Thursday, 8 November 2012

Heston Blumenthal (made for Waitrose) - Spiced Shortcrust Mince Pies

An unexpected treat from my sister who picked these interesting mince pies up from Waitrose. Does Heston's recipe live up to his 3 Michelin-starred status?

The Facts

I will admit, there was an air of excitement when I saw these. After watching his television shows and seeing the bizarre, surprising and interesting array of meals and desserts he concocts in his kitchen-come-laboratory, I was expecting something special. That was answered after I read the front of the box; "Dreaming of a white Christmas? My moreish mince pies come with a sachet of tangerine flavoured sugar for dusting on top". Lets get the boring stuff out the way - 289 calories, 9.8g fat and 32.9g of sugar (wow that's a lot!).

First Impressions

Once I managed to get into the box that was sealed like Fort Knox, I was met with 4 large biscuit-like mince pies sprinkled with shavings of almonds and a sachet of tangerine flavoured sugar. As soon as you open the sealed plastic wrapping around these pies you can instantly smell sweet and citrus fruits emanating from them.

Now, I thought about having these cold to keep some level of consistency in my reviews, despite the box saying these are best served warm, but then I thought, "These are Heston Blumenthal mince pies - there could be something special I'm missing by not heating them up. Maybe they grow in the oven into mini Christmas trees, or when I sprinkle the tangerine sugar on top of a heated pie I see mini fireworks!". With thoughts along these lines, I cranked the oven up to 160 degrees and stuck in a couple of these pies for about 10 minutes.

The Bite

As these were heating up, the smell was amazing. Once done, I set up my video camera clicked record and sprinkled the tangerine sugar on top. Alas, there was nothing magical about the sugar or the mince pies, but the overall image was very impressive. Although it did not look like a traditional mince pie, it definitely felt like Christmas with the smell, and the sugar sprinkled on top resembling snow.

I decided to cut mine in half to see what lay inside (still hoping for a little Heston magic!). Inside was a good layer of mincemeat on very thin pastry at the top and bottom. You may be wondering why the shortcrust pastry is that colour and that maybe I have burnt it, but I think its been made with brown sugar rather than normal sugar, but I'm probably wrong. The bulk of the pastry was around the edges in that thick crust.

As I bit into this mince pie, I instantly loved it. The all-butter pastry is amazing and what I think is brown sugar, makes this taste very different from the usual shortcrust pastry. It was nice and crumbly around the edges, leaving a soft center where the mincemeat lay.

The mincemeat was also fantastic, there was nothing extravagant about it, just a simple recipe with some very subtle but noticeable additions. The mince pies that try to be a bit posh will pour loads of alcohol into it; this has none. This has a slight zesty, tangy and nutty taste to it which compliments the sweetness of the mincemeat and pastry brilliantly. The tangerine sugar may be a bit of a gimmick but its a nice addition and does still taste like tangerine. I guess if you sprinkled more on your mince pie it would become more noticeable.

As you can see below, my sister decided to eat it like a mini-pizza and after her first bite, it buckled in on itself due to the softer center.


The lack of anything stranger than having to sprinkle a topping on a mince pie was a little disappointing, but it does not detract from the fantastic tasting mince pie this is. Even after eating the taste lingers in your mouth a little longer than most. It's also not a bad looking mince pie either; a little different from the traditional, but a good modern take. I do appreciate that I have heated this mince pie up before eating, unlike others, but I think this would still be my favourite this year so far.

"Elementary, my dear pie!"


If you have tried this mince pie and have a different thought please do share it below in the comments.