Shopping around - mince pies
If we have to contend with the negatives of the Christmas season – crowds of frenzied shoppers and consumer pressure – it is only fair that we get to enjoy some of the positives too, like munching on mince pies. They are a divisive festive treat though – you either love them or hate them. If you don't like fruit cakes, tea bracks and brandy in your coffee, you may find the medieval spices used in them an acquired taste.
For me, that special blend of mincemeat and shortcrust pastry is inextricably tied to Christmas. Making your own is best if you want to fill the house with that aroma but there are also many excellent ready-made versions on the market – Aldi's six pack, €2.49, recently beat luxury brands such Harrod's and Selfridges in a blind taste test. Here are three more of the best.
LIDL Snowy Lodge 6 mince pies
verdict: These pies are big and chunky, with a deep filling and pretty holly-shaped decorations on top. The shortcrust pastry is thick and deliciously buttery. A more substantial-feeling offering than the other two. Per pie you get 223 calories, 2g of protein, 18g of sugar and 8.9g of fat.
TESCO Finest 6 deep filled all butter pastry mince pies
verdict: Part of Tesco's luxury range, this selection has the best pastry of the three sampled here – light and crumbly with a dusting of sugar. They look pretty too, but it's the filling that impresses – the vine fruits given body with courvoisier VS Cognac, brandy and port. Per pie you get 260 calories, 3.2g of protein, 22g of sugar and 9.6g of fat.
SUPERVALU Signature Tastes 6 Whiskey Mince Pies
verdict: Not as pretty as the other two on the decorative front but these mince pies make up for it with their taste – thin, light and buttery pastry with just a hint of whisky in the filling. Per pie you get 247 calories, 2.2g protein, 25.1g sugar and 9.2g fat.