Mini Mincemeat Tarts are a lovely twist on a classic British dessert.
I am a lucky gal. I have been blessed with a handful of really great friends with whom I have created some wonderful memories and with whom I look forward to creating more memories. Some of my girlfriends are local, some are several hours away and one is an ocean away, in northern England.
I met my girlfriend Annie 10 years ago when her family lived in Wilmington. Originally from England, they were temporarily located in the United States and through sheer kismet, moved down the street from us. Our introduction was through our daughters who met on our local swim team and thereafter became inseparable.
In the 3 years that we knew Annie and her family in Wilmington, we made many memories. We introduced our British friends to ‘the Thanksgiving' meal and American basketball and they introduced us to the ‘tradition' of throwing nuts at your windows for good luck, which we since found out wasn't really based on any tradition! I'm not saying they played a joke on us…but we somehow became convinced that this was a time-honored English tradition.
One of the many common qualities Annie and I shared was the love of cooking. While visiting their home in England three years ago we made raspberry jam from the raspberries we had just picked in a field and when Annie still lived here, we spent a day baking Christmas cookies and treats in my kitchen.
That Christmas baking day is one of my fondest memories. We made some of each of our family's favored traditional Christmas treats. No doubt, I introduced her family to Grandma Stocker's Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Cookies and she introduced our family to the British traditional dessert of mini mincemeat tarts. While I don't have Annie baking with me, Kate and I made these mini mincemeat tarts over the weekend and reminisced about our fun times with our good friends.
References to mincemeat in England date back to the 15th century. At the time, a variety of meats were included in the recipe in addition to dried fruits, spices and alcohol. Since then the meat in the recipe has been replaced with vegetable or beef suet.
I had every intention of making my own mincemeat filling, but A) I did not get started in time (it takes a minimum of 2 weeks for the mixture to adequately meld) and B) I didn't quite know where to find vegetable suet. So I deferred to Annie who highly recommended Robertson's Classic Mincemeat.
This product originates in the United Kingdom, but I was able to find it on Amazon as well as my local World Market. Apples and other fruits comprise almost 60% of the ingredients of mincemeat filling with sugar, spices and vegetable suet filling the rest of the ingredient list.
To make these mini mincemeat tarts, I used Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee recipe (my go-to pie crust recipe). I use a 2.5″ round cookie cutter which is perfect for my mini tart pan. I partially pre-baked the empty tart shells and stars before I filled them to keep the crust from getting soggy.
I love food and when my love of food and my love of my friends overlap, it's a good and wonderful thing. What are the foods that bring back your happiest memories?
Thanks again for spending a few minutes of your busy day with me today.
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