Thanks to the Post Office, and my wonderful cousin Janet, we had a little miracle on Libbit Avenue this year.
A lost recipe from Mom. Not just any recipe, but one that tastes exactly like Christmas.
Turned out, I had everything I needed in the cupboard**. I doubled the recipe, diligently following her handwritten notes on the back***. As the bars were baking, the house began filling with the unmistakable scent of warm cinnamon and spice. Now thoroughly in the mood to tackle a task I'd been putting off for far too long, I finally pulled the holiday boxes out of the garage to start decorating.
And there she was.
Almost like the cane left in the doorway at the end of my favorite Christmas movie of all time. I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both.
I hope your holiday was full of warm, spicy, heartstring-tugging miracles, too.
Mom's Miracle Mince Bars
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
One bite of these spicy, cake-like bars and you'll feel as happy as Kris Kringle does when he gets that letter from Doris and Susan. Or as I do every time little Tommy says, "Would you, Daddy?" and the State of New York has to concede the existence of Santa Claus.
Ingredients (24 bars)
- 1/2 c. raisins
- 2 generous Tbs. Calvados or good brandy
- 2 c. flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. butter
- 2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 c. prepared mincemeat
- powdered sugar for dusting, about 1/4 c.
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 13x9 baking pan.
Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Stir in the Calvados/brandy and let steep for 10-15 minutes, while you mix everything else up.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, and set that aside too.
In large pot, melt the butter over medium high heat until bubbling and beginning to turn brown. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the brown sugar with a large spoon or spatula. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat well by hand to combine.
Stir in the mincemeat, then add the flour mixture. Finally, drain the raisins, which should now be nice and plump and vaguely alcoholic, and stir those in at the end.
Spread the dough evenly the prepared pan (it will be quite thick), and then bake for 35 minutes. The center should spring back when touched, and the edges will be golden brown.
Cool completely in the pan, then give the bars a thorough dusting of powdered sugar. Cut into squares and serve.
* As do the visits from their brethren, the UPS guys and the FedX truck. That sister of mine, at it again.
** Yes, I had, for some reason, picked up a jar of mincemeat (which used to be actual meat but is now mostly dried fruit, apples, spices and brandy) while stocking up for holiday baking. I had a craving for these bars, and had planned to scour the Internet for some way to recreate them. Then I unearthed my cousin's letter in a pile of mail by my desk.
*** Per the card: "note: I add extra raisins, currents or the like. Also I melt my butter in a pan large enough for the entire batter. I usually double the recipe for cookie eaters Sharon & Diane. Bon Appetit! --Rose"