Growing up in Canada, I was exposed to many British traditions around Christmas time including mincemeat pies and tarts. I looked forward to every Christmas when my mom would make these along with all the other wonderful treats. Mincemeat treats were and still are my (second) favorite Holiday treat – tasty, sweet yet tart, with a hint (or more) of brandy. However, many Americans are unsure of mincemeat tarts or don’t care for it. Perhaps, it’s an acquired taste.
The history of mincemeat goes back over 800 years. In fact, this was the original Christmas pie which from the 13th century. Mincemeat was originally some type of meat (usually mutton) preserved with suet and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Over time, dried fruit which had been plumped with brandy was also added. By the 20th century, the meat and suet was eventually dropped and today’s mincemeat typically consists of apples, raisins, currants, various candied citrus peels and brandy.
I like to make my mincemeat tarts (or pies) quite small, actually bite-sized is best. I find it the perfect size to enjoy, pass out at parties or even to give away as presents in a nice little gift box. This really isn’t a recipe per se, as I use a classic British mincemeat found in a jar at some retailers, but still, I wanted to share my ‘recipe’. And, with Christmas time often overloaded enough with tons of cooking and baking, some shortcuts like using skipping making mincemeat from scratch work for me. 😉
Robertson’s doesn’t contain any brandy, so to add a little nostalgia, err I mean authenticity, I let the mincemeat sit overnight with some brandy added in. I could say it brings out the flavor, but … (hiccup)
Makes 18-24 mini tarts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into pats
- 2-3 Tbsp ice cold water
- 1 cup Robertson’s mincemeat
- 2 Tbsp brandy
- The day before you’re planning on making the tarts, mix Robertson’s mincemeat with the brandy. Refrigerate overnight.
- Blend flour and salt in a large bowl. Spread the chilled pats of butter around on top of the flour and cut into it using a pastry blender or fork (fingers tend to warm the butter too much). Stir in ice water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together and becomes clumpy. If needed, add a bit more ice water (if it’s too crumbly) or flour (too soft).
- Using parchment paper, fold the dough three or four times over itself, then shape into a ball. Flatten to about 1/2″ thick and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out the chilled pie crust out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8″ thin or slightly thinner. When using a mini tart pan, you want the crust as thin as possible, yet still able to hold the mincemeat filling.
- Using a round or fluted cookie cutter, cut the pie crust into circles roughly a 1/4″ larger than the cups. Gently press the circles down into the cups and top each with a dollop (about 1 teaspoon) of mincemeat filling.
- You can also use extra pie crust and shaped cookie cutters to make stars or other shapes for cooking on top of the tartlets.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and remove tartlets from pan and let cool.