Sitting on top on my microwave is a little box. Burned into the wood of that box is the name Elaine. Elaine was my fiance, Frankie’s, paternal grandmother, and although she passed long before I was in the picture, I hear nothing but wonderful things about her. Inside that little box is all of her recipes, most of which were handwritten on index cards. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never gone through all her recipes- I’ll get there someday. One day while perusing the aisles of a local grocery store, we came across some boxes of mincemeat. I’d heard of mincemeat, and also had made some unfair assumptions about it, but had never used any or tried it. We decided to buy a box because mincemeat cookies were a favorite recipe of Frank’s (Frankie’s dad). His mom used to make them for him so I decided it was finally time to crack open that box and take a look. I wasn’t surprised to find the recipe I needed tucked away nice and neat inside. Mincemeat Filled Cookies. Now anyone who has ever followed a recipe written by their grandmother probably understands that recipes weren’t written back then like they are today. There’s no step 1 or pictures to walk you through. There’s just grandma’s tiny handwriting and a glimmer of hope that you might somehow duplicate the magic that goes into a cookie made by grandma. I’m not even a mom yet (except to a big ol’ pile of animals) so it’ll be a long time before my grandma magic kicks in, but I decided to give it my best shot. Don’t knock this recipe until you try it. I was skeptical at first, and that’s being nice. Your fear might even increase during the process, likely at the point where you crack open that package of mincemeat, but have no fear. These will turn out tasty, and you can join the portion of the population who still has an appreciation for this timeless tradition.
Before we get started, I want to clarify what mincemeat is, because its terrifying what you can find on the internet if you try hard and truly believe. According to Wikipedia, mincemeat is “a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices, and sometimes beef suet, beef, or venison. Originally, mincemeat always contained meat. Many modern recipes contain beef suet, though vegetable shortening is sometimes used in its place.”
I used None Such brand condensed mincemeat with the following ingredient list: RAISINS, BROWN SUGAR, DRIED APPLES, DEXTROSE, WATER, SALT, BEEF, CORN STARCH, DRIED CITRUS PEEL, APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE, SPICES, DISTILLED VINEGAR. I ignored the fact that is says there’s beef in there and I recommend you do the same. Moving on…
The first step in this process is to make cookie dough. I won’t make you decipher the recipe cards above. Let’s break it down.
First things first- gather the ingredients. Flour, Sugar, Eggs, Butter, Baking Powder, & Lemon Juice. I decided to half this recipe after remembering Elaine lived with 6 men (a husband & 5 sons). Nobody needs 3 doz. mincemeat cookies.
Sift your flour & salt into a bowl. You can sift the baking powder in too. I simply forgot. I always sift my flour, even though I just read yesterday it’s completely unnecessary since we no longer need to worry about weevils in our flour. I just like the fine consistency.
Next thing you want to do is mix your wet ingredients in a separate bowl. If you’re halving the recipe- 6 Tbsp. of soft butter, 3/4 C. Sugar and a egg.
Mix until it looks like the picture above.
Plop your wet ingredients into your dry ones and mix til the cows come home. Seriously. If I had this to do over, it would have found itself in a stand mixer, but nonetheless, mix until its a crumbly dough.
Dump your crumbly dough out on the counter and sort-of kneed it together. You just want it to come together into a cohesive dough- its not bread. Once you have true cookie dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. The original recipe says to cool up to 24 hours. I only cooled for 6-8 and it turned out fine.
Now for the mincemeat… mine came in a box like this. There are numerous “styles” but mine needed to be reconstituted. I decided to follow the instructions for the Substitution for Ready-to-Use. 1 package was more than enough for these cookies.
Fresh out of the foil package, it looks like a brick of stuff I won’t further discuss. It was also sticky and hard. The instructions said to crumble it into a pan, but I didn’t see that happening, so I cut it up first.
I crumbled it into a small pan, added the recommended amount of water, and cooked as directed (Boiled for 1 minute). The picture on the right is the finished product.
Elaine’s cookie recipe called for adding walnuts to the mincemeat, so I did that and mixed it all up in the same bowl I made the cookie dough in because I’m lazy.
Once your cookie dough has chilled, cut it into sections and roll it out on a floured surface. Use a circle cookie-cutter to cut out circles. Continue doing this with all the dough until you have an even number. You’ll need 2 circles/cookie.
Place half your circles on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Preheat your oven to 375.
On top of each of the cookies, drop 1/2-3/4 Tbsp. of the filling. You don’t want to put too much or it’ll ooze out and make a mess, but you also don’t want hollow cookies. Take another cookie and lay it on top, sealing the edges by pressing down all the way around.
Use a fork to press around the edges of each cookie really sealing it. Then use the fork to create little vent holes in the top to prevent a blow out.
Brush each cookie with an egg wash (Egg yolk with a splash of water). Sprinkle each cookie with sugar.
Pop the cookies in the oven for 12 minutes, let cool, and enjoy. They closely resemble a raisin cookie- pretty good!
Makes: 3 doz. filled cookies
3 C. Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
3/4 C. Butter- Soft
1 1/2 C. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Lemon Rind (I used lemon juice because I didn’t have a fresh lemon)
1 C. Mincemeat
1/2 C. Walnuts
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Egg Yolk
1 tsp. Water
1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl
2. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, butter, lemon and eggs until smooth and creamy
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until crumbly dough forms
4. Dump dough onto counter and kneed until it comes together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 6+ hours
5. While cookie dough chills, crumble mincemeat into a small pan. Add the water recommended on the box and boil for 1 minute. Pour the mincemeat into a bowl, and stir in walnuts. Allow filling to cool on the counter while cookie dough is also chilling
6. Once the cookie dough has chilled, cut it into quarters or halves and roll out on a floured surface (about 1/4 inch thick). Cut out circles with a cookie cutter, and continue this until you have used all the dough or have an even number of circles
7. Place half the cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheets
8. Begin pre-heating oven to 375
9. Drop 1/2-3/4 Tbsp. of filling onto each cookie on the cookie sheets
10. Once all the cookies have filling, place another cookie on top to seal in the filling. Lightly use your finger to press around the edges to seal. Then use a fork to press around the edges to securely seal the cookies. Poke holes in the top of the cookies to create a vent hole
11. In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and water and lightly brush this on top of each cookie. Sprinkle each cookie with sugar
12. Bake for 12 minutes, then cool before enjoying