Pundits, a British chocolate brand, are on a mission to ” provide great tasting food to delight the tastes and dietary expectations of the modern world “. Instead of adding sugar or artificial ingredients, their chocolate contains stevia; a zero calorie, zero GI sweetener, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar. All of their chocolate bars are gluten free and their core range of 10 flavours includes three vegan friendly options – dark chocolate, dark chocolate with orange and almonds, and dark mint chocolate.
PUNDITS CHOCOLATE REVIEW
I really like dark chocolate but I was slightly hesitant to review Pundits stevia sweetened chocolate because of my previous experience with stevia sweetened products (e.g. cakes, sweets and protein powder)- it’s been pretty negative. I find that the stevia typically overpowers everything else that you’re meant to be tasting and it leaves a bitter after taste. So I was a bit nervous to get into a situation where I had accepted the samples but didn’t like the chocolate!
Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised. All three of the dark chocolate bars had a deep and satisfying flavour and they weren’t too bitter even thought they had over 86% cocoa. I was also pleased that the bars had the texture of ‘real’ chocolate– sometimes vegan chocolate can be softer than ‘normal’ chocolate, especially if it is marketed as being healthier. But, most importantly there wasn’t the strong overpowering taste of stevia that I was worried about! At first I thought I could detect a slightly after taste, but that might have just been me being critical because I was looking out for it. After I few squares I didn’t notice any aftertaste.
My favourite was the dark chocolate orange with almonds, although I’d probably prefer the orange taste to be a bit stronger. Nevertheless, it definitely made up for missing my beloved Terry’s chocolate orange (which contains dairy) this Christmas!
I have since talked to Pundits, who said that their new batches of this bar will have a punchier orange flavour, which sounds perfect.
The dark chocolate and mint was my second favourite and again I thought they could increase the mint taste a bit. But it was still enjoyable.
After I finished eating my way through the chocolate, I had a few questions for Pundits about healthy sweeteners and chocolate making, which co-founders Hemant and Arjun kindly agreed to answer.
I was very impressed with your dark chocolate. How many attempts did it take to get the recipes right?
It took us just over a year to finalise the recipes and involved consuming a lot of chocolate which was hard work but someone had to do it! We were lucky enough to have a food scientist work with us to get everything spot on and we learnt an incredible amount. All the hard work was worth it in the end because we were able to make chocolate using stevia rather than sugar without having the typical bitter after taste associated with stevia that you mentioned about.
We find that a lot of our customers initially buy just the dark or milk chocolate to try and then come back with a much wider selection. Many say they wanted to test it out first because they’re usually sceptical about how it will taste after their experiences with other ‘no added’ or ‘free from’ chocolates. And of course they’re pleasantly surprised!
What’s your favourite flavour chocolate in the range?
That’s a tough one, but currently it’s the Dark Chocolate with Orange and Almonds. It’s great as a snack because a little dark chocolate can actually curb your sweet cravings. There are 10 bars in the range and they’re all getting great reviews. The salted caramel and chai flavours are really popular at the minute.
We set out to offer a large range which includes classics such as dark mint chocolate, coconut and chocolate with hazelnut so it gives everyone the opportunity to find a better alternative to regular chocolate.
I love your ethos of creating delicious food without the ‘nasties’ and that is better for us. Can you tell us more about the health benefits of stevia compared to sugar?
Stevia really is a godsend. It’s been used in South America for thousands of years and we’ve only just started using it here in the UK. Stevia isn’t actually a sugar at all, it’s a plant which can be over 300 times sweeter than sugar and has zero calories and is zero in GI.
We believe that the food industry has been falsely demonising fats for many years. They’ve marketed low fat foods as being healthier even though they add scary amounts of sugar to make up for the taste! But thankfully there is growing awareness around the dangers of consuming too much sugar. It is like to be responsible for many health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, heart disease and even contributes to cancer.
Pundits is all about bringing ‘wiser’ food options that are safe and healthy without compromising on taste.
I noticed that you also use oligofructose as a sweetner – that doesn’t sound too healthy! Is it?
Although it is a bit of a mouthful to say, Oligofructose is actually just natural fibre which also occurs in other well-known fibre sources such as chicory root. It doesn’t get digested by the body so has hardly any calories and doesn’t increase blood sugar levels and is recognised as safe. We don’t actively advertise that Pundits chocolate bars are high in dietary fibre but perhaps we should!
And finally, something I like to ask everyone – How do you stay healthy & psyched?
Thankfully for us we tend to practice what we preach. Testing out new recipes for healthier snacks and meals with a wide range of ingredients is all part of the job and is really fun. We make product donations for charitable events and like to raise awareness and provide education about eating ‘wiser’ and living a healthier lifestyle (what we like to call Punditry). And of course some regular yoga – It all helps in staying healthy & psyched!
Use the code HEALTHY20 to get 20% off all products on the Pundits website until the end of Sugar Free February 2017.
Have you ever tried anything with stevia in?
What was your experience and would you be game to try these chocolate bars?