Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2012 Best Mince Pie championship. This year, the competition was as fiercely contested as the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. In reverse order…
In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade… What the A-Team has done since escaping has been well documented – why they felt the need to leave is what’s important here. Were BA Baracus, Faceman and Murdock served Mr Kipling mince pies back then in the stockade canteen? Has the recipe changed since 1972? I don’t know, but I’m sure that after one bite, Hannibal would have put a plan together to get the A-Team out. Awful.
£1.79 for a box of six
The Co-operative Deep Filled
Too much citrus in the mince. A piece fell onto the carpet and I think it might have left a stain.
£1 for a box of six
Marks & Spencer Luxury Recipe All Butter Mince Pies
Initial impressions here are good. There’s a nicely decorated top, for example, and the mince is tasty. But not all is well with this pie, and I’m going to tell you the sickness that afflicts it. There’s a disappointing air pocket between the top of the mince and the pie’s lid. I tried another. It was the same! And the pastry was too dry.
£2 for two boxes of six
Konditor & Cook
A puzzling pie. I expected so much, but it just didn’t deliver. The fact that this has such a handmade feel should give it opportunity to shine – yet it doesn’t. It’s the only pie here that isn’t deep-filled, and perhaps that’s why it feels as if it should be in a different competition. And at £1 each, are these really three-times better than the Sainsbury’s or Tesco samples later in this list? No, they are not.
Duchy Originals Organic
Charles has been slaving away in the kitchen and has concocted an interesting pastry – the texture is heading off into shortbread territory. And he nearly pulls it off, but the filling is lacking in alcohol. Have you got something to tell us Your Royal Highness?
£3.99 for a box of six
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference
I could taste the difference. A good pie, but not a winner.
£2 for a box of six
Salena Noel’s Homemade
Salena works here at Sunday and was eager to get in on this mince pie action. So she made some. This was the largest pie tested (eaten). She wants me to mention that the mince included sour cherries, cranberries, currents, raisins, apples, prunes, brandy, rum and stout. It was good mince. There are also almonds in the pastry. It was good pastry. Surrounded by mass-produced supermarket fare, this pie shone. Salena also makes really good Ginger Snap biscuits.
Free for me. Well, one was.
Average pastry. But perfect mince. A big mince, not for the faint-hearted. Mince that delivers addictive layers of flavour and rich sensations on the palate, yet it is given with finesse. It’s nicely balanced (though hardcore mince lovers may note a hint of sharpness) – the fruit is forward and there’s an occasional attack of nuts, before the notes of Courvoisier VS Cognac add their irresistible complexity.
£2 for a box of six
The luscious, sugary, alcoholic mince, combined with perfect pastry that’s in a league above the competition (it has the ideal combination of crunchy bite and melt-in-the-mouth flakiness), make this pie my 2012 Best Mince Pie winner.
£2.49 for a box of six
Heston from Waitrose
These are great. They have cinnamon-flavoured, all-butter shortcrust pastry, an interesting mince, flaked almonds on top and a sachet of tangerine-flavoured sugar to sprinkle over them. They’re not included in the competition proper because they are so far removed from the mince pie we know and love, but try them.
£3.29 for a box of four