The Best… Mince Pies?

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It’s coming up to Christmas, and we’re all (sort of) getting in the festive mood. What may perhaps prevent us from getting properly festive is the stress that comes with Christmas – what do I buy and for who? How much can I afford to spend? So, I’ve decided to address a really pressing and important issue, and will hopefully answer the burning question on everyone’s minds – where should I get my mince pies from? (Even if it wasn’t on your mind, it’s still good to know). 

The place by the interchange

If you buy a hot drink, a mince pie is 30p. I thought this was a good deal, but then I saw that the mince pies were quite small. The words “small” and “mince pie” do not go well together. Also the quality varied a lot, when I was selecting my festive treat – some mince pies had excessive amounts of sugar on top, others had none. So, after selecting one of the ones with the most sugar, I sat down a the interchange and munched on the mince pie. The sweetness was not overpowering which was a good sign, and the pastry was not overwhelmingly buttery – another good sign. But, after finishing it (rather quickly), I still felt something was missing – however, for the price, you cannot really complain.

Price: 2/5

Quality: 2/5

Overall: 4/10.

ASDA

ASDA is cheap. This is exactly what we want as students and so I made my way to ASDA to hunt for some mince pies that wouldn’t break the bank (or what’s left of it). Here, I chose two types of ASDA mince pie to sample: Baker’s Selection – x4 for 89p (the ones in those transparent plastic cupcake tubs) and Baker’s Selection (the ones in the box) – x6 for 99p.

Starting with the x4 for 89p: each mince pie was slightly different, which gave the feeling that they hadn’t all been factory made, and at least some human contact had been had with them along the way, which is slightly reassuring. Next, there was just the right amount of sugar on top, but unfortunately some of the filling was spilling over the sides, which did not make for a pretty pie. Channelling my inner Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, I found that the pastry was nice and thick, and not overwhelmingly buttery. My one complaint is that the mince pies were quite shallow and also, there were no pretty shapes on top of the pie. But overall I did like these.

Price: 3/5

Quality: 3/5

Overall: 6/10

Now, for the ASDA 6-pack for 99p. I got the impression these were the more upmarket ones, as not only did they come in a box, but they had a nice little Christmas tree on top. However, the outside of the pastry was so crumbly that it would try to escape its tinfoil casing if I just looked at it. These were overwhelmingly sweet as well – with no hint of spice. Overall, I was not terribly impressed with these.

Price: 4/5

Quality: 2/5

Overall: 6/10

Iceland

Less of student destination, but it does have some really good bargains. Once again, I selected two types of mince pie – x12 for £1.50, the so-called, ‘normal’ mince pies, and then ‘luxury’ x6 for £1.50.

Starting with the dozen for £1.50 – boy, was I impressed with these. The price is excellent, and the quality was a lot better than I was expecting. The pastry was not too crumbly, but also had a nice buttery taste. The filling didn’t have an overly sharp sweetness, and instead there was a subtle hint of spice detectable by my now expert taste buds. The pies even had a Christmas tree shape on top – wonderful.

Price: 5/5

Quality: 4/5

Overall: 9/10

Now, for the ‘luxury’ mince pies. The taste was actually the same as the above, which I was a little bit disappointed with, for some reason the word ‘luxury’ made me think I would be getting more for my money, but maybe that’s just me. I think where the ‘luxury’ actually came in was the thicker pastry – which actually meant there was less filling. Very sneaky Iceland, very sneaky.

Price: 3/5

Quality: 4/5

Overall: 7/10

So, it turns out the unlikely winner was Iceland’s 12 for £1.50 variety of mince pies! Who knew! Having said that, I did have an absolutely wonderful mince pie at the Winchester Christmas market, so if you get a chance to go down there, make sure you do! And these are no substitute for homemade mince pies! Those definitely win every time. Happy mince pie munching everyone!

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Law student at the University of Southampton.

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