What is it?: Christmas mincemeat
Christmas is on its way! I confess that from 15th November I have been listening to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ on almost a daily basis, making Christmas shopping trips to Westfield and thinking about my Christmas baking, but I am somebody that really loves Christmas – like really loves it. Last year I took on so much Christmas baking I spent two solid days in the kitchen, barely sleeping and hardly ever stopping for lunch. I had such a great couple of days and made pork pies, Christmas cupcakes, Florentines, truffles, chutney, puddings and fudge. I fear this year will be even more intense and, after doing some planning earlier this afternoon, it looks like the next 25 days will be pretty bake-tastic. When I’m not out at Christmas parties or supper clubs, obvs. When I took on this project of baking everything from Short & Sweet, I knew I had given myself a lot to do, however it only just dawned on me that if I wanted to get all of it done within the year, I would have to bake ALL of the Christmas recipes this year. Not as easy as you might think, but I am determined, so I rolled up my sleeves and got started on the basis of any Christmas baking – the mincemeat. Before I started this, I had planned to make the delicious cranberry and orange mincemeat by the lovely Ginger Gourmand, but this is going to have to wait until next year, for 2012 the mincemeat of choice is Dan Lepard’s Dark Rich Mincemeat.
This is a suet-free mincemeat (not quite vegan as it contains butter, but definitely vegetarian) that contains two types of booze: stout and brandy. What is Christmas about if not drinking?! It takes a little bit of prep, but is actually remarkably simple – the dried fruit and some diced apple is added to a boiled mixture of stout (I used Guinness), sugar, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, mixed spice and butter and simmered until thick and gloopy. When cooled slightly, a generous slug of brandy is stirred in to finish. The smell is so Christmassy and boozy it will make you want to put on a paper hat and fall asleep on the couch. If you have never made your own mincemeat, I urge you to do so immediately for it is far superior to anything you can buy in the shops and is very easy to make. One batch should see you through the whole of the festive season and can be whipped up in less than an hour. This will soon be made into some rather excellent mince pies, if I can stop myself eating huge spoonfuls from the jar, that is.