The filling for this Thanksgiving standard is rich, dark and spicy, yet it has a fresher flavor--and less fat--than mincemeat from a jar.
To make filling: Combine apples, pears, chopped orange, raisins, figs, cherries (or cranberries), brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and pinch of salt in a large saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups water
, bring to a simmer, cover the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruits are very tender, 60 to 70 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the mincemeat is very thick and the juices have evaporated, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in brandy (or orange juice) and butter and let cool to room temperature.
To make dough: Meanwhile, stir together 1/2 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, yeast and 1/2 cup warm water
in a mixing bowl; let stand until the yeast starts to bubble, about 5 minutes. Stir in oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough becomes too difficult to stir. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour if necessary, until the dough is firm and satiny but not dry, about 5 minutes. (Be careful not to add too much flour.) Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
To assemble and bake tart: Place rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 375 degrees F. Coat an 11-inch tart pan, preferably with a removable bottom, with cooking spray.
Set one-fourth of the dough aside. Roll out the remaining dough on a lightly floured surface into a 15-inch circle. Fit the dough into the prepared tart pan, letting it hang over the edge of the pan. Spread the mincemeat filling in the pan. Fold the edge of the dough in over the filling.
Roll out the reserved dough on the floured surface. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters or a paring knife and set them on top of the mincemeat. Lightly brush the cut-outs and border of the dough with egg glaze and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar.
Bake until the crust is golden on top and browned on the bottom, 30 to 40 minutes. If the top of the tart is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil. Place the tart on a wire rack to cool slightly. Remove the rim of the pan and serve the tart warm or at room temperature.
Equipment: 11-inch tart pan
1/2 starch, 1 1/2 fruit, 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1/2 fat