Friday, December 21, 2007

Dad's Favourite, Because it's Christmas

My dad and I have similar tastes for a lot of things. We both love spicy and exotic foods, hearty chili, Beef Stroganoff and "trailer-park" BBQ'ed new potatoes (you'd have to ask him for the recipe, I think he made it up), as well as a slice of apple pie after a Holiday dinner. One of the guaranteed bakery wishlist items for my dad, though, is a major flip of the coin. Every Christmas, I know he craves his all-time favourite mincemeat tarts. Though I enjoy making them for him, and they are always a part of his sweet goodie bundle, I have to say the taste of them to me is simply revolting. Perhaps it's the rather strong hit of brandy in the recipe that bothers me, since I have never enjoyed the taste of hard liquor (or wine for that matter) very much (vodka mixed with juice being the sole exception). Bothered by the name "mincemeat" as a sweet term, or just don't know what it is? Read on for a bit of background of this nas... I mean... acquired taste.

Mincemeat began as a way to preserve food. It was made in large batches and canned. The term gets its name from fine cutting of animal ingredients and fruit, essentially mincing the ingredients needed to make mincemeat.

Most commonly modern mincemeat (which you can find readily in most groceries) has raisins, currants, suet, sugar, and spices like cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Adding brandy or rum, which gives it a rather tart taste, preserves it. My (vegan) version has a little bit of a spicier kick to it, using fresh ginger root instead of ground, nixing any added sugar, and incorporating apricots, prunes, dates and figs all in a whole-wheat crust. Just to throw in another twist, I added another very unorthodox addition: cayenne pepper!

Seeing as these are ever-so-slightly rogueish (maybe in a Jack Sparrow kinda way...), I believe these tarts would make a fine ally in The Mini Pie Revolution. They even have their little fighting hats on, ready to take on the large-scale sweets out there. Why is there a revolution? The Manifesto tells all, and maybe you too will jump on the train to Mini-pie-aville!

These do take a while to prepare, so plan ahead, and make sure you save at least one, just in case my dad's in town!

Mincemeat Tarts with Flair
Makes 12
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
6 dried figs chopped
2 apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup sultana raisins (though if you can find flame raisins, they are even better!)
12 prunes seeded and chopped
1/2 cup brandy
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 tsp fresh-grated ginger
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2-3 tablespoons of iced water

  1. Combine all fruits and spices in a saucepan, cook uncovered over low heat until apple is soft (about 20 minutes), stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  2. Pour into a non-metallic bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 375F.
  4. Combine flours in a large bowl.
  5. Cut in shortening until mixture is like coarse-meal.
  6. Add water to flour mix, stir well.
  7. Turn out of a floured board, knead lightly, cover and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Roll out dough, cut 12 circles that fit the bottoms and sides of muffin tins.
  9. With a smaller cutter (either circle or decorative… your choice!) cut remaining pastry into 12 “hats” for the tarts.
  10. Fit dough “bottoms” into the tins, spoon room-temperature (or thereabouts) mincemeat into each.
  11. Place pastry “hats” on the centre of each tart, leaving some open space around the edges.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 260.1
Total Fat: 5.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 4.1 mg
Total Carbs: 47.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.8 g
Protein: 3.5 g


  1. Great. What did the cayenne pepper taste like?

  2. Great recipe Sarah, Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  3. Thanks for joining the Mini Pie Revolution. Your little darlings look delicious.



Thanks for the feedback!