Sunday, June 07, 2009

Gluten-free baking ingredients

I had a minor freakout yesterday as I was preparing for my demo next week. I met the celiac wife of a chef who is doing a gluten-free demo on the same day as I am, and happened to have samples of the chocolate chip cookies I'm making. She wanted to try them, and as I handed one over I had a minor panic about whether ALL the ingredients were indeed gluten-free. As I've mentioned before, I'm allergic but not as sensitive to gluten as a celiac is, so I can handle a mishap or two. This poor lady (who is now healthy and vibrant) has had 35 SURGERIES on her stomach/intestines resulting from her celiac's so I certainly didn't want to be one of those who thoughtlessly included gluten! (Deep breathing...deep breathing....anyone got a paper bag?)

I ran through the ingredients in my head (promise I will post the recipe soon!)

cocoa butter
brown sugar
agave syrup
Bob's Mill gluten-free mix
baking powder
xanthan gum
chocolate chips

This morning I did some quick research online since I was still worried about the iffy ingredients.

Baking powder: I've posted before that there could be gluten in baking powder, but confirmed this morning that in addition to the previous brands I listed, both Clabber Girl and Rumsford brands (available in most grocery stores) are indeed gluten-free.

Vanilla: luckily, I used Nielsen-Massey Madagascar which is the best vanilla by far (once you get away from McCormicks/Schilling you'll never go back! So much better-tasting and you can order online!). Nielsen-Massey states on their site that ALL their extracts are gluten-free. McCormick/Schilling's website said they are also gluten-free. From what I read, part of this is due to the distillation process as well as not using wheat-based alcohol in the extract.

Chocolate: I used Callebaut semisweet chocolate chips (if you have the chance to try something other than Nestle's, please do! Again, tastes SO much better, you can definitely tell the difference....). For cooking, I usually use Callebaut or occasionally Valrhona, which are Belgian and French chocolate, respectively. Neither of their sites indicated that they were gluten-free, however I inspected their ingredient list and they should technically be gluten free since their ingredients are as follows: cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, soy lecithin and vanilla. Baker's brand chocolate listed the same ingredients, however the chocolate quality is not as good so I really don't recommend it. Also because it is part of the Kraft Foods conglomerate, I would imagine that there is greater risk for cross-contamination with other allergens.

Applesauce: the organic unsweetened version I used from Whole Foods is just apples and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Whew. So I think I'm in good shape, but I certainly feel better for doing the additional research. I'll say it again...I want to marry the Internet! How did we live without it before?

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