A lovely festive blog for you from Pixie Hall Cakes for homemade mincemeat and mincemeat cookies.
I’ve got a bit of a treat for you this month. I’ve got two recipes for you and they are both really easy but totally tasty!
Having covered the much loved Christmas cake last year, it was decided that a mincemeat recipe would be appropriate for this year’s festive offering. It’s a real love it or hate it thing and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I love it! I’ll also give you a recipe for mincemeat cookies in case you’re sick of mince pies!
I’ve been making my own mincemeat for years now and there’s really nothing quite like it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with shop bought but it just doesn’t compare to the real deal. Also, you can customise your homemade batch with whatever fruit you like so it’s guaranteed to be tasty.
Mincemeat is so traditional at this time of year. It’s full to the brim with all the dried fruit, spices and booze that we associate with Christmas. It’s fairly well known that in the 15th-17th centuries, mincemeat recipes contained actual meat along with the fruit. While this may not be to today’s tastes, it reminds me of the flavours found in Moroccan tagines. It was the Victorians who turned sweet, fruity mincemeat (along with many other things) into a yuletide treat. I’m really glad they did!
My mincemeat recipe involves cooking the mixture. This isn’t necessarily traditional but it means that the flavours really meld together and the mixture can be used immediately without the need to let the mincemeat mature. Another benefit of this is that the house will smell amazing while it’s cooking and is guaranteed to put you in the festive mood! You have a choice in the way your cook it. I use a slow cooker because it’s easy and I’m lazy. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook it on low in the oven. It works perfectly either way. Remember you can swap and adjust the fruits you use but make sure you keep the total weight the same.
On to the recipes
450g cooking apples
115g candied peel
115g glacé cherries
115g dried apricots
115g blanched almonds
150ml rum (or brandy, sloe gin or any other spirit you fancy)
225g dried cranberries
225g brown sugar
225g suet (I used vegetable suet)
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground allspice
1tsp ground cinnamon
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
Peel, core and chop the apples, cherries, apricots and almonds. Place into the slow cooker or into a large, heatproof casserole dish.
Put 75ml of the rum and the rest of the ingredients into the pot and stir until thoroughly mixed.
If you’re using a slow cooker, cover the mixture and cook on high for 1 hour. Stir the mixture well then recover and reduce the temperature to low. Cook for a further 2 hours stirring halfway through to prevent the mincemeat from sticking to the sides of the cooker.
If you’re using the oven, preheat it to 110C. Cover your dish loosely with foil and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Once cooked, stir the rest of the rum into the mixture and leave the mixture to cool completely stirring occasionally. Once cool, spoon into sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
These are a quick and easy treat and will be popular with grownups and kids alike! This recipe makes around 12 cookies but scales up easily to make more should you wish to.
125g butter, melted
100g dark brown sugar
75g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
½ tsp baking soda
12 tsp mincemeat
Preheat the oven to 180C and line 3 trays with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together until smooth.
Stir in the flour, salt and baking soda and mix until fully incorporated.
Take a walnut ball sized pice of dough (I like to use a medium ice cream scoop for this so the cookies are all the same size) and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball in the palm of your hand and place a teaspoon of mincemeat into the centre. Carefully mould the dough around the filling and seal tightly. Shape the dough into a ball again and place on the tray before very slightly flattening it. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes until puffed and golden. Allow to cool thoroughly before eating – mincemeat gets hot!
Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.
Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography