Everyone has their favourite brand of mince pie. But would you be able to pick yours out of a line-up? Why not host your own mince pie taste test and find out?!
We love this fun, tasty festive activity. It’s the perfect multi-generational entertainment for a lazy afternoon when you want to hunker down at home. Suitable for all group sizes, it is completely covid-secure as well of course! We’ll explain how to set up the taste test so that everyone (even the organiser can join in), and we’ve even got a free printable scorecard ready for you to use.
This article focuses on our original, tried-and-tested mince pie taste test. However, it doesn’t just have to be mince pies that stand trial! There are no end of Christmas foods that warrant the full examination in our opinion … yule logs, pigs-in-blankets or even festive crisp flavours to name but a few. (And yes, okay, we admit it’s mainly so we can justify eating more of them.)
the two areas of taste test focus
In our opinion, there are two key parts to a mince pie taste test:
- Rating the mince pies individually to see which is favourite. Not to get too Paul Hollywood about it, but it’s the aroma, texture and ratio of pastry to filling, as well as the all-important flavour.
- Guessing which mince pie came from which supermarket. Can you spot a ‘high-end’ pie when the packaging has been removed?!
Both aspects are equally important, and just as fun. But we warn you: you’ll never look at a mince pie in quite the same way again!
So, here’s how to host a Jolly Festive Mince-Pie Taste Test:
Note: The tricky bit is to set up the taste test in such a way that even the person laying the pies out can join in. Of course, if you have enough participants, one person could opt to be the organiser for a truly blind test. However, our method below should ensure that everyone can join in the fun without too much of an advantage for any one person.
What you’ll need
- Mince pies(!) – see the box below for more details
- Plates or festive napkins – as many as you have types of mince pie, ideally all identical to avoid accidental assistance!
- Scissors, sellotape, sharp knife
- Piece of paper, cut into the same number of pieces as you have types of mince pie.
- Glasses of water for all (or mulled wine if you’d prefer … this is for fun after all, not Which? magazine!)
- Lots of pens
- A Jolly Festive scorecard for each participant
Let’s Talk Mince Pie Selection
Collect together as many different brand packets of mince pies as you can.
We recommend sticking to the standard offering from each supermarket for the traditional test. But feel free to add the all-butter and other indulgent varieties to see how they compare. Why not include some homemade pies, or ones from your local bakery as well?
Or, as an alternative approach to the taste test described here, you could specifically select the more unusually flavoured mince pies, and try and guess the extra ingredients in each.
How to set up the mince pie taste test
1. for each packet
- Take a couple of mince pies and cut them into equal pieces. We’d recommend six pieces per pie: partly because mince pie is very rich but also the smaller pieces help to disguise any distinctive styling to the top of the pie. Do make sure each piece has a good amount of both pastry and filling.
- Place the pie pieces on a plate or napkin.
- Cut out a piece of the packaging with the brand name (and variety if necessary) and stick it with sellotape to the bottom of the plate.
- Place the finished plate on a table.
2. when all the plates are ready
- Ask someone else to muddle the plates up whilst you are looking away. [If you have an non-participating organiser, you can skip this step.]
- Count the total number of plates and cut a sheet of paper into that many pieces.
- Write each number, from one to the total, on a different piece of paper.
- Place one number on each of the plates. [Again, we would recommend doing this in a random fashion in order to give one final mix-up to the pies.]
- Line the packets of mince pies used up somewhere visible so that everyone can see the contenders, or prepare a list to place in the middle of the table if you’d prefer.
- Hand everyone a pen, scorecard and glass of water (or wine!) and get busy tasting!
Note: Depending how enthusiastic you are about mince pie munching, you may have a few more pies leftover than you can eat. The good news is that mince pies have a long shelf-life (we recommend checking dates on purchase to get the pies with the longest time to consume). In addition, some store-bought mince pies can be frozen (check the labels). And, if you do end up with a mince pie or two to spare, they are a great food to throw out for the birds.
Jolly Festive’s Mince Pie Taste Test Scorecard
Here’s our free printable scorecard to use for your taste-test. Good for up to ten mince pie contenders.
Download your A4 printable here (two scorecards per sheet):
We’d love to know which mince pie brand was the winner in your taste test. Share your results in the comments below. Which other festive foods have you given the taste-test treatment?