Having discovered many American treats and delicacies since our arrival I was delighted to hear that the traditional Christmas mince pie is a bit of an unknown to my Stateside friends.
The traditional sweet fare at Christmas in America would be (I am told) a Cinnamon Roll or Apple Pie. Bearing in mind that most mince pies are scoffed down with a cup of tea in hand, I feel like not only is the recipe itself a novelty but the form of a small festive treat alongside a hot drink is a uniquely British feature of the festive period also.
I hope that my version of a traditional Christmas mincemeat recipe (altered for my personal tastes, low fat desires and availability of ingredients) will be a fair introduction for my American audience and a forgivable rendition for the Brits!
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped/flaked almonds
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup dark brown sugar
Grate the apple, skin and all, into a large bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
There are some notable absences in this recipe for anyone who is already initiated in the way of Christmas mincemeat. The first being suet. Suet, for any that do not know, is a hard fat (that surrounds the kidneys) that is grated, when added to the mincemeat and cooked it melts to give an unctuous and sticky consistency. I have used a vegetarian suet alternative in the past but have omitted suet and all its variants from this recipe. I have done this to reduce the fat content of the mincemeat (I'll be making up for it with the all butter puff pastry) and also to keep the recipe a bit lighter and allow the nuts and fruits to be individually discernible in the finished pie, for their flavours to really be the stars. Also the use of dark sugar and dried cranberries results in a very sticky mix which give the same unctuous texture that the suet helps with. Some may think me sacrilegious, some may herald me the defender of the holiday period diet... others may suggest I just couldn't find suet in the supermarket. I'll happily sit somewhere in the middle of that debate.
I have also opted for fresh peel rather than candied as I wanted a truer more 'grown up' citrus flavour rather than the sugary sweetness akin to Opal Fruits (retro reference) or gummy bears.
Plop the mixture into a jar, that can be made airtight, that has been through the dishwasher or dunked in boiling water to sterilise it. If your mix does not fill the jar, pat it flat and place a circle of greaseproof paper snug to the surface of it. This will keep the mixture from drying out in the air within the jar.
Seal the jar and leave it to mature for about a week. The mix will keep for a good few months in a sterilised air tight jar and continue to mature, but make sure you leave it at least a week.
I'll be making up the first batch of my pies next week!