The images on this box work very hard to promote the impression that these have been home baked. The muffin cakes appear to be cooling on a baking rack circa 1930s on the front and on the back we see pictures of a bowl of icing sugar with some of the sugar in a tea strainer (again circa 1930s), a jug of melted chocolate and a saucer of green paste. There is also the message: "Our traditional baking methods may leave a touch of flour on the base of the bars."
Tasti Muffin Bakes Choc Peppermint. $3.89 for 240g.
Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):
This is flour you would use to bake a muffin.
Peppermint Paste (20 per cent) (glucose, dextrose, fructose, humectant (glycerol), glucose, wheat fibre, modified starch (1414,1442), milk solids, natural flavour, colour (171, 141), citrus fibre).
There is a very small amount of green paste in the centre of these bars. This ingredients list shows that it is mostly sugar (glucose, dextrose, fructose, glucose) with modified starches acetylated distarch phosphate (1414), which is a starch treated with phosphorus oxychloride and acetic acid and hydroxy-propyl distarch phosphate (1442), which is another treated starch. The two colours that make it green are titanium dioxide (171), which is a white colour found in minerals, and chlorophyll copper complexes (141), which is an olive green natural colour. I don't know why foods with peppermint in them have to be coloured green. To me peppermint is white so perhaps these colours could be left out of the mix.
You'll get 11g or just over two teaspoons of sugar per 40g bar.
This is sugar that has been treated to split into glucose and fructose, which is sweeter than sugar and when used in processed foods remains moist and less prone to crystallisation.
Margarine (vegetable oils, water, salt, emulsifiers (471), soy lecithin, antioxidant (307))
Margarine is used in this product instead of butter, which you would use if you were baking at home. This will be because it is cheaper to use margarine. Not sure what oil is used, the emulsifiers are mono and diglycerides of fatty acids (471), which are produced primarily from hydrogenated soya bean oil and soy lecithin, which is a natural product. The antioxidant, in the oil to keep it preserved, is tocopherols (307) also known as Vitamin E.
A humectant helps keep processed food moist. This is glycerol or glycerine and is a by-product of soap-making and biodiesel production.
Dark chocolate (4.5%)
With the cocoa (below), this will be in here for flavouring.
Cocoa powder (4%)
This is dehydrated egg.
Modified starch (1442)
This is hydroxy-propyl distarch phosphate and is another treated starch.
No fibre is included in the nutritional information so perhaps this is in the product as a binder or filler.
Nice to see natural flavour used here.
Raising agent (500,541)
These are baking soda (500) and sodium aluminium phosphate (541).
More emulsifiers mono and diglycerides of fatty acids (as above) and fatty acid esters of glycerol (472).
Not a high salt product with only 32mg of sodium per 40g bar.
There are 23 ingredients or additives in here that I would not use if I was baking a chocolate/peppermint muffin at home. I would use butter, flour, cocoa, egg, peppermint essence, sugar, salt and maybe a bit of milk or cream. Instead, to ensure these bars last on the shelf and have the correct texture, other ingredients are added, such as emulsifiers, humectants, liquid sugars, colours, modified starches, wheat fibre and vegetable oils.
There are no artificial flavours or colours, but I am unable to buy into the sell that these are traditionally baked. And I don't think the peppermint paste needed to be coloured green.
If you're looking for a lunch-box filler, try to find something that adds nutrition to your day, such as whole grains, oats, nuts or fruit and fibre. A good guide when choosing a muesli bar is to look for one that has less than 2g saturated fat, less than 10g sugar, more than 1.5g fibre and less than 600kJ per bar.
• Uses colour to make the peppermint paste green.
• Uses added ingredients and additives to keep the bars fresh on the shelf.
• No artificial flavours or colours.