Is it too early for Christmas posts? It might be – but let’s pretend that it’s okay, because I just had to write about these mince pies as soon as I tried them!
Last year I was rather excited to be able to try Heston’s chritmas scented mince pies which were especially out for the festive season. I wasn’t a fan to be honest; the pine scent was a bit of theatrics and ended up smelling more like soap than Christmas trees. This year I see that Mr Blumenthal has stepped away from the pine scent and included a packet of tangerine dust to sprinkle on instead, this sounded a lot more appealing to me!
The box clearly states that there are 4 mince pies in the packet, but I have to say I was expecting them to be smaller and spaced out more, so I was very impressed when I found four huge pies inside. Not only are the pies large in diameter, they are also quite thick. The topping looks amazing too, with some mince showing through a criss-cross of golden pastry and a generous dusting of sliced nuts.
I popped the pies onto plates, and opened up the sprinkles. Unlike the pine scented version everyone in the room said how lovely the aroma was, fresh and citrusy but sweet too. I dusted all the pies and it looked like a light but seasonal dusting of snow on each one. I then tucked in. Oh my, this is something a bit special. I have never eaten anything quite like it before. The texture is spot on, the pastry is firm, but gives easily when bitten, the mince was soft and the almonds just nicely increase the complexity of the texture. The flavour was, in a word, perfection. There are so many tastes working together, the sweet but rich mince, the spices, perfectly balanced cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves all go in harmony with the filling. Then there is the buttery pastry and then the sweet orangey citrus tones, turning very gentle into a sharper twist of lemon. I have never tasted a mince pie this good before. It was pure and simply the taste of Christmas packed into pastry, and every flavour and spice had its place. There are no theatrics just every ingredient working alongside one another.
Sometimes Heston misses; I really didn’t like his sweet and curry flavour popcorn, but sometime Heston hits. To be fair though the word ‘hit’ isn’t anywhere near strong enough for these pies. They are just about the nicest mince pie I have ever eaten, and they are indeed mince pie perfection. I fear Heston may now have ruined other mince pies for me, because I will now continue to compare any I try back to these, and they just won’t come close. This is a total wow product and to leave them until Christmas would mean you are totally missing out!