Are you sick of the mince pies yet? No of course not, I'm sure you've been much more sensible and waited much longer before giving into to the festive treats.
I'm obviously not either, given that this is the fifth review so far this season -and that's excluding yesterday's mince pie ice cream! I'm not sure I'll be up for the Twelfth night mince pie tradition promising of a full year's happiness come Christmas itself though (please let me know if you have the stamina after all the festive feasting and brave it)!
Of course so far we've seen the disappointing individual pie, award winning pies, chocolate orange pies and the salted caramel pies. Today marks the turn of M&S' frangipane mince pies -yes it's yet another twist on the classic! What will they think of next year? I do love a good frangipane tart, but don't buy them often as I find them too moreish and could easily devour 2 or 3 in one sitting. I knew I'd regret not trying these mince pie versions though, so I stumped up the comparatively pricey sum of £2.50 for 6 (although they are on a 2 for £4 offer).
"All butter shortcrust pastry cases filled with mincemeat and topped with almond frangipane and flaked almonds."
They looked much smaller than the other mince pies I've tried this year, but I knew I wouldn't mind if the taste was up to scratch. They were attractive too with their smattering of flaked almonds. Helping matters further was the combined bakewell-esque aroma mixed with the mixed spices emanating from the mincemeat within -to me the fusion was utterly enticing.
The instructions refrained to mention whether or not it was possible to heat the pies in the microwave, but the box did say "heat to eat" and informed me to bake them in the oven for 8-10 minutes (gas mark 4/180c). The wait was excruciating, especially as the pies started to fill my house with the most heavenly scent. Mmm.
After 8 treadmill-like minutes, the wait was up and I retrieved my almond topped pie from the oven. Both the pastry and frangipane was soft and crumbly, which made it rather messy to cut into -especially as the mincemeat oozed out simultaneously. I can't mark M&S down for this though, as I can't imagine many people cut into their pies unless they're silly and photographing them.
The pastry was thin but deliciously buttery, and I imagine it would make for a good traditional lidded mince pie. The mincemeat was well spiced, whilst the currants, sultanas and raisins were plump and juicy. We've heard this story before of course with the Iceland mince pies. Could the frangipane edge the M&S offerings into the extraordinary level of Christmas scrumminess?
Yes, it did. The frangipane was sheer perfection, and complimented the mincemeat and pastry wonderfully. I was pleased to find that the almond tasted completely natural, and shone through despite the spiciness of the filling. It was moist too, which can often be the stumbling block of lesser quality and/or long life frangipanes. The trouble is, I've already mentioned how my self-control is lacking with frangipane tarts -and that I can easily eat multiple mince pies in one go- so I think I'm going to have to ask my fiance to lock these away from me!
Bravo M&S, true ingenuity! It's another well deserved 10/10 from the premium supermarket this Christmas from me.