My late Mom’s recipe box is a treasured resource for old family recipes. This is one of them. My Mom loved mincemeat and the smell of these squares cooking always reminds me of her. Perfect for Christmas, they are quick and easy to make and they really are delicious.
I like to think of this recipe as an amalgamation of Canadian and British traditions. Although a British Christmas doesn’t typically involve the cookies and squares we so enjoy in Canada and the US, this recipe combines a traditional British ingredient – mincemeat – with a delicious North American Christmas custom.
Mincemeat is a very traditional ingredient here in England. In Tudor and even as late as Victorian times it contained meat as well as dried fruits and spices. The latter ingredients helped to hide the fact that the meat was probably not as fresh as it ought to have been. Mincemeat was often served encased in pastry but it was less a dessert than a main course at that time. Particularly in Tudor times, mincemeat was not exclusively a Christmas dish and was served all year round.
Today, despite its name, mincemeat should never contain meat although it does contain a shredded solid form of fat called suet. It is always served in desserts or treats, most commonly mince pies. These are actually tart sized and are usually served with coffee or tea as a snack. Mincemeat is a mixture of currants, raisins, sugar, apples, candied peel, spices and suet all cooked together. Sometimes brandy or rum is added for flavour and recently I’ve seen variations with cranberries and even dried apricots. Some varieties of mincemeat contain nuts as well. While I can buy jars of mincemeat easily in any grocery store here in England and sometimes even in Canada, I know it can be harder to source if you live in the US. Even if you can buy it locally, homemade mincemeat really is lovely and if you have the time it’s well worth trying. Don’t worry if not though, like my Mom I’ve only ever used mincemeat from a jar in this recipe.
If you do want to give making your own mincemeat a try, you can click here for a very straight-forward recipe. I also found a suet and sugar free recipe here on Vicky’s wonderful Gluten Free SCD and Veggie Blog.
My tips for this recipe:
Use ordinary oats, never the instant variety.
The texture of these squares means it’s important they are cold before they are cut. Use a sharp knife. I cut the whole pan up into squares at once as it’s easier.
The squares will keep in the fridge for three or four days. Be sure to store them in a container with a tight fitting lid so they do not dry out.
If possible, bring the cut Mincemeat Oat Squares to room temperature before serving. They taste nice cold but you won’t believe how delicious they are at room temperature!
My Mom’s Mincemeat Oat Squares give the flavour of mince pies without all the work of rolling pastry and the crumble topping really is scrumptious. They are delicious served as part of a cookie tray or just on their own with a nice hot cup of tea or coffee.
- ¾ cup rolled oats (not instant)
- ¾ cup all purpose (plain) flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup butter, (cold, cut in small cubes)
- 1¼ cups mincemeat (store bought is fine, but choose a good brand)
- 2 tablespoon rum, brandy, Cointreau or Grand Mariner
- (use orange juice instead if you need an alcohol free option)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F or about 170°C (160°C for fan ovens).
- Grease a 7-inch square pan and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Put the mincemeat in a small bowl and stir in the rum, brandy, Cointreau or Grand Mariner. Set aside.
- Combine the flour with the butter in a medium bowl and cut the butter into the flour until mixture resembles fine crumbs. You can use a food processor for this or do it by hand with an old-fashioned pastry blender.
- Add the oats, baking soda, salt and sugar to the butter and flour mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Press half of this mixture into the prepared pan.
- Put the pan in the freezer and the remaining oat mixture in the fridge.
- After 15 minutes, remove the square pan from the freezer and the remaining oat mixture from the fridge.
- Carefully spread the boozy mincemeat over the top of the oat mixture in the square pan.
- Gently sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over top of the mincemeat.
- Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the squares are lightly golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then place the squares in the pan in the fridge for about half an hour or so before cutting.
- Once the squares are cut, it's best to allow them to come to room temperature before serving.
- Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for several days.
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