Flaky mincemeat tarts or mince pies filled with the most delicious mince pie filling I can imagine.
Let me start by telling you that mincemeat tarts or mince pies are amazing! They are some of my favorite Christmas cookies and if you have never had the chance of having some homemade mincemeat pies you are really missing on something.
I had mincemeat tarts for the first time when living and working in London more than 10 years ago and I have been hooked ever since. These tiny pastry shells filled with that amazing sweet and tart, spicy filling are just too good to be true.
The mincemeat tarts are part of my Harry Potter series, mince pies that Molly Weasley baked for her family at Christmas.
Table of contents
What are mincemeat pies or tarts?
Mince pies or mincemeat pies or tarts originate in England and are little pastry shells filled with a mixture of dried fruit and spice filling. Mince pies are very popular sweets during the Christmas season. Check out this moist Last-Minute Mincemeat Cake, you will love it!
The original mince pies were actually a savory dish containing meat (mostly lamb), a tart, or pie made with meat and dried fruit. Over the generations, the mincemeat pies developed turning into the sweet dessert pies we know nowadays.
The origins of the mincemeat pies can be tracked down to the 11th century when the Crusaders started bringing spices from the Holy Land, spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, which were given as a gift to baby Jesus by the Magi.
During those times it was thought to bring good luck and happiness if you managed to eat one pie on each day of Christmas. 12 days of Christmas ending on the 5th of January. I could manage that...
- For the pie pastry, you will need the usual ingredients: flour, unsalted butter, sugar, salt, and water.
- It is very important that the butter and the water are very cold.
- A mixture of mixed dried fruits, like raisins, and cranberries, currants, apricots.
- Spices: nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, orange zest
- 2 small apples
- Orange juice -freshly squeezed
- Brandy – optional, if you have it.
- Egg yolk
How to make mincemeat tarts?
This recipe for mince pies is actually easier to make than the traditional mincemeat pie recipes. You will need fewer ingredients and making the mince pie filling will be cheaper and quicker as well.
But the results are still thoroughly delicious, you will not regret choosing this simpler recipe.
- Always use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients, cup measuring is very inaccurate.
- Cut the butter into small cubes, place them in one layer on a plate, and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes, they should not be frozen but get really cold.
- Place flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Mix well.
- Add butter on top, and pulse 5-6 times until the butter pieces are about the size of peas.
- With the motor running on low, add 4 tablespoons of the very cold water.
- Pulse a few times until the dough is crumbly, but sticks together when you pinch it. Only add the last tablespoon of cold water if the dough is still sandy and not crumbly yet.
- Turn the dough on the working surface and form a ball without kneading the dough.
- Form a disc, wrap in cling film/plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Can I freeze the pastry?
- The pastry can be made in advance and it keeps well in the fridge for several days, just make sure it is tightly wrapped in cling film.
- You can also make more pastry and freeze it, so you always have some ready when needed. Defrost in the refrigerator.
Mince pie filling
- In the meantime make the filling, as it will need time to get cool.
- Chop the larger pieces of dried fruit, for instance, the apricots. No need to chop the raisins, cranberries, or currants.
- Peel, core, and dice the apples.
- Place the dried fruits, apples, orange juice, molasses, brandy, orange zest, and spices in a small pot over medium heat.
- Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the apple pieces are soft and the mixture is thick and sticky. Set aside and leave to cool completely.
Form the mincemeat tarts
What do you need to cut the mince pies?
- You will need a round cutter or a glass of about 6 cm/2.3-inch diameter or just a little bit larger than the diameter of your muffin cup.
- You will also need another round cutter or glass of about 5 cm/1.9-inch diameter if you want to cover your mince pies completely.
- I preferred to cut flowers/stars and place them on top of the filling, but the choice is yours.
Roll the pastry
- Remove about ⅔ of the dough from the fridge and let the rest in the fridge until needed. Roll the dough in at least two batches, about 3mm/ 0.10 inches thick.
- Cut 24 circles of the dough using the larger cutter/ glass.
- Press the circles over the base of the greased muffin tray.
- Place 1 teaspoon of filling into each cup and spread evenly.
- If you are closing the pies, roll the scraps and the dough from the fridge and cut another 24 circles with the smaller cutter/glass.
- Dab some water around the edges of the pastry in the tray and place the smaller circles on top of each tart.
- Crimp and seal the edges with a fork.
- Cut a slit or two on top of each pie to allow the steam to escape.
- If you are only placing flowers or stars on top of the mince pies, things get a bit easier.
- Roll the scraps leftovers from the circles and cut flowers or stars with an appropriate cutter.
- Place them on top of each pie and brush with egg wash before baking.
- In this case, you will probably not need the leftover dough in the fridge, so you can freeze the leftovers for future use.
- Or roll it together with the last of the scraps, cut into squares, sprinkle the squares with some cinnamon sugar and bake some biscuits
More Christmas Cookies?
- Hagrid's Rock Cakes – as you've just had Molly's mincemeat tarts, how about trying Hagrid's rock cakes as well. Rest assure, they will not break your teeth!
- Ginger Snaps Recipe – these homemade ginger snaps are the best ginger cookies I've ever had, really addictive.
- German Hazelnut Macaroons or Nussmakronen – but a bowl of these in front of my husband and he will not stop until they are all gone...
- Coconut Macaroons – another delicious way of making macaroons, this time with coconut.
- Chocolate Crackle Cookies – so chewy and so full of chocolate, a classic cookie recipe enjoyed all over the world.
- Pastry (Notes 1,2,3)
- 350 g all-purpose flour 12.5 oz/ scant 3 cups
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 280 g unsalted butter 10 oz/ 2 ½ sticks, (Note 4)
- 4-5 tablespoons very cold water
- 125 g mixed dried fruits 4.4 oz (Note 5)
- 2 small apples Granny Smith
- 60 ml freshly squeezed orange juice 2 fl.oz/ ¼ cup
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- a pinch of orange zest
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- a pinch of nutmeg
- a pinch of ground cloves
- a pinch of allspice
- Egg wash:
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Cool butter: Cut the butter into small cubes, place them in one layer on a plate, and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes; they should not be frozen but get cold.
- Dough: Place flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Mix well. Add butter on top, pulse 5-6 times until the butter pieces are about the size of peas. With the motor running on low, add the icy water. First 4 tablespoons, only add the last if the dough is still sandy and not crumbly yet. Pulse a few times until the dough is crumbly but sticks together when you pinch it.
- Refrigerate: Turn the dough on the working surface and form a ball without kneading the dough. Next, form a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- In the meantime make the filling, as it will need time to get cool.
- Chop the larger pieces of dried fruit, like the apricots. No need to chop the raisins, cranberries, or currants. Peel, core, and dice the apples.
- Cook: Place the dried fruits, apples, orange juice, molasses, brandy, orange zest and spices in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the apple pieces are soft and the mixture is thick and sticky. Set aside and leave to cool completely.
Form and bake:
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the molds of two muffin trays.
- Roll and cut dough: Remove about ⅔ of the dough from the fridge and let the rest in the refrigerator until needed. Roll the dough in at least two batches, about 3mm/ 0.10 inches thick. Cut 24 circles of the dough using the large cutter/ glass of about 6 cm/2.5 inches diameter. Press the circles into the molds of the muffin tray.
- Fill: Place 1 teaspoon filling into each cup and spread evenly.
- Closed pies: Roll the remaining dough and cut 24 smaller circles with a smaller cutter of about 5 cm/2 inches. Dab some water around the edges of the pastry in the tray and place the smaller circles on top of each tart. Crimp and seal the edges with a fork. Cut a slit or two on top of each pie to allow the steam to escape.
- Flowers or stars: Roll the scraps of dough and cut 24 flowers or stars. In this case, you will have leftover pastry, which freezes very well.
- Egg wash: Mix the egg yolk and the milk and brush the pastry with the mixture.
- Bake the pies in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tray for about 5-10 minutes before transferring them onto a wire rack.
- Always use a digital kitchen scale in baking; it ensures the best results (Amazon affiliate link).
- If you decorate the mince pies with flowers or stars instead of closing them, you will have leftover pastry. The pastry freezes very well.
- You can roll the leftover scraps again, cut them into biscuits, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake.
- European style butter is best, it has less water.
- I used raisins, cranberries, currants and apricots