Tips for making the ultimate mince pies this Christmas

Mince pies: for many, the quintessential part of Christmas.

My own memories of the festive season always included mince pies - with a cuppa round at Granny Helen's house, or refuelling after an afternoon swim at the bach.

So imagine my surprise when a cheerful request to my Newshub Digital team for their tips on the best way to make mince pies showed that not everyone feels the same way.

"Use beef mince. Add cheese." 

"Use chicken."

"Don't make them."

With this Grinch-y advice ringing in my ears, I was forced to turn to my real friends at the BBC and the Independent, who compiled some USEFUL tips on making the best mince pies.

BBC food writer Adam Russell recommends adding "a shot of nice of rum to the mincemeat mixture, which brings a nice Christmassy alcoholic warmth to the pies", while digital food editor Caroline Hire recommends you "add a little grated orange zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the pastry - delicious!"

Also on the orange bandwagon is BBC food editor Cassie Best, who calls chocolate orange mince pies her "ultimate indulgence".

"Add 100g chopped dark chocolate to a jar of shop-bought mincemeat, the grated zest of one orange and one tablespoon of Grand naughty but nice!"

When it comes to pastry, 2015 Great British Bake Off runner-up Ian Cumming told the Independent you want to aim for "soft crumbly pastry".

"To achieve this, I use 30 percent more butter than a traditional shortcrust pastry," he recommends.

"So, where a traditional shortcrust requires one-part butter to two-parts flour, I use 1.3 parts butter instead."

Jean-Didier Gouges, head chef of the Petersham Restaurant, recommends poaching the ingredients being used for the mincemeat beforehand in order ensure that the flavour of the mince pies is as potent as possible.

"To give your mincemeat depth of flavour, ensure the ingredients are poached slowly until sticky. Use sugar and water to do this."

I managed to rustle up some help from within my own newsroom. Health reporter Lucy Warhurst recommends a little chopped apple in the mixture: "It just makes it a little lighter and not so dense."

And podcast editor Maggie Wicks has this controversial call: "Forget the currants, they ruin Christmas."

You've been warned.