Health

Product test: Betty Crocker packet mixes

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When it comes to sweet treats I believe in everything in moderation, though typically I’m a bake from scratch kinda girl which enables me to have full control over the ingredients I’m putting into my food. However, I do acknowledge that some people like the simplicity and speed of using packet mixes.

This isn’t something I would typically review as it’s not a product I would personally use, but as samples turned up on my doorstep for a road test, I figured I’d give them a go and let you know my thoughts.

Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix

INGREDIENTS: Sugar, wheat flour, white chocolate (7%), dark chocolate (5%), cocoa (4%), vegetable oil, starch, salt, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, 450, 341), natural vanilla flavour.

betty-crocker
The packaging states on the front that it contains no artificial colours or flavours. I can recognise most of the ingredients in this list; the only exceptions being two additives. In this instance the brownie mix contains raising agents 450 (diphosphate – salts of phosphoric acid and baking soda) and 341 (calcium phosphate).

brownie
To bake the brownie mix, you combine a packet of powder with either eggs and butter, or you can substitute the butter for vegetable oil and water if you prefer.

Once made, this brownie contains 12 servings with each having 262 calories/1098 kJ per serve. They are pretty large-sized servings in my personal opinion so I split it out into 25 pieces instead.

If you do follow the 12-serve suggestion, there’s 20.9g of sugar per piece (just over five teaspoons of sugar per piece), and 13.3g of fat, 8.4g of saturated fat per serve. Kind of scary but pretty standard for a brownie that contains chocolate pieces.

Devil’s Food Cake Mix

INGREDIENTS (CAKE): Sugar, wheat flour, cocoa (8%), vegetable oil, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, 450, 341), emulsifier (471), thickeners (1422, 415), salt, flavour, antioxidant (307b).

INGREDIENTS (FROSTING): Sugar, water, vegetable oils, corn syrup, cocoa (4%), emulsifiers (471, 435, 481), salt, preservative (202), chocolate flavour, minerals salt (450), food acid (330).

devils food
I’m actually a little surprised there are more additives in this compared with the brownie mix. You’ve got:

  • 202 – Potassium sorbate (preserves the food)
  • 307b – Tocopherols concentrate, mixed (protects food from deterioration by oxidation)
  • 330 – Citric acid (natural preservative)
  • 341 – Calcium phosphate, dibasic or calcium hydrogen phosphate (raising agent)
  • 415 – Xanthan gum (thickener to thicken the mixture)
  • 435 – Polysorbate 60 or Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate (emulsifier – helps keep water and oil mixed together)
  • 450 – Sodium pyrophosphate (diphosphate – salts of phosphoric acid and baking soda)
  • 471 – Mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids (another emulsifier)
  • 481 – Sodium lactylate (another emulsifier)
  • 1422 – Acetylated distarch adipate (another thickener)

Again with this mix you add eggs, vegetable oil and water, or you can substitute the oil and water for butter and milk instead.

There are 12 servings in this cake, and for each slice you would be taking in 256 cal / 1070 kJ per serve, 12.6g fat with 3.2g saturated fat, and 20.5g of sugar (again approximately five teaspoons of sugar per serve).

The verdict

I would still prefer to bake from scratch using real, separate ingredients as this avoids/reduces additive content, however, if you have to go for a packet mix the Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie mix is probably close to the next best thing. The mixes do contain additives, and you will typically find pre-packaged baking mixes like these do have them so if you’re going the packet route it’s going to be fairly standard (as additives are used to improve the appearance, taste, shelf life or safety of processed foods).

On the bright side, by adding ingredients such as eggs, butter, milk, or oil in their fresh form, this means they won’t be coming in preserved/powdered form so there are less additives than there potentially could have been. The baked goods are easy to make and the end products do taste good, but because of the high sugar, fat and energy content I’d recommend that these should be reserved for treats.

Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix and Devil’s Food Cake Mix (RRP $5.99) are available in supermarkets nationwide.

Images / NZ Real Health

Ange is a personal trainer, figure skating coach, wife, mother-of-one, and yoga instructor based in Auckland, New Zealand.

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