Holiday baking is one of my favorite aspects of this season. Is that any surprise? If there’s anything I enjoy half as much as writing, it’s baking (and photographing what I bake).

Here’s a Christmas cookie recipe that’s been a favorite since my Aunt Judy shared it with me several years ago. It’s been a popular holiday recipe in their family for years, something I missed out on growing up 3000 miles away. But now we’re on the same coast, and I’m slowly learning her baking secrets. I’d never tasted mincemeat before, and honestly wasn’t sure what it was until I went looking to make this recipe. Meat? In a cookie? Come to find out there’s types of mincemeat made with apples. Pippins, to be exact. 

Christmas Mincemeat Bars

1.5 cups brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs
2 tbsp. molasses
1 tbsp. soft butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each cinnamon and cloves
3 tbsp hot water
1/4 cup almonds, slivered or sliced
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1 pkg (9 oz.) mincemeant* broken up with fork
1.5 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 or 3 tbsp hot milk
1/2 tsp each vanilla and almond flavoring

* If using mincemeat in a jar (as I do), rather than a package, eliminate use of hot water. Sufficient moisture in mincemeat in jar.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease one jelly roll pan (1 x 11 x 15). Mix brown sugar, eggs, molasses, butter and vanilla. Measure flour by dip-level-pour method or by sifting. Blend flour, salt, soda and spices; stir into sugar/egg mixture. Mix in hot water (unless using mincemeat from a jar). Stir in almonds, raisins and mincemeat.

Spread thin in greased pan. Dough puffs and fills in any holes as it bakes. Bake 12-15 minutes. Spread immediately with mixture of confectioners sugar, milk and flavorings. Cut into squares or diamonds (shown).

Makes 6 dozen 2 x 1.5 bars. Cool 10 minutes before cutting.

As this treatise is calculated for the improvement of the rising generation of Females in America, the Lady of fashion and fortune will not be displeased, if many hints are suggested for the more general and universal knowledge of those females in this country, who by loss of their parents, or other unfortunate circumstances, are reduced to the necessity of going into families in the line of domestics, or taking refuge with their friends or relations, and doing those things which are really essential to the perfecting of them as good wives, and useful members of society.

~ Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796

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