We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. Today, Jihee Junn taste tests Magnum’s new dairy-free ice cream.
Being lactose intolerant (along with about 90% of the east Asian population), there are few things I miss more than chowing down on a nice cold Magnum. Growing up, my preferred method was to eat the chocolate first, using my teeth to carefully peel off the individual shards before diving into the sweet vanilla filling. Nowadays, I prefer to eat it in its full textural glory: a delicate snap-crunch married with a smooth velvety cream.
But that’s only on very rare occasions – treating myself to one means dealing with the consequential bloating. So when I heard that Streets was releasing a dairy-free version of its classic and almond Magnums, I was hyped, ecstatic, over the bloody moon! But also a little sceptical because vegan ‘ice cream’ can be a bit of a hit-or-miss. Generally, it depends on what your plant-based preferences are: coconut tends to be the most common/successful base ingredient (all varieties of Little Island), but there’s also soy (Sanitarium So Good Vanilla) and almond (Sanitarium So Good Almond Choc), all of which I’ve tried, not all of which I’ve liked.
Magnum, however, seems to have gone down a slightly different route, opting to use pea protein to mimic milk proteins and coconut oil to mimic milk fat. This isn’t totally new, of course: Ben & Jerry’s does this for its dairy-free varieties as well, fusing the two ingredients with its almond milk base (which is naturally low in fat) to give it a more solidified texture.
But enough of the gastronomical specifics. The real question is: what does it taste like? And does it taste good?
The short answer is yes, it tastes very very good. It’s chocolatey, creamy, and gives you that vital snap-crunch. It’s a proper frozen dessert that doesn’t leave you wanting. Visually, it looks pretty similar as well, albeit with a slightly darker coating.
That’s not to say there aren’t some noticeable differences. The darker coating for one (the chocolate is 70% cocoa) obviously makes an aesthetic difference, but it also makes a difference to the taste – marginally more bitter, slightly less sweet. There’s also a vaguely diminished sweetness to the vanilla filling – at least to my palate – which isn’t overbearing but worth mentioning anyway.
I also liked the classic better than the almond, which is surprising because the original almond Magnum is always my go-to pick. My hypothesis? The sweeter, fattier original achieves a more successful balance of flavours with the almonds than its slightly more bitter vegan counterpart.
But all in all, I’m a fan of these dairy-free freaks. They’re certainly not indistinguishable to the original, but they’re still pretty close and still very delicious. They’re also lower in calories, sugar and fat but, mind you, higher in price: at Countdown, it’s $7 for a vegan packet of three, $8 for an original packet of four.
Good or bad? Good.
Verdict: Not quite what Coke No Sugar is to regular Coke, but definitely what Sunfed is to chicken.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.