We bring you 15 festive teatime treats to see you through the season
Just picture the scene. It’s snowing, it’s dark outside, the fire is crackling, and you’re rubbing your uncomfortably full belly in a futile attempt to digest the literal mountain of Christmas turkey you and yours have just collectively wolfed down in record time. Top work.
Your eyes are getting heavy and you begin to drift away into the land of nod, in front of the Roger Moore-era James Bond movie dad insists on watching every year (Live and Let Die is our favourite).
Just as the sand man welcomes you into his peaceful world of dreams, you hear the kettle go on, which means only one thing. It’s nearly time for mince pies – because you inexplicably need more food right now.
That said, they’re one of the best things about Christmas, these tiny little treats. Plus it’s the only time of year you can justifiably eat spiced fruit encased in shortcrust pastry without getting accusatory sidelong looks from anyone who sees you.
Okay, so the weather isn’t exactly frightful out here, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t throw ourselves face first into a pile of mince pies – our favourite Christmas past time. Thankfully Dubai has a tonne of places where you can fill your face with pastry this Yuletide.
We’ve taken on the quite frankly arduous and definitely altruistic task of getting our taste test on to scientifically decide which mince pies you and your nearest and dearest need to get on your Christmas shopping list this season.
Tis the season, and all that.
Baker and Spice It’s a sort of post-modern-looking mince pie. It’s not your conventional size, but its golden finish might well win an award for the most amount of anticipatory saliva induced in our office (Disclaimer: that’s not a real thing, we won’t be handing out an award for that). Its biscuity crust is satisfying, it’s not too sweet, and you could easily rip your way through this OCD-soothingly arranged 25 pack. Dhs10 each. Various locations including Dubai Marina Promenade (04 362 4686).
Caffé Nero Caffé Nero churns out some brilliant treats, it really does. It may just be our personal taste, but this avant-garde take on the cherished minced pie is something we’re not 100 percent sold on. It has all the hallmarks of the mince pie, except with a crumble-ish topping. It goes down easy if you have a sweet tooth. Dhs16 each. Available at Caffé Nero.
Costa Something of a favourite around Time Out Towers in years gone by, the Costa mince pie is tried-and-tested and they stick to the classic formula well. It’s got a thick and crunchy crust, but doesn’t go overboard on the dough (a term which, from this point on, we shall refer to as “doughverboard”…). Gooey, chewy and a tasty stuffing. Dhs6 per mince pie, Dhs10 for two. Available at Costa.
Galeries Lafayette Le Gourmet This pastry is truly intriguing, and we like it. It’s sort of flaky, not like the classic British shortcrust, but falls short of the overtly puffy nature of puff pastry. Nonetheless, this is a goodun’. Again, one for the sweet toothed among us, but it’s super fruity and a tasty teatime treat. Dhs8 each or Dhs80 for 12. Various locations, including City Walk and The Dubai Mall (04 339 9933).
jones the grocer It doesn’t taste like Christmas, and at this most joyous time of year that’s a miss. But it’s got a suitably thick and crumbly pastry, but it’s perhaps a little too much crust. In fact, we’re bringing it back, they’ve gone doughverboard – however, if you need something to accompany the many litres of tea you’re planning on downing this Crimbo, this might be right up your street. Dhs6 each or Dhs20 for four. Various locations including Emirates Golf Club (04 417 9999).
Lime Tree Café Available in two sizes depending on the needs of your festive gathering, these pies are alright on the whole, swerving the conventional shortcrust crunch for a slightly more squidgy dough variety. This isn’t one for the mince pie purists, for those who hold the tradition dear shan’t enjoy the apricot and exotic fruit filling. It’s tasty, but it’s not what we expected when we opened our mouths… Traditional mince pies: Dhs12 each or Dhs235 for 24. Mini mince pies: Dhs205 for 24. Order online at www.thelimetreecafe.com
Lyon’s Mince Pies Grandma’s classic, sort of like the cherry Bakewell. Grab a box off the shelf, rip ‘em open and sit down with a cup of tea after a busy morning mowing the lawn and getting the garden ready for the arrival of your festive friends. Dhs14. Available at Choithrams.
M&S Food’s All Butter Classic Mince Pies Now this is a ruddy classic. It’s brilliant. With this all-butter mince pie, M&S is doing what M&S does best, and that’s knocking our socks off with the best of British. We’re so glad that extra store opened up in Dubai Marina promenade recently, because we’re going to be semi-permanently camped outside in the build up to Santa’s arrival. These treats are topped with real cane sugar instead of icing sugar, giving it a crunchier edge. In short, a proper mince pie. Dhs25. Available at, well, M&S.
M&S Food’s All Butter Lattice-Topped Mince Pies Almost identical to the aforementioned ruddy classic, but this is one for those who prefer their mince pie with a greater filling to crust ratio. In many ways though, it’s almost exactly the same, so we’d recommend buying both, and disappointing absolutely no-one. Dhs25. Still available at M&S.
McGettigan’s JLT In typical McGettigan’s fashion, these no-nonsense little parcels look like they could be the perfect container for any filling. Pre-bite we half expected these to contain beef and the black stuff. The pastry is a little on the heavy side, and judgement on the filling depends on what you’re after. Some say it’s not sweet enough, some would say it’s just right. Like we said, depends on what you’re after. Dhs50 for ten. Bonnington Hotel, Cluster J, JLT (04 378 0800).
More Café We… erm… don’t really know about this one. It looks sort of like a meringue pie, but that’s confusing because mince pies shouldn’t look like meringue pies, that’s why they’re mince pies. Not meringue pies. The piped pastry is strong on the flour, so it requires some impressive jaw power or a ludicrously unnecessary set of utensils. Sadly, this one has gone doughverboard (patent pending), and its filling doesn’t quite make up for that. Dhs6 each. Various locations including Downtown Dubai (04 343 3779).
Pantry Café These were roundly celebrated in the Time Out office, mainly thanks to what is something of a unique characteristic among many mince pie contenders. This a deep-filled, filling-rich bite, with a surprisingly hefty base and equally surprisingly thin walls encasing this chunky treat. They’re gooey, they’re tasty, and we love how much spiced fruit they manage to pack. Bang on. Top marks. Dhs 8 each or Dhs44 for six. Bay Square, Business Bay (04 558 7161).
Spinneys Taste of Christmas Mince Pies Take the top off and it’s the right amount of pastry. It’s also a tad gooey, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not the most indulgent treats you’ll find on this list, but if you find yourself faced with in a mince pie emergency (we’ve lost count, seriously) then you’re definitely not going to disappoint the neighbours with this option. Dhs17. Available at, of course, Spinneys
Waitrose’s Gluten Free Mince Pies Because those on a gluten-free diet need mince pies in their lives too. And to be fair if you didn’t know it was gluten-free flour you almost certainly wouldn’t guess. The pastry is tasty, if not a teensy bit on the crunchy side, but the filling reminds us of Christmas mornings during our formative years where the heating is cranked up far too high and mum and dad are still, inexplicably, wrapping presents at almost midday. Dhs30. Available at Waitrose.
Waitrose’s Heston from Waitrose Spiced Shortcrust Mince Pies with Lemon Just looking at these beauts got us all worked up into a pre-Christmas festive frenzy. They look so good you don’t want to rip open the perfectly presented packaging. Do, though, because you’re rewarded with a lemony, gingery, mince pie treat. Again, not one for the purists. Some might call it a lemon meringue mince pie, and it is indeed extremely zesty, but it’s a mighty taste experience. Dhs24. Available at Waitrose, obviously.