So what the heck is a mince tart? Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of mincemeat. Mince is merely mincemeat without the meat – thus “mince”! A sweet mixture of liquored and spiced minced fruit (apples, raisins, sultanas, currents, and candied orange peel), baked in a buttery crust. And a mince pie? (I’ll leave you to figure that one out on your own!)
It all started when Jim, this years’ Thanksgiving dinner host, asked me to bring dessert. No problem. I knew that meant French Apple Pie (recipe on site) and Pumpkin Pie Bars (also on site). Then he mentioned how much he loved mincemeat pie. (I can take a hint when I hear one!) So of course, I added mincemeat to the lineup.
At first I was tempted to buy mincemeat, but the good stuff is expensive. For example: The lowest price I could find for a decent mincemeat – Cross and Blackwell Rum and Brandy Mincemeat, 29-oz. jar was $24.99 from ebay. At least it wasn’t $25.00, that would have been really too prohibitively expensive. (And yes I do know that $24.99 is really $25.00! But most retailers still must think that consumers don’t know the difference, because they continue to waste printer space and ink by not labeling a product $25, instead of $24.99!) Sorry for that little rant, but it bugs me that retailers think the general public is completely lacking intelligence! And grocery stores. What’s with “sales” prices on an item liked canned baked beans advertised as “3 for $6”? Why not just $2 a can? Because how many ever you buy, the price is still going to be $2 a can. You don’t have to buy 3 cans to get the “sale” price. (Sorry, I’ll stop now!) Back to this recipe.
I had made homemade mince before, but it had been almost 15 years. So I looked up the recipe in my 2nd cookbook, made a couple of changes I felt were necessary (I’ve learned a thing or two about baking in the past 15 years), and came up with this recipe. And oh my! It turned out to be a really good mince recipe.
Now I know some of you have memories of mincemeat pies that weren’t terribly good. But I feel duty bound to encourage you to put your unpleasant memories behind you and give this mince a try. First of all, no critters were harmed in the making of this mince. Mince is simply, as stated above, a sweet mixture of liquored and spiced minced fruit (apples, raisins, sultanas, currents, and candied orange peel). There is nothing in mince not to like. And when you add a dollop of Bourbon Caramel Whipped Cream – it’s a holiday in your mouth.
So start a new tradition at your home this year. But don’t wait. Make the mince now so that it will be ready for Christmas. Like nice people, mince only improves with age.
- 1½ c. raisins
- 1½ c. golden raisins (sultanas)
- 1½ c. dried currents
- 2/3 c. + ¼ c. bourbon or brandy, divided
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and finely minced
- 8-oz. container candied orange peel
- ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ c. brown sugar
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground mace
- ¼ tsp. ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- tart or pie pastry (recipes below)
- coarse or granulated sugar
This recipe makes enough mince for 2 10-inch tarts or 2 8-inch pies
Place the raisins, sultanas, and dried currents in a small saucepan. Add the 2/3 cup bourbon, bring just to a boil, stir to coat all the fruit, remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, combine the apples, candied orange peel, butter, brown sugar, spices, and the zest and juice of the lemon and orange, in a large ovenproof dish. When the raisins and currents are cool, stir into the apple mixture.
Cover the dish and place in a cool place overnight. (The remaining bourbon gets added the next day.)
The following day, place the ovenproof dish in a cold oven, bring the temperature to 200 degrees, and bake for three hours, stirring every hour or so. Remove from oven, let cool completely, and stir in the remaining fourth cup bourbon.
Store covered in your refrigerator until ready to use. (Best if left to mellow at least 4 weeks, but if you are like me, the mince only gets to age for about a week. It’s still good, so no worries.)
MINCE TARTS (makes enough pastry for 2 10-inch tart pans)
- 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ¾ c. (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
- 5 to 6 T. ice water, enough to make a cohesive dough
Combine the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Pulse mixture until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. With the motor running, drizzle in the ice water, stopping when the dough comes together.
Divide the dough in half, and shape each piece into a flattened round disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to prepare the tarts, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Let warm for 15 minutes or so, till it’s “rollable.”
If using 10-inch tart pans, roll each disk into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8″ thick. (Remember, always roll the dough from the middle outward.) Using a plate or “whatever”, cut the dough into a 12-inch circle. (Save the scraps to use for decorative cutouts for the top of the tart.)
Note: If you are making tarts smaller or larger than 10 inches, measure the bottom of the tart pan plus double the height of the sides. Roll your pastry dough to that circumference.
Gently nestle the dough circles into the tart pans. The pastry on the sides should be flush with the top of the tart pans. (Try not to stretch the pastry too much.) Cut shapes from the dough scraps: set aside.
Prick the bottom of each pastry several times with a fork. This helps to prevent puffing while the tart bakes.
Spoon mince into the pasty lined tart pans until it reaches the top of the crust. Gently press down as you fill the tart. Top with cut out decorative tart crust pieces liberally sprinkled with coarse or granulated sugar.
Bake the tarts in a preheated 400 degree oven for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Half way through the baking time, cover the mince with a round piece of aluminum foil to prevent the mince from browning too much and becoming dry.
Remove the tarts from the oven and cool in the pan. When ready to serve, gently push up on the removable bottom of the tart pan and cut into very narrow wedges. Serve at room temperature with Bourbon Caramel Whipped Cream (recipe below) or topping of choice.
- 6 T. ice cold water
- 3 c. flour
- 1½ tsp. salt
- heaping 1 c. Crisco
Step 1 – Pour cold water into a small bowl.
Step 2 – Measure flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
Step 3 – Take ½ cup of the flour back out of the mixing bowl and stir it into the water. Make a paste. Set aside.
Step 4 – Add the heaping cup of Crisco to the flour and salt mixture. Mix together. (I use my KitchenAid mixer.)
Step 5 – Add the water/flour paste to the flour/shortening bowl and mix just until blended. Do not over-mix. Divide dough in half. Roll out dough and place in 8-inch pie pans. Cut off excess dough and save for pie crust cut outs to decorative the top of the pie.
When ready to bake pies, pour mince into the pastry lined pans. Top with cut out decorative pie crust pieces liberally sprinkled with coarse or granulated sugar.
Cover edges of pie crust with 1½-inch strips of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove foil last 5 minutes of baking time.
Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is a very light brown and the filling is starting to bubble. Half way through the baking time, cover the mince with a round piece of aluminum foil to prevent the mince from browning too much and becoming dry.
Serve warm or at room temperature with Bourbon Caramel Whipped Cream (recipe below) or topping of choice.
Helpful hint: Use a pastry cloth to roll out your pie crust. It really makes a difference. You can find pastry cloths in almost any kitchen wares shop. Well worth the $10 or so.
BOURBON CARAMEL WHIPPED CREAM
- ¼ c. unsalted butter
- ½ c. brown sugar
- tiny pinch salt
- ¼ c. + 2 c. heavy whipping cream
- 2 T. good bourbon
Whisk butter, brown sugar, and salt together over medium heat in a small heavy saucepan until brown sugar has dissolved completely. (This happens after the mixture comes to a boil and is allowed to burble for a couple of minutes or until it turns kind of shiny. Continue whisking the whole time the mixture is on the heat.) Remove from heat and gently whisk in the quarter cup heavy cream and bourbon. Allow caramel to come to room temperature and then refrigerate.
Beat the remaining 2 cups of whipping cream to stiff peaks. Add the cold caramel sauce and whip just until well blended. (The caramel sauce and whipped cream can be combined up to a few hours before serving.)