We went on a quest to find the best mince pies.
Mince pies are a Christmas staple  for many of us and fall in the  same category as brandy-soaked  Christmas cake.

Even if you don't get to it  immediately after your meaty  feast, your Christmas menu is not  complete without a traditional  sweet treat. T hese mini pies are of  British origin and filled with a sweet  mixture of dried fruit and spices. 

The outer shell is a shortcrust  pastry, which has to be perfect, as it  holds the pie together with a dusting of  icing sugar.

Mince pies can be served hot or  cold and adding a spoon of your  favourite ice cream and cherries will  turn this into a summery, festive  dessert.

With all the retailers' festive foods on full display, we went on a quest to find out whose mince pies were the best. 

Pick & Pay (R34.99) - 5/10

I really wish Pick & Pay had put a bit more effort into their packaging and presentation - it is Christmas after all.

The crust is slightly softer than others and breaks easily, causing more crumbs. These pies are ready to eat and require no heating and that's a plus.

In terms of taste, I got mostly raisin and spicy flavours. Although I had it on its own, I would suggest having these pies with a scoop of ice cream.


Spar (R32.99) - 5/10

Once again, the importance of the pastry is evident here. 

While it should be buttery, soft and crumbly, it shouldn’t break almost immediately after opening the pie from the plastic packaging, which is what happened with this pie. 

The filling was not moist enough and though it wasn't too sweet, I needed to have a drink after having a small piece of the pie because of how dry everything was.

I suggest serving this one warm with cream. It tasted better after I warmed it up in the microwave for a few seconds.

Checkers Blueberry mince pie (R49,99) -  6.5/10

The most important thing in a mince pie is its pastry - it’s what keeps everything together and so, when the pastry is terrible, it just spoils the whole experience.

This particular pastry was soggy. The only saving grace was that it wasn't sweet, because there was no dusting of icing sugar.

I was excited to taste the filling of blueberries, which makes it appropriate for a summer Christmas pie. The filling was not sickeningly sweet, which was a major relief.

If it weren't for the pastry, then it would be really amazing. 

Extra points for the gourmet look and the packaging.

Woolworths (R35,99) - 6/10

Woolworths mince pies come in a range of flavours, including pecan fruit, classic fruit and ClemenGold fruit mince pies.

For the chocolate lovers, there is, of course, a decadent chocolate flavour as well.

I loved the simple yet festive packaging, which makes for a very nice gift.

In true Woolies' fashion, the "delicious shortcrust pastry filled with our exclusive spiced fruit mincemeat, packed with juicy vine fruits and dusted with sugar" is "best served warm".

The shortcrust pastry has a thick, biscuit-like texture, which you can easily bite through, but doesn't easily break apart. I preferred it at room temperature, as warming the mince pie only intensifies its sweetness and enjoyed the flavour combination of the raisins, sultanas and dates.