In part one of our comprehensive survey of the mince pie options available this festive season, we saw the luxuriousness of the Glenfiddich infused pies score well for flavour, while the homemade variety achieved top marks for Christmas joy and philosophical statement. The other two, Tesco’s Finest mini-mince pies and Hell and Hatey, well the less said the better.
Now, in part two, we review three more popular pies, plus one wildcard, and we reveal the best mince pie of 2014.
6 Deep Mince Pies – Christmas by Sainsbury’s
DP: Looks, standard. Holly on top, reeeeally put a lot of thought into that one, guys. Kind of sets the tone for the whole pie; safe. But of course it is. It’s the standard pie from one of the big supermarket chains. Hundreds or thousands, maybe even millions will be eaten, probably can’t get away with putting a vodka bottle on it (the true spirit of Christmas). Hard to say much. It’s just… safe.
DK: A mince pie is essentially a tiny pastry house inhabited by fruits and spices. With that metaphor firmly planted in your mind, the box of Sainsbury’s pies is like a suburban street, row upon row of identical, blandly attractive pies. There’s nothing wrong with these pies, the pastry to filling ratio works fine, and the general taste is acceptable, but they’re so pedestrian you’ll be too bored to finish more than, say, eleven in one sitting.
Mr. Kipling Exceedingly Merry 6 Mince Pies
DK: The importance of brand recognition cannot be overstated. Mr. Kipling’s “exceedingly merry” mince pies are probably selling quite well, because we all trust Kipling, right? Sure, good old trusty worthy Mr. Kipling. Except the pies are exactly the same as the Sainsbury’s offering. You sit on a throne of lies, Mr. Kipling.
DP: Are these coming from the same factory as the Sainsbury ones?! They cost 90p a box more than Sainsbury’s and taste exactly the same. It’s even got holly on the top. You’re a mug if you buy these. You’re paying for the name.
Tesco Merry Christmas 6 Mince Pies
DP: Solid. Good consistency in the casing: crumbly but not too crumbly, soft but not too soft. Filling is good, too: sweet but not too sweet, sticky but not too sticky. It’s all almost… too good. So good it’s kind of unremarkable. Nothing stands out, it just slides down your throat and out of existence, out of memory. Dissolved, like tear drops in the rain. Quite possible to eat one, black out, and wake up hours later on the floor surrounded by crumbs and 3 empty trays of pies. Or so I’m told.
DK: Ah, Tesco, so cheap, so cheerful, so unassuming. But wait! These sweet, simple pies are actually perfectly built parcels of Christmas joy. Everything about them, from the shape, to the texture to the filling density, is designed to be good but not too good. And rather than the end result being average, it’s just plain satisfying. And this is what makes these pies so dangerous, because I literally haven’t stopped eating them.
**WILDCARD!** Sainsbury’s 4 Butter Enriched Short Crust Mince Pies **WILDCARD!**
DK: One bite of this saucer-shaped sand castle and all the moisture was sucked out of my body. I am now dead. Thanks a lot, Sainsbury’s.
DP: A possible all-things-to-all-people kind of pie, this claims to be handmade, but is from a supermarket. Can they apply their business acumen to make pies of the same quality as a homemade pie, but in huge numbers? No. No they can’t. Way too dry. Just biscuit. Mouth full of biscuit. Airways filling. Light fading. Not like this. Not like this…
So there you have it, the lowdown on the mince pies of 2014. The best mince pie is the homemade ones because of their mix of good taste and all round decency. But obviously you can’t buy them, so in a way, this whole exercise was pointless, especially when you consider that a pie you make at home will taste different to the homemade pie we had. Oh well.
A run down of the rest: Glenfiddich are the best tasting, great if you’ve got the money and time for them; Tesco and Sainsbury are the safe choice; Mr Kipling is the idiot’s choice; Tesco Finest Mini pies are great for gatherings of people you’re indifferent to; Hale and Hearty mince pies are actual anti-Christmas.