Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Stove on Sunday: Heston's Pine Scented Mince Pies

As far as I'm concerned as soon as Halloween and Bonfire night are out of the way you have free reign to begin  building up to Christmas.  In fact, I, like many, am far more enamoured with the anticipation of it's arrival, the festive activities, foods, smells, tastes and sounds than the actual day.  So I hereby declare this the first official festive post of the season.

I have an obsession with Heston Blumenthal's experimental menus but as we all know they come with a fairly hefty price tag.  Luckily for us, Waitrose's collaboration with him has continued this year, meaning we can sample some extraordinary dishes at a mass market price.  Cast your mind back to last years Heston's Orange-Filled Christmas Pudding fiasco for example-they were like gold dust.  My Christmas pudding connoisseur mother was devastated she never found one.  (Do not fear, we have three stocked away for this year already-we take Christmas puddings very seriously in my house!)

Whilst my mother begins sampling Christmas puddings from every supermarket and deli in the local area, to ensure we have the best for Christmas Day well in advance (see, serious), my attention is always drawn to the mince pies.  You can imagine, therefore, my excitement when Waitrose started flaunting their Heston Pine Tree Scented Mince Pies.  Mince pies that smell like a forest of Christmas Trees.  Swoon!  I was even more thrilled when, without even voicing my delight, some appeared in our kitchen a few weeks ago, courtesy of the mother.

They didn't last five minutes, obviously, as I was dying to try them and self-control has never been one of my finer points.  The box contains six mince pies and a sachet of pine scented icing sugar.  Essentially it's the icing sugar that contains the magic ingredient, as opposed to the actual mince pie.  The instructions highlight that the mince pies should be warmed in the oven and then sprinkled with the icing sugar in order for them to reach their maximum potential.

They did exactly what they said on the tin but there were a few things that I found a little disappointing.  The mince pies aesthetically aren't that attractive and resemble more of a sausage roll.  The wow factor is of course the scent, which would be ideal for parties but personally I feel the presentation lets them down a little.  I would probably think twice about serving these up at a Christmas soiree based on looks alone.  The mince to pastry ratio was also a little off and there was definitely more mincemeat required.  The ingredients used for Heston's mincemeat are fairly unique and high end (lemon curd, apple puree and rose water), for a mince pie, so it would have been wonderful to be able to identify those.  Waitrose and Heston are both synonymous to luxury and although the concept is most definitely indulgent the flavour, due to too much puff pastry, was basic in my opinion.  However, as a consumer we're really buying into the gimmick of the pine scent, of which there was a definite Christmas Tree aroma as we brought them into the living room.   The smell, of course, captured Christmas and en mass served on a plate at a party would be magical.

If you get the chance to pick some up, do, as they're such a fun and quirky slant on mince pies that add an extra special touch to any festive meal but don't expect your taste buds to be wowed.  If possible I'd actually recommend stocking up on a few packets for the pine scented icing sugar alone and instead sprinkle over a tried and tested luxury mince pie of your choice.

*Image taken from

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