Photo by: Zack Hall
Traditional Mincemeat Cookies for Thanksgiving
You know how some women start that whole nesting thing when it gets close to her time? My daughter will clean and rearrange every stick of furniture in her house in the week's preceding her babies birth.
Well you don't have to check the weather channel to know its fall at my house. I get the urge to bake every year at thist ime. It's almost to the point of being a compulsion. Last week I baked a triple batch of mini-pumpkin muffins. Yesterday, I couldn't stop thinking about grandma's mincemeat cookies. They were my absolute favorite.
Grandma passed on in the mid 80's and sadly I never had the forethought to ask for her mincemeat cookie recipe. It's funny how much we take for granted until after our loved ones pass on. I remember spending summers working in the huge family garden. We spent weeks canning and freezing our bountiful harvest. Later we filled those crisp fall days with a wondrous array of baked goods in every variety.
Funny, I don't remember family members being overweight but we sure ate well in those days. Maybe all the love grandma packed inside didn't leave any room for calories in the food. People would drop in all day long and no one ever left hungry.
These past few days I've thought a great deal about my grandmother. She was born on February 11, 1917 -- wow that was a long time ago. The closer I get to turning fifty myself, the more my family means to me. Each time I recall memories of my grandmother, I can't help but think about her mincemeat cookies. I finally decided that I had to share the tradition with my son. After all, how many people have even heard of mincemeat cookies these days?
My mother doesn't even remember grandma making them. Perhaps, she made them special just for me? No one else in the family remembers them. So, of course I had to give it a go. I had thought about attempting them a couple years ago but I had no idea that mincemeat was so expensive. Fortunately, a few months ago or local market had a clearance sale on jars of mincemeat and I paid $1.79 a jar, so I bought two. I'm so glad I did.
The recipe I chose was the wrong one. The cookies were much spicier than grandma's cookies. I'll give you both recipes here, and I'll let you know how the basic recipe turns out after I've tried it out. I'm guessing it will be just right.
To tell you the truth I don't care for mincemeat. You couldn't give me a mincemeat pie but these cookies are something special. I warned my son that he might not like them before I baked any. To my surprise he said these are the best cookies he's ever had and has been gobbling them up left and right.
Use either traditional mincemeat or the all fruit mincemeat with this recipe with great results. I used Crosse & Blackwell Mincemeat Filling & Topping, made with heirloom Pippin Apples. These traditional cookies are not for everyone, but receive rave reviews from mincemeat lovers and non-mincemeat lovers alike.
Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease cookie sheets. Cream the shortening and sugar together then beat in vanilla and eggs until light and fluffy, set aside. In a small bowl whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice together. Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture and mix well using a sturdy wooden spoon.
Stir in the mincemeat and pecans mix until blended. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto the prepared cookie sheet. We prefer small cookies so I use round balls of dough. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until light brown. (Note: We live in the mountains, using lighter colored pans and the cookies were taking around 10-12 minutes to bake.
Cool on cookie sheets for four minutes, then finish cooling on wire racks or countertop. Store in an airtight container or freeze to retain freshness.
Note: Walnuts or any other favorite nut maybe substituted for the pecans if desired.
This is the basic recipe I found that is normally published on the jar of Borden's None Such Mincemeat. I think this is the one she used -- I'll let you know...
Combine flour salt and soda. Cream shortening, adding sugar gradually and cream until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in mincemeat. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing well.
Drop by teaspoons about 2-inches apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in 400° oven for about 12-minutes.
Makes 48 cookies.
Note: These resemble a raisin cookie in flavor. If using homemade mincemeat, add some sugar, however store bought mincemeat in a jar is recommended instead for a fruity taste.