Every year Christmas is a gamble: where should you get your mince pies from? Will your Christmas party be a feast of legend, or will it be a mass poisoning of Agatha Christie-like proportions?
At Custom PC and bit-tech, we’re used to devising tough benchmarks for PCs, graphics cards and cases – and for six years, on CPC we've used the same rigorous approach we take to testing hardware to testing mince pies, assembling a panel of hungry gastronomic experts-cum-PC journalists to chomp their way through hundreds of mince pies to bring you the answers. This year, we've improved our culinary judgements by adding the expertise of the bit-tech team.
Below you can find out what the joint Custom PC and bit-tech panel thought of ten of Britain's top festive pies. As the mince pie megatest is a staple of Custom PC, now entering its sixth year, over time we've munched our way through hundreds of mince pies. On the final page of this article, we're sharing some of this knowledge with some classic reviews from the archives - enjoy!
Sainsbury's Deep Filled Mince Pies
Price: £1.29 for Six Pictured: Top
We only have one entry from supermarket giant Sainsbury’s this year. There were a lot of screwed up faces as the initial disappointment of the pastry came into contact with the lips of our testers. However, once the horror of the pastry had subsided, we were rewarded with a decent filling. The mince nestling inside the dodgy pastry was tangy, moist and had a particularly seasonal twang. If you were to feeding a group of wheat-intolerant people that planned on discarding the flour-laden casing anyway, then these pies are a winner at just £1.29 for six. However, the poor pastry dropped their score below the 60 per cent barrier.
Click to enlarge
Selfridges Luxury Mince Pies
Price: £5.99 for six Pictured: Second row from top, left
Putting a word such as ‘luxury’ on the box of your mince pies is just asking for trouble. Despite every journalistic fibre of our beings wanting these pies to fail miserably, Selfridges hasn’t done such a bad job. The filling came all the way to the lid, and the pies were of a respectable size. However, this was another pie that was over-zealous with citrus aromas and booze which lost it points amongst our panel of veteran pie judges. Throw in a whopping pound-per-pie price tag and you’re looking at yet another pie to avoid come Chrimbo.
Duchy Originals Organic Mince Pies
Price: £4.49 for four Pictured: Second row from top, right
Duchy Originals, where do we start? Any long-time reader of these tests (or who has caught up with some of the past reviews) will require no introduction to this Royal-backed brand (it was established by HRH The Prince of the Wales in 1990), but we’d like to take a moment to reiterate that we use blind taste-testing so that no preconceptions can alter the scores. Still, for another consecutive year, Duchy Originals were the most despicable pies we’ve had the misfortune to try. The pastry is as brittle as untempered steel, and has about as much flavour. There’s scarcely enough mince filling between the boxful to fill one pie to the top, and what filling there is tastes crunchy and undercooked. Worse, there’s still the weird taste of parmesan or old socks that have afflicted every Ducky pie we’ve tasted to date. We’d be embarrassed to serve these abysmal pies even to people we didn’t particularly like.
M&S Classic Iced Top Mince Pies
Price: £2.99 for six Pictured: Third row from top
We've got a long-standing vendetta against the ice-topped pie. If we wanted to consume this much sugar in one sitting, we’d grab a gardening trowel, a bag of Silver Spoon and tuck in. We’ve tried several different brands of these despicable desserts over the years, and not even M&S could turn this monstrosity of an idea into a delightful delicacy. These were the most passable rendition of ice-topped pies we’ve seen, but the diabetes and epic dentist's bills that may follow consumption will make you regret the purchase, even if the sickly sweet taste doesn’t.
Tesco Finest Mini Mince Pies
Price: £2.99 for 12 Pictured: Bottom row
Mixing it up a little, we opted for the smaller Tesco’s Finest Mini Mince Pies. Packaging 12 wee pies into the box, these finest of Tesco’s pies were filled with some of the best mince filling on test. Sadly, there’s an inherent problem with smaller pies such as these: the ratio of pastry to filling is skewed by the miniature dimensions, resulting in an unsatisfactory experience. This could be amended with the addition of some double cream, and, along with the cute factor, these little morsels are worth a glance if you have multiple mouths to feed over the Christmas period.