mincemeat and decided to use the idea behind it but many of my own ingredients. I was totally going off the foodie map at this point.
In a pot I gently warmed 170 ml of brandy and 200 grams of brown sugar. I added around 2 cups of fresh cranberries and cooked gently for a few minutes. I also proceeded to make the cooked apples by adding a tbsp of water to the pot and simmering it gently on the stove covered for 10 minutes.
I added 140 grams of dried cranberries, 100 grams of dried currants and 100 grams of raisins.
I juiced and zested 3 small tangerines, adding it to the pot with 1 tsp of grated fresh ginger.
I was supposed to add “2 tsp of mixed spice” which I personally never see at the store. Thankfully I had already looked this one up.
There are many different versions and none of them appealed to me so I made my own: 1 tsp allspice, 4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 nutmeg and 1/2 tsp ginger. I added 2 tsp of this mixture to the pot, followed by the cooked apples. After simmering and thickening for 15 minutes I mashed up the cranberries with a potato masher and added 1 tsp of vanilla.
Once cooled off I chopped around 2 tbsp of the chopped peel and folded it into the filling.
I went back to Rachel’s recipe for mince pies since I was using her dough. I rolled it out quite thinly and wanted to take their advice and make the muffin tin version. Then I realized, if I did, I would not have enough dough to make more than a couple. I guess my tins are a lot bigger than hers?!
I rolled the dough out even thinner, used a smaller cutter and lined a greased and floured mini muffin tin instead. I had just enough dough to make 16 mini muffins and top them 16 pastry hearts.
I filled the base with the mincemeat, topped with a heart and brushed with an egg wash. I baked them in a preheated 400F oven for 13 minutes, until they were golden brown. I let them cool for 10 minutes but then removed them from the tin, I did not want them getting stuck in there!
It took me five recipes to develop these but at least they were worth it. Reg said they did not taste anything like store-bought mince pies. That they were fresher and tasted healthier to him. I think he liked them but it would have been nice for them to be more like the ones he was used to.
I also have a ton of mincemeat leftover! I might actually let this cure together for a while and then freeze it for Christmas. Because there is no way I am making this again for a long, long time. Very tasty but just a tad too stressful for Thanksgiving! Of course it is all my fault. I am hopeless at reading recipes in full.
Hope all my Canadian readers had a great Thanksgiving and now my American readers, if you dare, can make this for your upcoming Thanksgiving!