Christmas time, mince pies and wine; a review

It’s that time again, Christmas is nearly upon us, and as the build up reaches fever pitch it can mean only one thing; MINCE PIES!

I love mince pies. The crumbly pastry, the rich and slightly boozy filling, icing if you fancy. I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me mince pies are fundamental part of the build up to Christmas. And when I saw build up, I mean up to Christmas Eve, as I never eat them from Christmas Day onwards. How many pies I manage to consume in an average year, I dread to think. What I can tell you is it is a lot, and they are delicious.

This year has been no exception. Going out of my way to try as many different styles and brands as I can, it is time to share with you the results of my thorough (ahem) research.

Of course, a review is useless if you do not have my criteria for judging the perfect mince pie. For me, there are four important criteria:

  1. A light, crumbly pastry
  2. A sweet and slightly boozy filling
  3. A good filling to pastry ratio (3 parts filling to 1 part pastry is about right)
  4. A good dusting of icing sugar (or other suitable topping)

Below I have listed some of the mince pies which have stood out, both the good and not so good. As you will see, most of these pies were bought from supermarkets, so hopefully most people in the UK should be able to try them if they wish. A couple of pies were purchased from local garden centres and farm shops, so getting hold of them might be a little more tricky. For those pies I have included a link to the relevant website, so if you are in or around West Yorkshire in the next week you might want to pop in and give them a try.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here is my review of this years mince pie selection…

Aldi’s Specially Selected All Butter Mince Pies

My first pie of the season, the Aldi offering is a solid choice. Good filling, slightly boozy, and a good filling to pastry ratio. The star design on top is a nice touch, although I would have preferred a little more icing sugar to complete the pie.

Jamie’s Festive Rating: 3.5/5

Tesco’s Finest Mince Pies

I have to admit I tried this mince pie after I had had a fairly large meal, so I might not have been in the best place to give it my full attention. Having said that, I did find the pie a little dry and stingy on the filling. The snowflake design on the top was interesting, but a lack of a sugar dusty made them looked a little bland.

Jamie’s Festive Rating: 2/5

Asda’s Extra Special Luxury Mini Mince Pies

I bought these to share around the office, offering twelve smaller pies instead of the usual six. Each pie is a single mouth full, and the pastry and filling ratio is really good. Like the Tesco pies the dusting was lacking, but by far the biggest drawback was the size. I could quite easily have eaten three or four without breaking a sweat.

Jamie’s Festive Rating: 4/5

Asda’s Extra Special All Butter Crumble Mince Pies

An original choice, with a crunchy crumbly top in place of the usual pastry top. I’ll admit the reason I bought these pies in the first place is they are a little bit better calorie-wise than a standard pie, but what I discovered is they are delicious. The crunchy topping adds to the delicious filling and really gives the pie an edge. They can even be forgiven for scrimping on the dusting.

Jamie’s Festive Rating: 4.5/5

Morrisons The Best Deep Filled Mince Pies

I tried Morrison’s offering when visiting my parents for dinner. There is a risk the comfort of home has warped my view a little, but even so the Morrisons entry is a good one. The filling/pastry ratio is good, the filling sweet, and they have at least made an attempt at a pie dusting. Definitely one to try

Jamie’s Festive Rating: 4/5

Mr Kipling Mini Mince Pie Selection

These were the first pies I bought purposefully to give me something to review. In the selection you get three choices; Deep Filled, Frangipane Top and Iced Top. A little bigger than the Asda mini mince pies, you may still find yourself wanting a second. The Deep Filled offering was average, a little short on filling but pleasant enough. The Icing Top was a nice addition, but any more than a mini mince pie could be a little sickly. And as for the Frangipane Top, the texture worked well, but the addition of the almond flavouring (something I love) doesn’t quite work with the mince filling for me.

Jamie’s Festive Ratings: 2.5/5, 2.5/5, 3/5

Viennese Whirl Mince Pies

My wife and I found these mince pies at Carr Gate Garden Centre near Wakefield. Sarah loves Viennese Whirls, so we had to buy them, and tried a pie while decorating the Christmas Tree. Unfortunately they were a disappointment. The whirl topping was dry, and the the filling to pastry ratio was poor. Luckily we had our amazing tree at the end to enjoy instead.

Jamie’s Festive Rating: 1/5

Frangipane Mince Pies

Another offering at my parent’s house. They had seen the pies when they were visiting Blacker Hall Farm in South Wakefield, and bought a selection to try at our early Christmas (my brother and his boyfriend are away this year, so we had a small gathering before they flew). Most of the food from the farm is delicious, unfortunately these pies were not up to the usual standard. The issue was the Frangipane, it was too thick for the pie, while the filling was lacking. I would definitely recommend Blacker Hall for your Christmas delights, but you might want to give these pies a miss.

Jamie’s Festive Rating: 1.5/5

Special Mention: Asda’s Mince Pie Cookies

I found these cookies almost by accident when I was shopping for my lunch, and I have not been able to find them since my first and only packet. Ostensibly a cookie with a delightful gingerbread flavour and texture, in the middle a small bulge hides a sweet filling which works perfectly with the rest of the cookie. I am not ashamed to say I have been popping into Asda whenever I get the chance to try and find them again, but to date I have found not managed to find them again. Alas the search continues…

Jamie’s Festive Rating: 4.9/5 (nothing’s perfect, but these cookies are damn close)

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