The big days but five more days away, and despite yesterdays post suggesting slight disdain at blogging here I am again. Today however in order to preserve my sanity (if that’s at all possible) I thought I would do something different. Instead of reviewing some product or another instead I will do a top of the pops style list feature. But what on you ask, especially if you haven't bothered to read the title. Well Mince pies of course.
This year I have seen a multi-tude of these pastry pals some with some cool topping ideas. Before this year in fact mince pies barely registered with me, unless they are homemade I never got too excited before. Shop bought ones always crumble away and have an odd greasy texture to the pastry. Even without the bad texture I find the pastry shells a bit boring anyway and unfortunately make up the majority of the pie. That's why I like these varieties that I have tried this year as they all have a rather pleasing substitute.
In last place we have no topping, an open tart concept. The only reason I like this one really is because the lack of topping means less pastry and if you’re lucky more filling. Even better is if the pastry base is thin and slightly burnt giving it a crisp rather than crumbly texture.
What about those those use a different kind of pastry? That question was well timed as now I turn to puff pastry mince pies. I don't mind these if I'm honest they are crispy and often sprinkled in sugar that if cooked right has begun to caramelize on top. The only problem is often these can be rather flakey and you end up with most of it down your jumper.
Next is a hazelnut topped pie I tried. Very similar to the tart version this has shredded hazelnut on top which creates a crunchy nut topping. Not as exciting as I had hoped when I saw it but still definitely preferable from the usual pastry. Joint at this position is a Viennese topped pie. With a soft and crumbly biscuit top that was a bit too similar to the normal version but had a nice buttery taste that boosted its ranking.
Now we are somewhat into the elite territory folks. These were my top three that I have seen so far this year. A meringue topped pie was a cool idea and one that worked quite nicely, at first at least. The first few bites were great with the meringue offering a slightly sweet taste and an interesting texture combination. The trouble was it soon fell apart quite literally as the top fell on the floor and I was left with the basic tart.
In second place is a Cherry Bake well type display. Instead of pastry it had a nice iced top with a delightful cherry at its center. This was great as I'm not fond of Bake well’s in general but do enjoy the iced topping and combined with the mincemeat filling I got the best of both worlds. The version I tried was baked to perfect too with the icing cooked into a nicely solid state of being.
My favorite however with no comparison has to be a frangipani mince pie. These are quite frankly amazing. With a sweet almond cake mixture top that has a light and fluffy texture and a sweet flavor. This combines beautifully with the crumbly solid base and gives the whole pie a new feel.
Overall I have found a new lease on mince pies this year by reveling in non-traditional variations.
Mince pies - 7 out of 11
So full no room for thoughts!