Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Heston Blumenthal (made for Waitrose) - Puff Pastry Mince Pies with Pine Sugar Dusting

After much questioning as to whether I would try "the other Heston mince pie", I have finally made my way to a Waitrose to pick up a box. Can Heston's pies take the top two spots on my leader board?

The Facts

I'm going to keep this section brief. I know you just want to know whether they will beat the shortcrust version.

Heston says "My mince pies are delicious eaten warm from the oven and then sprinkled with pine sugar for a Christmas tree aroma." I don't really associate Christmas with the smell of Pine as we've never had a real Christmas tree. My parents bring out the same plastic tree every year and have done so for the past 27 years (I should also say that the same decorations and lights have been used for the same number of years too!)

Box is not in the slightest bit "Christmassy". What does X-raying stuff have to do with Christmas?

These have 206 calories, 10.6g of fat, 11g of sugar and a box of 6 will cost you £3.29 (but at the time I bought these they were on special offer with 25% off, making a box  £2.46)

First Impressions

These look appetising, but not as a Christmas desert. It looks like something I would find in Greggs and have for lunch with a Belgian bun. There was a subtle pine aroma that came from the pies as I unwrapped them.

I kept my expectations of any Heston wizardry very low after last time, and so there was not as much excitement when I opened these!

The box states on numerous occasions that this needs to be heated, so once again, much to the delight of our energy company, we cranked up the oven to 160 Celsius and put in a couple of these for 10 to 12 minutes.

They came out looking much the same as when they went in. They were well cooked before and so the oven simply heated them up and crisped up the top layer of the pastry. 

I opened the pine sugar sachet and sprinkled it all over. I got a whiff of the sugar as I tore open the sachet as it puffed out at me. It was quite strong and it definitely smelt like pine. As I sprinkled I noticed that there were little green bits in with the sugar. I hope this is not actual pine leaves, chopped finely.

The Bite

The puff pastry is excellent, crispy, light and flaky, just how this type of pastry is meant to be, but it lacked any sweetness. It was entirely savoury.

The mincemeat was moist and complimented the dryness from the pastry very well, but again, it lacked any sugar. The mincemeat relied entirely upon its own natural flavour in the fruit for any sweetness, which just isn't enough. I felt there was a lack of mincemeat in there too. There wasn't a gaping hole where mincemeat should have been, there was just no room for any more - the pastry took all that up. I guess if they made it larger, the problem would remain.

I had sprinkled the pine sugar on quite sparingly as I had to leave some for the other 4 pies left in the tray. I thought maybe the lack of sweetness was because the pine sugar was meant to balance it out. So, I poured on more. How wrong was I! I couldn't really taste the pine sugar after my first sprinkling, but I definitely could after the second. The pine flavour was very overwhelming and certainly not something I enjoyed. As I said, I don't associate the pine aroma with Christmas. I associate it with air fresheners. Like the ones you leave in your bathroom and car. Therefore I was not pleased when I was now tasting this.


Heston's puff pastry mince pies, does exactly what it says on the box. You're getting what you pay for. The pastry is perfect. It's just that what you will taste is not something you are likely to like. The 11g of sugar in these just isn't enough, and while many people will associate the pine aroma with their Christmas tree, I'm sure they didn't then go on to eat it.
So, sorry Heston, swing and a miss. You tried to be different. It worked for the shortcrust mince pie, it has not worked here.

"If my calculations are correct, when this oven hits 160C... you're gonna see some serious shit."

2.2 / 5

If you gnaw on your pine Christmas tree and enjoyed these mince pies, let me know below!