Sunday, 30 October 2016

2016 - Heston [Blumenthal] from Waitrose - 4 Spiced Shortcrust Mince Pies with a Lemon Twist

We haven't really seen or heard much of Heston Blumenthal recently, so when I saw these on the shelf in Waitrose, I think I let out an uncontrollable squeal of joy. HESTON IS BACK! He's been busy in the kitchen with Waitrose coming up with these and a number of other Christmas related treats. My review of Heston's previous mince pies is the most viewed review to date. Can these new ones upstage the old in every way?

Presentation - 4 / 10

Heston's presentation of these mince pies are a marked improvement from the previous mince pie (we'll call it the Original for ease), but still nowhere near what I'd call Christmas-esq. At least this box has a picture of a holly on it. As for the lemon rowing a boat (a phrase I thought I'd never write), I believe thats Heston/Waitrose photographic rendition of what is in the box. These are described as, "An inspired combination of two great classics; a spiced shortcrust pastry mince pie and lemony sussex pond pudding, topped with a buttery crumble for added texture."

The mince pies are sealed in a plastic wrap. The moment I ripped into them, the smell of the spiced mince pies instantly filled the room and reminded me of the Original mince pies. As for the mince pies themselves, they almost look like mini apple crumbles. They are very well dusted with what I would like to assume is icing sugar but, as these are Heston mince pies, is probably Sussex pond pudding flavoured powder!

Nutritional Content & Price - 5 / 10

For £3.00 these will get you just 4 mince pies. Not great value for money, but from a 3 Michelin stared chef, it's probably just about palatable... get it? :-D.

These are not a regular shaped mince pie, maybe a little larger than most, so it's no surprise that these are on the high side. 8.9g of fat, 25.4g of sugar and 255 calories a pie.

Pastry - 35 / 35

I hate to say it but the pastry is the same as the Original ones. However, in my eyes, Heston and Waitrose had reached mince pie pastry perfection with the Originals. So, using a moto I tend to live by, if it's not broken, don't fix it! But wait, I hear you say... maybe these should be different. These are, after all, meant to be different mince pies to the Original ones and maybe Heston and Waitrose should have tried something new rather than being lazy and rehashing an existing mince pie. Whichever way you look at it, this is incredible pastry. It is crumbly, lightly spiced and sweetish. The crumble on top is literally melt in the mouth stuff packed full of butter.

Mincemeat - 28 / 35

This is where these differ from the Original ones. Concentrating on the mince pie element for the moment; the mincemeat is largely purée with only really a light scattering of whole currants or sultanas. However, it does taste very nice. Hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices all come through nicely. 

Moving on the marketed "lemon twist" and the Sussex pond pudding half of the filling. I must admit, it has been a long time since I've had a Sussex pond pudding, but my recollection is that it is largely just sugar and a lot of lemon on a buttery sponge. These mince pies definitely have a stronger lemon taste than the Original ones, but I think it's just through the addition of more lemon curd (an ingredient I noticed in the Original's too). I would say these are no more tangy or lemony than this years' M&S' mince pies. It is certainly not a criticism, but for someone who likes tangy mincemeat, I sort-of hoped to be gurning after a bite of these!

Overall Satisfaction - 8 / 10

I think the "lemon twist" and the Sussex pond pudding elements of this mince pie is largely just very clever marketing. Yes, you can taste the elements of a Sussex pond pudding, but that's only because a mince pie shares those main key elements of it. What Heston and Waitrose have done differently, is just ramp up those existing flavours in the mince pie so they become more noticeable. Nevertheless, putting the marketing aside, these are very very tasty mince pies and while I've had them cold (you know the rules), I can imagine 10-12 mins in the oven and they will be to die for. In fact, forget imagining, I have 3 more to eat!

OVERALL SCORE - 80 / 100

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