Ho ho ho! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Almost every mall and commercial establishment here in Dubai is decked up for the season. My Christmas shopping began months ago when I started jotting down recipes to be tried this year. By early October I had finalised my menu and started trying out dishes. I am so glad I did this as my camera and laptop decided to crash in when the baking-clicking frenzy had just caught up with me. Luckily they are repaired and are back with me in the nick of time. While the duo was gone I did get some quality time to stop thinking about food and live life as a non blogger for a bit. Yes, on many occasions I contemplated using my iPhone camera to click pictures, but none satisfied me as would my trusted DSLR would. Anyway, one of the recipes I had tried out 'pre-crash' was the mincemeat crumble bars.
I had seen this recipe a while ago and bookmarked it. However, the name was pretty misleading. If you thought this is a hardcore non vegetarian savoury dish you are wrong! This dish has nothing to do with meat! In fact, this recipe doesn't even contain eggs! Then why is it called 'mincemeat'? Well, traditionally mincemeat was a mixture of dried fruits, spices, vinegars, eggs and beef or venison meat. This was used as a pie filling and was eaten more as a dessert than as a savoury meal accompaniment. Today's mincemeat is restricted to just dried fruits, fruit peels & spices heavily soaked in rum or brandy and makes an excellent mixture to be added to rum cakes or pies. Notice that the name says 'mince meat' and not 'minceD meat'.
Confused? So was I initially. On our several trips to the supermarket I looked for a bottle of mincemeat but could not find any, so I asked my brother and other relatives to keep an eye out just in case they found one. Everyone had a 'savoury' requirement in mind and even suggested that I should ask the local butcher if I wanted it specifically made :D Anyway, once the confusion was cleared and I found my jar of mincemeat I got to work immediately.
These crumble bars have a crumbly shortbread base (like a butter cookie) with a sweet & tart and VERY rich mincemeat filling topped by a lovely sweet crumble with almonds. This is a perfect dessert on your Christmas menu if you really don't have time to put a proper Christmas cake together. Of course, these crumble bars don't aim to replace the cake in any way but they sure make up for your sins as they are almost like short bread cookies married to mixed dried fruit :-)
Mincemeat Crumble Bars
Recipe source: Everyday Muffins & Bakes
Prep time: 15 mins | Chilling time: 20 mins | Baking time: 35 | Yield 12 bars or 9 squares
For the shortbread crust (bottom layer)
- 140 grams / 5 oz unsalted butter at room temperature + extra for greasing the pan
- 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar * see note#1
- 150 grams / 5-1/2 oz plain flour (maida)
- 85 grams/ 3 oz cornflour (cornstarch)
For the filling (middle layer)
- 400 grams/ 14 oz ready made mincemeat
- icing sugar for dusting
For the topping
- 115 grams/ 4 oz self-raising flour*see notes
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
- 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar
- 25 grams/ 1oz flaked almonds *see notes
1. Grease & line a shallow 28x20 com/ 11x8 inch cake tin with baking parchment. (I simply used a 9x9 inch square tin). Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/400 F.
2. To make the bottom layer, beat the butter & sugar in a bowl till pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour, cornflour and then with your hands lightly knead the mixture together to form a ball. Press this dough into the prepared cake tin and even it out. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Then bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes till it is puffed & golden.
3. To make the middle layer spread the mince meant over the bottom layer.
4. To make the crumble topping, place the flour, butter, sugar in a bowl and rub together till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the flaked almonds. and spread this mixture over the mincemeat layer. Bake in the oven for another 20-22 minutes till golden brown.
5. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool for 12-15 minutes. Run a knife through to make bars. Cool completely.
6. Dust icing sugar over the bars and serve. Store in an airtight container - it keeps well at room temperature for 3-4 days (not in hot weather though)
1. Since I didn't have golden caster sugar I used regular white - fine granulated caster sugar. You may use regular sugar measured and then powdered in a grinder.
2. To make your own self raising flour measure out 1 cup (115 grams flour) by sifting the flour directly into the measuring cup. This way you are certain not to cram up any extra flour. Alternatively you may simply weigh the quantity on a kitchen scale. Add to it 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder & 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Sift all the ingredients together once again.
3. Flaked almonds are sliced almonds (without skin). Buy them ready made if they are available, otherwise simply blanch them at home - Place almonds (with skin) in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover them. Cover the bowl with a lid and keep for 15 minutes. The peels should come off easily. Pat them dry and thinly slice them lengthwise.