Category Archives: Let’s get baked

Gluten-free runs on Dunkin

Have you heard the news about Dunkin Donuts? Apparently their introduction of gluten-free treats in select Massachusetts and Florida stores was so successful that the stores couldn’t keep them in stock. From what I’ve heard, the two varieties they introduced went over very well, and many people in the celiac community appreciated Dunkin’s cheeky disclaimer, “Still really unhealthy.” Didn’t stop folks from snapping ’em up like hot cakes, but it’s nice to see a chain bucking the trendy “go gluten-free, lose weight” angle.

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Did you have a chance to try one? I intended to on my last visit to Boston, but I didn’t manage to get to one of the few stores that carried them.

Turns out, it doesn’t matter much, because the success was so great that DD is rolling out gluten-free options nationwide. By 2015, all of their ~7,000 stores in the US will carry gluten-free options, and not just the cinnamon sugar donut and blueberry muffin they started out with but also other flavors currently being developed.

ht_gluten_free_dd_jp_121231_wblogThe spokesperson said people reported liking the gluten-free pastries better than the usual goodies on offer (perhaps, I’d wager, because they were shrinkwrapped rather than left out to get stale). He even confirmed there was talk of making all their products gluten-free by 2020, which would make Dunkin Donuts the first large mainstream franchise to go 100% gluten-free. This will be amazing for our community, both in terms of awareness and in terms of available donuts.

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a donut person. When I was younger, I had this odd insistence on only liking one flavor at any given time, so for a few months I’d accept only the powdered sugar donuts, then only the plain, old-fashioned donuts, then only the chocolate glazed donuts. Finally I just admitted defeat and moved on to the muffins (also the “healthier” option, each with only 100 to 300 calories more than the average donut).

Still, having grown up in its native Massachusetts, I do have a huge soft spot in my heart for Dunkin Donuts, mainly caused by a few too many iced coffees with cream and sugar. At the very least, I prefer DD to Starbucks. Less pretension, better coffee.

So I’m super excited for Dunkin Donuts to be all gluten-free by 2020! Are you?

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Not-Quite-Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have the best parents in the world. I hope I don’t lose any readers by saying this—I’m sure your parents are cool, too—but mine are simply the best, and that’s that. Throughout my life, they have given me so much more than my celiac genes (sorry, I had to). They are generous, supportive, smart, caring, awesome people who taught me to laugh often. They’re also both great cooks and bake approximately a trillion batches of cookies between them for the holidays. They are most likely reading this blog post, so I will try to stop embarrassing them and move on to offending them.

Like I said, my parents have already given me a lot. And they continue to. Last week, I arrived at work to find a package I wasn’t expecting. It contained a note from Mom and Dad, a Bob’s Red Mill gift card, and two baking mixes. Oooh.

Bobs-Red-Mill-Gluten-Free-Cookie-Mix-Chocolate-Chip-039978004673Just the way for me to dip a toe into the perilous waters of gluten-free baking! I thought to myself. As I believe I’ve mentioned, I work for a publisher of gluten-free cookbooks. And I read a lot of blogs. This means I know that great gluten-free baking is a) possible, and b) really, really hard. At least, compared to “normal” baking. It involves multiple flours, the use of strange gums (or the gumption to go gumless), whole henhouses’ worth of eggs, and, above all, you really must buy a [standmixer/blender/sifter/oven thermometer/kitchen scale/other tool] depending on whose cookbook you’re reading. It’s scary!

Facing my fears, I tried out the chocolate chip cookie mix this weekend. I even bought a handmixer first! I shared the cookies with a few friends and kindly informed them that they would be required to provide a quote for my blog.

Friend #1: I didn’t want one before, and now I want one even less.
[Note: He did not in fact try a cookie. He also claimed it would be illegal for me to make up a false quote and attribute it to him, and he was unimpressed when I told him I had already done it to Abraham Lincoln. He’s a lawyer, so I won’t take any chances.]

Friend #2: I think they need more fat.
Me: More…fat?
Friend #2: You know, because they’re already gluten-free…

Friend #3: Well, I think they’re great. [Beat.] But I’m pretty drunk.

Friend #4: They’re sort of like gingerbread. No, that’s not it. Oatmeal-raisin, but without the raisins? They taste like…
Me, helpfully: Fava beans?
Friend #4: [Swallows.] Hmm. At least they’re probably really healthy, right?
Me, sadly: No.

Despite threatening my friends that I would, I didn’t take any photos. I do wish I had at least gotten one of myself trying to shape the dough (more like batter, really) into balls and instead winding up smearing fingerfuls onto the baking sheet into haphazard shapes that puffed, spread, and glommed onto each other unnervingly as they baked. In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to use that “light” Smart Balance butter alternative. I also maybe shouldn’t have freaked out and dumped half a jar of cinnamon into the dough after tasting it. And I probably should have packed a real dinner for myself that night to avoid this: “You’re all getting pizza? Oh, that’s okay. I’ll just…eat half of these cookies.” Such circumstances would make it tough to enjoy anything, and would give just about anyone a tummyache. Many lessons learned, my friends.

51KSJZC7FWL._SX300_The nice thing about this experience is that, from this point in my gluten-free baking trajectory, there’s pretty much nowhere for me to go but up. So, thank you, Mom and Dad. I’m looking forward to trying the brownie mix next; I hear that chocolate does wonders for, well, just about anything.

What was your first GF baking experience like? Do you have a favorite mix or recipe? Any that really are just like Mom’s?

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