Christmas baking: Mincemeat and Polenta Shortbread

Christmas Mince and Polenta ShortbreadAlthough I made mince pies for the Christmas Cookalong, that was the night I realised why I don’t normally make them. As I fiddled with the pastry and Little Missy stuck her hands, once again, under my rolling pin – difficult to avoid when she’s standing on her wee stool directly in front of me so she can help with what she calls “‘tars” – I kept thinking that there have to be easier ways to make things with Christmas mincemeat.

These Christmas Mincemeat Muffins go down a treat and my mother always makes a large mince tart – short pastry underneath, puff on top – in a swiss roll tin which can be cut up as needed. But this Christmas Mince and Polenta Shortbread, adapted from a Julie Le Clerc recipe, is the new favourite at the cottage.

This recipe makes a big slab of crunchy, Christmassy yummyness that you can a) cut into large squares and serve warm with some Cointreau cream for wintertime puddings or b) slice into more elegant fingers for afternoon nibbling. Incidentally, Cointreau cream – whip a 250ml pot of cream and add 2-3 tablespoons of Cointreau, 1 teaspoon icing sugar and the zest of 1 clementine – goes well with lots of Christmas sweet things.

Christmas Mince and Polenta Shortbread

You can use either fine or medium polenta in this recipe but the medium sort will be a little crunchier. I buy my polenta in a local health food shop and have also found it stocked in most Middle Eastern shops under the brand name Aytac and marked as corn meal.

Fine or medium polenta – 200g

Self-raising flour – 300g

Demarara sugar – 225g

Baking powder – 1 teaspoon

Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

Butter – 250g, cubed

Egg – 1

Sweet mincemeat – 400g

Fresh or frozen cranberries – 100g

Preheat the oven to 160ºC (150ºC fanbake).

Grease the base and sides of a 25cm x 38cm x 4cm Swiss roll tin. Mix the polenta, flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon together in a large bowl or, using the pulse button, in the bowl of a food processor. Rub or process the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like breadcrumbs then add the beaten egg and bring together in a crumbly mass.Pat half the mixture into the bottom of the tin, spread with the mincemeat and scatter the cranberries on top. Cover losely with the rest of the polenta shortbread. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.Cut into large squares and serve warm with cream for desert or allow to cool and slice into fingers.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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4 Responses

  1. Kristin says:

    Ah yes, “helpers”. Baking wouldn’t be half as much fun without them.

  2. Arlene says:

    Oh this looks delicious! I love the texture that polenta brings to baked goods. Nigella has a great rhubarb cake with polenta that is a firm favourite here. I think I need to buy another jar of mincemeat! Where do you source frozen cranberries?

  3. Mary says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you, can’t wait to try these, they were delicious 🙂 Hope you have a very very Happy Christmas

  4. Caroline says:

    @Kristin little fingers getting squashed under the rolling pin does not a happy helper make! She was must better at picking the roasted hazelnuts out of their skins for the Salted Caramel and Hazelnut Squares that I sent you.

    @Arlene often the frozen cranberries are sourced from my own freezer. I often stash a bag in there when they fresh ones are plentiful in the shops.

    @Mary it was only your imploring that got the recipe up there so fast! Hope you enjoy it.

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