I don’t like mince pies. Frankly, if they’re so great, why do we only eat them once a year?
Yes, they’re steeped in tradition and for many, Christmas isn’t the same without one (or fifty). But alongside a seasonal cake and pudding, any mincemeat amalgamation is always on my no-go list. You can spice it up, bury it in ice cream, drown it in alcohol, wrap it in pastry – hell you can even set fire to it if you like – and yet it still looks like a graveyard for flies.
With the Christmas season firmly upon us, I’m forced to consider a teatime alternative. After all, tis-the-season and despite the staggering 370 million mince pies purchased in Britain last year, it turns out I’m not the only one looking for a substitute.
Turn the recipe clock back a few centuries, however, and the numbers might have stacked rather differently. It’s not hard to guess the origins of the snack: various meats were combined with spices and fruits, rising in popularity during the medieval period, until the introduction of cheap sugar saw them become sweeter in the 18th century. By the time Mrs Beeton’s classic Household Management was published in 1861, only one included meat.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and fellow raisin haters will be pleased to hear that an increasing number of alternative ranges are appearing on our shelves, from Hotel Chocolat’s Alternative Mince Pies, to Mr Kipling’s Seasonal Winter Warmers. Hallelujah!
Of course for the ultimate Christmas teatime treat, and a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, there’s only one way to do it properly – and that’s to have a go yourself. To get you started here are a couple of recipes, including a salted pear caramel number and fruitier take on the traditional mince pie. After all it is the season for eating. I mean, giving.
Article updated Nov 2020