4 tablespoons butter
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and grated (Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious are good choices)
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 cup dried figs (or prunes or dates), chopped
3/4 cup candied mixed peel
1/2 cup candied red cherries, chopped
Zest and juice of one orange or lemon
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup dark or light rum
1/3 cup brandy or cognac
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Homemade Mincemeat:Place all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven, and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the mincemeat, stirring often, for about 30 minutes, or until the liquid is almost evaporated. Remove from heat and, if desired, stir in 2-4 tablespoons of rum or brandy. Let the mincemeat cool completely, then transfer to a covered container, and place in the refrigerator, at least overnight, before using. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Note:If storing longer than a week, stir in a little rum or brandy every week to keep it from drying out and to preserve the mincemeat. Otherwise it may not keep a month. Makes about 4 cups.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks
3 - 4 tablespoons ice cold water
1 1/4 cups
Pie Pastry: In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the cold butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about 15 seconds). Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of ice water over the pastry and process just until the pastry holds together when pinched. Add a little more water, if necessary.
Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the pastry in half, flatten each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 - 60 minutes, or until firm. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Have ready a 24 mini muffin tin (preferably non stick). After the pastry has chilled sufficiently, take one of the disks of pastry, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out each round of pastry until it's about 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter that's slightly bigger than the muffin cups, cut the pastry into 24 rounds. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).)
Gently place the rounds into the muffin cups and top each with a heaping teaspoon of mincemeat. Gather up any leftover scraps of pastry and re roll. Cut out 24 stars or other shapes using a small cookie cutter, and gently place the stars on top of the mincemeat. If desired, brush the tops of the stars with a little cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the pastry has lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. If desired, dust the Mince Pies with powdered sugar before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold. Yum Yum!