MINCE pies are one of the staples of the festive diet, and a firm favourite of Santa Claus himself.

But one Gorse Hill woman has put her own spin on the popular Christmas delicacy: the battered mince pie.

Maria Jackson, owner of the Lollipop Café in Cricklade Road, is getting people into the Christmas spirit by offering her customers something slightly different – and the undertaking has so far proved a hit.

“I like to do things a bit differently,” said Maria.

“I have been trying to think of something to do over Christmas and I remembered that I had done battered sweets for Easter, which went down well.

“I like playing around and experimenting with things, and I thought it would be good to try battered mince pies.”

There is no secret recipe, no culinary sorcery or added ingredients.

It is just mince pies placed in the deep fat fryer for 60 seconds, and emerging with a crusty coat of batter.

“It’s just plain batter in a deep fat fryer,” said Maria.

The imaginative chef whipped up three on Saturday to test the waters, receiving feedback from a few trusted tastebuds.

And she has now decided to offer customers the little festive delights all the way through December.

“I had a quick look online, and it seems the only other place they do them is in London.

“All the feedback has been positive so far though.

“People have compared it to a strudel, which is definitely a good thing.”

Needless to say, the samples Maria very generously gave the Adver went down a treat in the newsroom.

Specialist feature writer Barrie Hudson, who is quite the connoisseur of all things battered, said: “Batter – is there nothing it can’t improve?

“The mince pie joins the Mars Bar, the Crunchie, the Creme Egg and the choc-ice in the magnificent pantheon of sweet things which have been successfully dipped in batter.

“The crunchy, savoury outer coating makes for a fascinating contrast with the filling and pastry.

“I’d like to try one with cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.”

Earlier in the year, Maria became known for her battered cream eggs.

And the success of the mince pies has customers wondering what on earth she’ll place into the deep fat fryer next.

“My customers know to expect something a little bit crazy,” she said.

“But that’s what we’re all about.”