Week 17: I made mincemeat. Just mincemeat. Crust comes later.

Normally, at this time of year I’d be making my traditional marzipan fruit cake. It’s a Nigella recipe, from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and I lurve it for all of its squidgy booziness. It’s reminiscent of this cake which also looks delightfully tempting (and so pretty with those toasty almonds on top). But since this year is the year of pie, I had to look for another equally festive and fruity baking option. I admit that I considered making pie and fruit cake, but that madness did not last long. Good thing too, because there has not been so much running these days. Unless you count running from store to store with my Xmas list.

Have you made mincemeat? Do you even like mincemeat? I think it’s one of those polarizing foods. It’s hard to grow up with a British parent and not be on the pro-mincemeat team. This is the first time I’ve made it, and I think I chose well in the recipe department. I also made my own candied peel which is something I usually do at this time of year. It’s not hard, and it is infinitely better than the waxy stuff you often find in the store. I always use Martha’s recipe for my peel, so I guess it’s no surprise that I also turned to her for a mincemeat recipe. This one has no suet (veggie version or otherwise) which means it’s good for anyone who finds the idea of suet a little yucky. Making mincemeat will fill your home with the cozy scent of spices and fruit and booze, a.k.a. Christmas. I’m planning on turning the filling into tarts this weekend. Here’s the recipe…


1 1/2 cups water
2 medium baking apples, such as Rome or Cortland, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 ounces dried apricots, preferably California, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/3 cup)
3 ounces dried figs, preferably Calimyrna, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/3 cup)
3 ounces flame raisins (3/4 cup)
3 1/2 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/3 cup)
3 1/2 ounces dried currants (3/4 cup)
3/4 ounce candied lemon peel, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/4 cup)
3/4 ounce candied orange peel, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
3/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
4 teaspoons fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cardamom
Generous 1/4 cup Cognac

Combine everything except the Cognac in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring often, then cover and reduce heat. Cook, stirring now and then, until dried fruits are soft and beginning to break down, about 30 minutes. Stir in Cognac, and cook for 5 minutes more. Let cool. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to make tarts!

Here’s a holiday tune to hum along to:

(Pretty photo from stock.xchng)


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