It sounds too good to be true: an indulgent Easter egg that is also, somehow, healthy. But this year, supermarket shelves are heaving with chocolate treats that seem to make just that claim.
Do their promises really stand up? We scrutinised some of this year’s bestsellers… and what we discovered might surprise you.
Hotel Chocolat, 65% Supermilk Egg, £15
What’s in it: Made from the brand’s ‘revolutionary’ supermilk chocolate, it promises ‘a minimum of 65 per cent cacao and less sugar than a typical dark chocolate… results in a unique flavour that satisfies your chocolate craving with a smaller portion’.
It has oaty granola and a nut mixture melted into the egg.
Verdict: Supermilk chocolate is 65 per cent cocoa, and 25 per cent sugar – by comparison, the chocolate in a Cadbury Mini Eggs Easter Egg is roughly 35 per cent cocoa, and 57 per cent sugar. Cocoa is touted as something of a superfood, containing compounds called flavonoids which are linked to lower blood pressure and even said to protect against diabetes.
These compounds are also found in fruit and veg. However the small amounts in chocolate are unlikely to make this egg count toward your five a day (and Hotel Chocolat make no such claim).
Cocoa is bitter and, instead of adding sugar, the chocolatier has upped the cocoa butter – aka fat – content. In fact, there is almost 50 per cent more saturated fat than in the Cadbury’s egg. And this means calorie-wise, there’s not much between the two.
In fact there’s as much saturated fat in one Supermilk egg as you would find in 12 Krispy Kreme doughnuts (which each contain 3.9g of sat fat).
One positive is the three bananas worth of fibre here, from the oats and nuts, which will regulate digestion and stop you from polishing off the whole thing.
Taste test: An unremarkable dark chocolate without the intense cocoa hit you get with other high-quality chocolate treats. The granola was an interesting addition but not particularly tasty. Didn’t satisfy after a few bites, as promised by the brand.
Worth the swap? No.
Plamil So Free, No Added Sugar Dark Chocolate Easter Egg, £7.99
What’s in it: A no-frills hollow egg made with sweetener xylitol – also found in chewing gum and toothpaste – instead of sugar, and sunflower oil instead of milk, making it dairy-free.
Verdict: Don’t be fooled by the vanishing sugar content – it’s still bad news for the waistline.
The two types of fat – cocoa butter and sunflower oil – take the calorie count up to 100 more than you’ll get from in a Cadbury Mini Eggs Easter Egg, and more than the recommended amount for an entire main meal. As for saturated fat, there’s more here than you would consume if you ate half the Cadbury’s egg and most of a packet of mini eggs. And indulging in this egg could lead to diarrhoea, as xylitol is known to make stools loose and fast moving.
Taste test: Thankfully we didn’t pay for this egg – it was sent to the health desk.
Anyone who has parted with cash for this will be left disappointed: it tastes like flavourless, hard grit. An insult to Easter eggs.
Worth the swap? No.
Cox & Co, Raw Cacao Nibs Egg, £11.99
What’s in it: A vegan egg that’s 85 per cent cocoa with a bit of added sugar, vanilla flavouring and soya-based thickeners. Bits (or ‘nibs’) of whole cocoa bean – known as ‘raw cacao’ – are melted into the shell.
Verdict: Health food fans say ‘raw’ cacao is healthier because the cocoa beans have not been roasted or fermented as they normally are before being ground up into cocoa powder, so contain more health-boosting flavonoids. But there is no scientific evidence to suggest cacao boasts extra health benefits, compared with regular, dark chocolate. And when bitter-tasting cacao is involved, either fat or sugar is often increased to make it more pleasant-tasting. Here, the brand has chosen cocoa butter – just half an egg takes you over the amount of fat the NHS recommends we eat daily.
Taste test: You wouldn’t know it was chocolate. Bland and tasteless with little sweetness.
Worth the swap? No.
M&S, Dairy Free Chocolate Aubergine Egg, £6
What’s in it: A dark chocolate shell, half of which is cocoa solids – with extra cocoa butter replacing the dairy fats. Sugar, vanilla flavouring and an emulsifier made from soya beans are all added.
Verdict: A double whammy here: more fat than a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk egg and more sugar than you’ll find in a can of regular Coke. It’s all thanks to swapping the less calorific but flavourful animal fats, like milk, for extra helpings of cocoa butter and sugar. There is, at least, a small amount of muscle-boosting protein and fibre from the soya to stop you reaching for more snacks later in the day.
Taste test: The sweetness is overpowering, masking the chocolate’s depth of flavour. The texture is oddly tough and doesn’t melt in the mouth as easily as regular chocolate does.
Worth the swap? No.
Doisy & Dam Vegan Natural Mini Eggs, £1.99 – 3/4 pack
Based on 3⁄4 pack
What’s in it: Ultra-dark mini eggs dipped in a sugar shell tinted with colouring extracted from plants and vegetables. Emulsifiers and starch are added to the truffle centre for bulk.
Verdict: There’s a third less sugar than a regular packet of mini eggs, for roughly the same calories. An added bonus is that there’s as much fibre as a baked potato, thanks to the extra starch and vegetable extracts, which should stop you snacking later.
There is slightly more saturated fat here compared with normal mini eggs, but it’s still less than a third of your recommended daily intake and less than a small bag of peanuts.
Taste test: At last, one that isn’t bland and unappealing – and, as a huge fans of the original Mini Egg, we were impressed.
The shell is sweet and delicately crunchy, while the chocolate is expensive-tasting, dark and creamy. A win!
Worth the swap? YES.
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