23 December 2007

Mincemeat Cookies

First off: enjoy this image of chopped figs in all their glory. This was the only picture I could snap off before the winter storm blew in, blocking any natural light and dumping sleet and snow everywhere. Should make for a fun drive to my parents' house later today. Super. Can't wait to scrape all the ice and snow off the car and freeze my butt off and potentially drop presents in the white stuff while trying to pack up the car and then forget something in my rush to get out of the weather...

Anyhoo.

Mincemeat seems to scare a lot of people, but I've always been fascinated by it. The first time I heard there was actual meat involved, it had me hooked. Meat in a fruit pie? Wha...? Can you taste the meat? Is the texture there? It's difficult to actually figure this out, though, because it seems like no one makes mincemeat anymore.

Mincemeat was first made centuries ago in England, as a method to stretch a small amount of meat by adding fruit (therefore creating a sweetmeat mixture). This mixture was preserved with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as brandy. Today most mincemeat is made with fruit and spices only (not a speck of actual meat in sight). And yet people still won't touch the stuff when it's presented to them. To be honest, the thought of meat in pie is very interesting to me but I can't promise I wouldn't eat more than a bite or two. Certainly not worth making an entire pie.


However? That whole fruit/spice/citrus combo in a not-meat product sounds rather good! So this year, I have taken up the challenge to bring mincemeat to the masses. I was making some for Christmas this year, and people were going to eat it. Even if I had to fool them into it.

Instead of breaking out an actual mincemeat pie (which I am almost certain only my father would touch), I decided to ease the family into it by hiding the mincemeat in cookies. I found a fig and walnut cookie recipe, and altered it from there to replicate mincemeat filling. These cookies taste like figgy-apple-citrus mini pies. The lemon and figs really stand out the most, which I love. And I'm only telling my family about the mincemeat after these cookies have been gobbled up...



Mincemeat Cookies
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)



Pastry Dough:
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c.) unsalted butter, room temperature


Filling and Cookies:
9 oz. dried Mission figs, stems discarded
1/2 c. dried currants
3/4 c. honey
1/4 c. orange juice
2 Tbsp. applesauce
3/4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
A generous pinch of the following ground spices: cloves, nutmeg, and ginger
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Splash of rum
1 c. almonds, chopped
1 large egg, beaten to blend

For the pastry dough: Whisk the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl to blend. Mix the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the egg mixture and mix with a fork until the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide the dough in 2 and flatten into disks. Wrap the dough disks in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.



Preheat the oven to 350 F.



Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely chop the figs and currants in a food processor. Add the honey, orange juice, applesauce, spices, rum, and lemon zest, and pulse just to blend. Scrape the fig mixture into a medium bowl. Stir in the almonds. Transfer the fruit mixture to a pastry bag.



Roll out 1 disk of dough on a floured work surface to 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch diameter biscuit cutter, cut out dough rounds. Gather the dough scraps into a disk, then cover and refrigerate while assembling the cookies. Spoon the fruit mixture in the center of each dough round. Lightly moisten the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Fold the dough over the filling and press the edges to seal. Arrange the cookies evenly apart on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the tops of the cookies with egg wash. Bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 18 minutes.



Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely. Repeat with the refrigerated dough scraps and remaining filling.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

ohmygaawd!
i've recently fallen in love with dried figs! i'm like literally digging into them. those little delicacies are perfect and are sure to be on my to-bake list! That is, right when i'll be able to go to the grocery store since I ate my last fig 2 days ago.

Nemmie said...

A warning! I proudly presented these to my dad, and he promptly told me they were "too figgy" to be real mincemeat.

So, yeah. Sounds like you love figs so go for it! But if you are looking for a traditional mincemeat - er, I need to keep working on that.

simplesmile_ said...

done and done! I've baked those sweethearts quite some weeks ago but didn't have time to comment about them yet. I turned the mincemeat into a fig puree filling instead and am delighted that I have. Those cookies are a keeper!

you can see them on my blog : http://the-simplestlove.blogspot.com/2008/01/sexiest-dried-fruits-figs.html

Josh said...

I just tried this recipe and it is too delicious. For me, I usally buy my figs from Holy Food Imports since they ship fresh figs and other goods to your house, and the quality is great, compared to what you commonly find at your local markets.