Blog Mincemeat Tarts and Cookies

Blog Mincemeat Tarts and Cookies

Though some people wrinkle their noses at mincemeat, I'm not ashamed to say that I love it. I particularly like a slice of mincemeat pie with a wedge of buttery cheddar, although whipped cream and vanilla ice cream are welcome, too.

Mincemeat is an old-fashioned mixture, with roots in the medieval practice of preserving meat—usually beef—by combining it with fruit, brandy, and assertive spices of the variety we often reserve for dessert. (If meat with fruit sounds odd to you, just think of pork loin with prunes or duck a l'orange and you'll get the idea.) Today, most commercially prepared mincemeat includes raisins, apples, citrus peel, brandy, and a healthy dose of spices, with cloves often at the fore. Beef, if present, plays a minor supporting role.

Mincemeat pie is a traditional holiday dessert. But because we always have a surfeit of pies at our family's Thanksgiving table (and heads would roll if we omitted someone's favorite apple, pumpkin, or pecan), I rarely get an opportunity to enjoy it. So this year I'm making mincemeat tarts. It's very easy to do with good jarred mincemeat, our basic sugar cookie recipe, and the right cookie cutter—and what could be more appropriate than stuffing some turkey cookies with spiced fruit?

And because this is the season of sharing and generosity (and excess), I've included a second mincemeat cookie recipe, possibly even easier than the first. This recipe uses condensed mincemeat, which you can find in little boxes in the baking aisle alongside the jarred mincemeat. I crumbled the mincemeat into a food processor and gave it a few pulses to break it up and cut the fruit into smaller pieces, then incorporated it right into the dough. When the cookies baked up, the fruit pieces somehow swelled, giving the turkeys a rather unattractive "warty" appearance that I tried unsuccessfully to hide with frosting. But they tasted so good—and actually better without the frosting—I almost liked them better than the tarts. I made a batch of each recipe, and while trying to decide which cookies to photograph and include in today's post, I kept eating the bumpy turkeys, until my decision was made for me.

Do try one or the other—if you've never eaten mincemeat, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

My favorite shapes for Mincemeat Cookies include the Turkey cookie cutter, the Sleigh cookie cutter, and the Frog cookie cutter.