February 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Where to Buy a Better Mince Pie – a Guest Post by Miss Becki Rawle

With Christmas fast approaching, we thought that here in the office it would only be right for us to start the annual mince pie testing…all for the benefit of those reading this of course! And, with such a wide range of mince pies on offer, it is good to know which ones to buy and which ones to avoid, so selflessly we have worked our way through fourteen different boxes - trying each variety with our morning cups of tea (and with our afternoon tea as well if the mince pie was particularly nice!) – judging them in terms of the following criteria:

- Filling Taste     
- Filling amount      
- Pastry     
- Size
- Price      
- Overall rating out of 10

Not so extra special…..We kick started the testing with the Co-op’s regular mince pies along with their ‘Truly Irresistible’ range - both of these had a very average overall rating of 5/10 whereby the filling in the regular mince pies was actually preferred to the filling in the more expensive ones. That said, the pastry was slightly better when it came to the more expensive of the two. We concluded that the Co-op would have been better off combining the mince meat from the regular mince pies with the pastry from the ‘Truly Irresistible’ range and yet, felt that even then, they wouldn’t have achieved more than a 6/10. Sainsbury’s Deep-filled Mince Pies were another disappointment amongst us office folk; only attaining a collective 5/10 - the taste of the pastry and mince meat proving very bland, plus there was very little content. ASDA’s ‘Extra Special’ version wasn’t much of a hit either; especially compared to their ‘Chosen By You’ range and scored rather mediocre 5 or 6/10. Though the filling amount was good, the taste of the pastry and mince meat was just not up to scratch – a far cry from the ‘Chosen By You’ alternative which was rich-tasting and fruity, thus, given an impressive 8 or 9/10 all round. Naturally we had high expectations for the ‘Extra Special ‘mince pies after being so taken with ASDA’s ‘Chosen By You’ variety – though unfortunately they were not met.

One of the most disappointing mince pies that we sampled was Morrison's ‘Deep-Filled’ six-pack which were in fact, only two-thirds full with mince meat (if you were lucky!) Furthermore, the pastry was very bland; the sugar-crusted lid specifically, which encouraged an almost stale disposition rather than the soft, buttery taste that the pastry of a mince pie should possess. Tesco’s range was slightly above average; each pie suitably full to the brim with mince meat which was a big thumbs up within the group. On the other hand, the flavour of the mince meat wasn't that special and its viscosity was poor; resulting in a run-down-the-chin disaster.

To try something a little different we tested Marks and Spencer's puff pastry mince pies which were notably abysmal, especially given the usual standard on offer within the M&S food hall. Here, there was very little mince meat to speak of - probably about one tea spoons worth in each - so it was essentially like eating puff pastry on its own which wasn’t particularly appetising and definitely not worth the £4-for-two-packs price tag!
Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' Brandy Rich Mini Mince Pie
As a treat we tried Sainsbury’s ‘Taste The Difference’ Brandy Rich mini mince pies as well as their ‘Mince Pie Tart Selection’ which were altogether well-received in the office. Though both were fairly expensive at £2 per box, the brandy rich mince pies were full of flavour and described as 'tasting like Christmas'. They also had just the right amount of brandy in the mince meat so not to overpower the other flavours in the mix. The tart selection was made up of; Ecclefechan & Mincemeat, Cranberry & Clementine and  Maple & Pecan Mincemeat; the latter proving a personal favourite and a good festive alternative to the traditional mince pie. Marks and Spencer also did a very tasty all-butter mini mince pie selection which really did have the authentic buttery-tasting pastry that we all love, although they were a little too mini and if I wasn't worried about maintaining a lady-like poise, they could have been quite easily consumed in one bite!

Maple and Pecan Mini Mincemeat Pie
Lidl Deep-Fill Mince Pies were very good value for money at £1.89 for a box of 12 but the only downfall was that they were slightly smaller than the average mince pie. ALDI definitely came out on top with both their ‘Regular Deep-Fill’ Mince Pies at 99p and their Luxury Mince Pies at £1.46. Both of these had high ratings for all of the aforementioned categories; though, the regular ones did have the edge and at only 99p you really can’t go wrong…

So to sum up the results of the office mince pie testing, the average ratings out of 10 are as follows, (starting with the most popular):
ALDI Deep-Fill Mince Pies - 9/10
ALDI Luxury Mince Pies - 8.5/10
Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Tart Selection - 8.5/10
ASDA Chosen By You - 8.5/10
Marks and Spencer All Butter Mini Mince Pies - 8/10
Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Brandy Rich Mini Mince Pies - 7.5/10
Lidl Deep-Fill Mince Pies - 7.5/10
Tesco Mince Pies - 7/10
ASDA Extra Special - 5.5/10
Sainsbury's Deep-Fill Mince Pies - 5/10
Co-op Truly Irresistible Mince Pies - 5/10
Co-op regular Mince Pies - 4.5/10
Morrison’s Deep-Fill Mince Pies - 4/10
Marks and Spencer Puff Pastry Mince Pies - 3/10

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Mini Cranberry and Clementine Mince Pie

*Follow Becki on Twitter: @b_k_i

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