I know I'm not the only person who fancies ice cream when it's dark and cold outside, I crave it more if it's snowing. Sainsbury's have backed me up by having a few festive ice creams and what's more Christmassy than mince pies!
Originally I had the same reaction to this as most people I've mentioned that I had it to; yuck! I think subconsciously, we've associated the mince part of mince pie with actual mince and who wants ground beef in an ice cream. Obviously that's not the case, for anyone unfamiliar with mince pies (they only seem to be a UK thing) they are fruit based, no meat to be found nowadays and are served with flavoured -such as Brandy- butter, cream or ice cream. It's not that far out really then to make a Mince Pie ice cream and lots of companies have tried their hand at it.
Farmhouse dairy ice cream with mincemeat and pastry pieces made in Devon.
Sainsbury's have made a point of making sure we know this is dairy ice cream, real ice cream is always supposed to be dairy in nature but we all know that if there's a cheaper way to make something most companies will risk quality for costs.
On this basis I had slightly higher than usual expectations for the ice cream itself and I wasn't dissapointed. The Taste The Difference range is the best of what Sainsbury's has to offer and should be comparable to high end brands, the ice cream used in this pint was a definite step up on the one used in the Gingerbread; thick and rich with not only a creamy texture but an actual creamy flavour too. The flavour is perfect for Mince Pie, nothing too strong or overpowering but it more than holds its own.
Every spoonful included some mincemeat - currants, apple, sultanas, candied mixed peel - orange peel, lemon peel, brandy and apricots. That seems like it should be too much for an ice cream but it wasn't suprisingly. The pieces were all quite small with the exception of the currants, and all the flavours blended well together. The currants stood out the most, probably because of the size and my only minor complaint here is that a couple of them (to be fair this is in the whole pint) hadn't made it through the freezing process very well, they'd frozen into sharp little shards that were strange to eat but 2 in 500ml isn't bad!
Dough based ingredients are my favourite parts of a non-plain ice cream, be it cookie dough, biscuit pieces, brownies etc. As far as I'm aware I've not tried pastry pieces in an ice cream before, it's not really an ingredient companies have included. This needs to change! The pastry is star of the show here - absolutely gorgeous tasting and lots of pieces throughout some very large. It's an all butter pastry and there's no doubt about that. A rich, buttery sweet flavour with a perfect texture that thankfully wasn't lost during freezing. Sainsbury's really haven't scrimped on this tub.
This is pretty rich what with the thick creamy ice cream and buttery pastry but the mincemeat manages to lighten it up. I'm sure some people would find a couple of scoops just right but I had no problems eating the lot! There was one thing that dissapointed me though. There are supposed to be some nice festive spices included: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice and Ginger. Now it could well be because I only had the Gingerbread ice cream a couple of days ago, but if the flavours in the Gingerbread tub were a slap in the face, they're more like a gentle nudge in the Mince Pie. I tasted ginger and possibly some cinnamon a couple of times but I was specifically waiting to taste them. I feel they've played it a bit too safe on the spice front, for a truly festive flavour there needs to be a lot more. Because of this, I think if I hadn't known this was mince pie beforehand, I don't think I'd have put it as a Christmas themed ice cream. It's lovely but mincemeat and pastry might be exactly what a mince pie is, but when all separated up and popped in ice cream it just becomes sweet fruit pieces and buttery pastry. It needs more spices to scream Christmas!