Monday, 28 October 2013

Fortnum & Mason - Six Traditional Christmas Mince Pies

Yes, that's right mincers, the (non-existent) revenue generated from reviewing mince pies has resulted in the Administration being able to splash out on some very posh mince pies for your viewing pleasure. We braved the gale force winds and torrential rain and arrived at the doors of the most well decorated supermarket in the country. You know you have walked into an upper class world when their staff are better dressed than you are. With the worry of being thrown out for wearing trainers, jeans and a rain jacket, I quickly found the mince pies and left. Let's see if you really do get better quality when you spend more.

Presentation - 7

I was surprised that it did not take me long to find these. Most of the items in the store have that same metallic red shine to their packaging. Coupled with the lack of any visible signage, everything looked the same through the sea of tourists. I guess when you love mince pies as much as me, you are naturally drawn to wherever they are!

The design is very simple in traditional Christmas colours of red and gold. The windowed box shows beautifully baked, large mince pies sitting in a tray made from gold card, rather than the usual plastic tray. I liked that the gold card tray inside had raised sides which I could only decipher as something to assist in strengthening the sides of the box to prevent potential squashing.

Looking at the mince pies from outside, you think they are large - wait till you take one out. These are massive. Deep filled mince pie makers take note; THESE are what you call deep filled! To give you mincers a comparison, I have photographed it next to a regular Waitrose mince pie that was remaining from the previous review.

Nutritional Content & Price - 1

There is no nutritional information on the box or anywhere on the Fortnum & Mason website. This is disappointing. Yes, the nutritional information is optional, but in this current health conscious world, most people are counting calories.

However, If you are willing to pay a whopping £12.95 for 6 mince pies, then nutritional content, is not high on your list of worries. That's £2.15 per mince pie - much more than your average box of 6 from any other supermarket.

The only saving grace is that you get a good 150g more in a box than your regular mince pies making each box 500g. That extra weight is definitely noticeable when you pick one of these boxes up.

Pastry - 29

The pastry is perfectly cooked all around. It has a nice golden brown colour on top and at the bottom. I was expecting such a large mince pie to be pastry heavy, but it surprisingly felt quite even. The pastry is not too thick all around and crumbles really nicely. It almost feels like it crumbles to a powder, but it still manages to hold it's shape.

What is interesting about this mince pie is that there appears to be another layer of pastry sitting on the mincemeat inside. This piece is not crumbly, but rather a little uncooked and soggy and made the rest of the pie feel this way. Maybe these mince pies are meant to be baked further. The lack of any instructions on the box doesn't help.

The flavour itself is nice, it is not too sweet despite the sugar granules on top and it is most definitely butter rich. However, I cannot taste the Cognac Butter in the pastry - which is where I assume it would be.

Mincemeat - 30

This is another mincemeat filling I could eat out of a jar - but I would have to breathalyse myself after a few spoonfuls if I intend to drive, as this is where you're going to find the Cognac! They have clearly used quality ingredients. The mincemeat is moist, sweet and tangy. I have always liked a good sour flavour and the lemon really shines. The taste of the brandy comes through so well, and is not over-powering; it compliments that lemon brilliantly. Most brandy rich mince pies leave a bitter after-taste, but this does not. In fact, I expect you'll be left wanting more, but fret not, these are giant mince pies and there is masses of the stuff!

There is only one little thing I did not like about the mincemeat; and that is it has been almost puréed. The lack of any visible whole currants or raisins or anything else even slightly larger that you can identify is sad.

Overall Satisfaction - 7

The box states that these are "Deep-filled mince pies that suits Fortnum's exclusive Cognac Butter especially well." This suggests to me that they made the mince pies for the Cognac Butter, not the other way around. Were these mince pies a happy accident? Did someone accidentally mix the Cognac with the pastry rather than the mincemeat? Whatever happened, these mince pies are great from start to a very filling finish. I still have to take into consideration the price, and at £2.15 per mince pie, these are hard to swallow and are unlikely to be on many people's Christmas shopping list this year. However, if you have buckets of cash and/or want to show off, these are the ones for you. 

My fellow mincers were pretty divided once again. It appears to be a "marmite mince pie". Either you love it or you hate it!

Here are the scores from my fellow Mincers. 

Tester 1 
Presentation (10) Nutritional content & Price (1) Pastry (10) Mincemeat (14) Satisfaction Level (3)
"Way too much pastry, overpowers the whole pie + drowns the mincemeat. Mincemeat was nice, but rich and sickly whilst quite dry. That don't impress me much! It goes to show that size isn't everything. :-("
Tester 2
Presentation (7) Nutritional content & Price (2) Pastry (28) Mincemeat (30) Satisfaction Level (8.5)
"Pastry lovely, but too much. Double layer not necessary - would have preferred more filling and less pastry."
Tester 3
Presentation (7) Nutritional content & Price (1) Pastry (10) Mincemeat (15) Satisfaction Level (6)
"Expectations too high given the price. not enough filling given the amount of pastry."


56.6 / 100

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