Aren't mincemeat tarts just one of the best Christmas pastries? We love the rich, spiced mincemeat, gloriously flaky pastry, and the dusting of icing sugar on top.
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Mincemeat tarts, a British treat are made with mincemeat, a pastry filling made with four main components: dried fruit, candied peel, spices, and liquids. You can make your own with the following ingredients if you want to customize it. You can use it right away, or if time permits, let it age for a few days or up to one week.
- Dried Fruit: any combination of dark and golden raisins, currants, prunes, or dates will be delicious.
- Candied Peel: orange and lemon peel are the most popular. You can also add a bit of citron peel.
- Spices: nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves are good choices.
- Liquids: a little bit of lemon or orange juice adds flavor, while ¼ cup of brandy preserves the mixture. For an alcohol-free version, use apple cider and vanilla extract, then store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
They have been enjoyed in the UK for hundreds of years, and are now popular throughout the world during the Christmas season.
According to history, back in the 1600s, Oliver Cromwell banned many festive foods, including mincemeat pies to put an end to gluttony. These days, don’t worry; you definitely won’t get arrested for eating a mince pie!
Curious about what goes into mincemeat tarts? Let's take a look at the key ingredients in this recipe.
- Mincemeat: We like to start with a good brand of store-bought mincemeat (like Crosse & Blackwell), as we usually don't have time to prepare it from scratch.
- Fresh Fruit: Finely diced mandarin oranges and Granny Smith apple add a burst of juicy freshness to the mincemeat, as well as provide a different texture.
- Dried Fruit: Adding a generous amount of dried apricots adds another flavor to the mix and a different texture. Feel free to swap this out for another dried fruit of your preference.
- Pastry: We like to use our homemade flaky shortcrust pastry, as it holds up well and doesn't fall apart as much as sweet pastry does.
How to Make
You'll need a large jar of store-bought or of homemade mincemeat. If you're using store-bought, we recommend adding some fresh diced apples, diced clementine oranges, diced dried apricots, lemon and orange zest, and some freshly grated nutmeg for additional flavor. Adding extra fruit also stretches the filling.
- Place all the fresh fruit, zest, nutmeg, and mincemeat in a bowl. Stir gently until well combined, then set aside as you roll out the pastry.
- Roll out the pastry thinly on a floured surface. Use a 3 ½-inch cutter to cut out circles of pastry, then place them in a 12-hole muffin pan.
3. Fill each tart with two or three spoonfuls of filling.
4. Top each tart with a pastry star, pressing it down on the edges to seal, and a sprinkle of caster sugar.
5. Bake the tarts at 400°F for about 20 minutes, until the mincemeat is gently bubbling and the pastry is a light golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack, then enjoy.
6. Serve at room temperature or warm with brandy butter.
These individual pies are made with a pastry crust filled with mincemeat, a mixture of dried fruit, spices, a little bit of brandy, and sometimes suet. The tart is topped with pastry and dusted with sugar.
These treats have their origins in medieval times when the Crusaders brought back the concept of mixing fruit, meat, and aromatic spices together. The English started serving mincemeat in large oblong pies to mark the Christmas season. Over the years, the pies have changed to round, individual-sized pies, and the filling rarely contains meat.
Traditionally these pies did contain bits of minced meat and were made with suet, a type of solid animal fat. These days, many brands of store-bought mincemeat do not contain meat that can be easily identified by a glance at the label.
The filling is typically aged to give it a rich, deep flavor from the sweet dried fruit, aromatic spices, and brandy. Mince pies are not overly sweet, but have a wonderful fruity taste.
- Leftovers: Store them sealed in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Freezer: Seal them inside of a zip-top freezer bag and press out the extra air. Freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, place them at room temperature or microwave individual ones for 30 seconds apiece.
- Add fresh fruit to store-bought mincemeat to improve the flavor and texture or make your own from scratch.
- Use homemade pastry for the best taste.
- Roll the pastry a little less than ⅛ inch thick. If the pastry is too thin, the tarts will fall apart; if it is too thick, the tarts will be dry and unappetizing.
- Be careful not to overfill the tarts, or they will bubble over in the oven. Fill each tart ¾ full.
- If your mince pies have pastry tops, sprinkle them with caster sugar before baking and with icing sugar after they've cooled. This makes them look pretty and adds an extra touch of sweetness.
More Pies and Tarts You'll Love
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- 2 ⅔ cups store-bought mincemeat
- 1 tablespoon clementine zest
- 1 ½ cups clementines, diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup dried apricots, diced
- 1 ½ cups Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 pound 14 ounces flaky shortcrust pastry
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Pour the store-bought mincemeat into a large mixing bowl. Add the diced apple, dried apricot, diced orange segments, lemon and orange zest, and the nutmeg. Gently stir until well mixed.
- Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured surface, then use a circular 3 ½-inch cutter to cut out pastry circles. Line two muffin pans with the pastry, making sure to get it into the corners of the pan.
- Re-roll the scraps and cut out 15 stars with a cookie cutter to act as a lid for half of the tarts. Leave the other half plain, if desired.
- Fill each tart ¾ full. Top each one with a pastry star, pressing down its corners to seal it to the tart. Sprinkle the stars with caster sugar.
- Bake the tarts for about 20 minutes at 400 F. The filling should be bubbling, and the pastry should be a pale golden brown around the edges. If you're re-using a muffin pan to bake more tarts, let it cool before putting the next batch of pastry in the pan.
- Let the tarts cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the edges of each tart and carefully pop them out of the pan.
- Dust the star tarts with icing sugar, then serve.
- Want the best flavor? Add fresh oranges and apple to store-bought mincemeat, or make your own.
- Roll the pastry a little less than ⅛ inch thick. If the pastry is too thin, the tarts will fall apart; if it is too thick, the tarts will be dry.
- Fill each one ¾ full to prevent overflowing in the oven.
- Putting pastry on top of the tarts? Sprinkle with caster sugar before baking and with icing sugar after they've cooled to add a touch of sweetness.
- Freeze leftovers in a freezer zip-top bag for up to 3 months.
This recipe was originally published on November 22, 2017.