Any good Italian-American girl would agree that carbohydrates hold a special place on the list of dietary requirements. Bread. Pasta. Cake. You name it, I love it. Blame it on my ancestral DNA. Before meeting one of my best friends last summer, I would have never visited a gluten-free bakery on my own accord. Admittedly, I was skeptical of gluten being taken out of the culinary equation. Tasting a dry cupcake, crumbly brownie or gummy pastry is enough to scare any foodie away. But, my fears subsided as my gluten-free tour guide showed me an exciting alternative to all-purpose flour.
Our first stop was Tu-Lu’s Bakery located on 11th Street between 1st and 2ndAvenue. My eyes darted towards the Red Velvet Cupcake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting through the glass bakery case. I also picked out a Chocolate Brownie and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie (which one of the bakery gal’s assured me was her favorite). The stand out at Tu-Lu’s is by far the Red Velvet. You would never know that it was gluten-free! It’s incredibly moist with good chocolate flavor. On top of that, the luscious cream cheese frosting is just the right texture. The brownie and cookie weren’t as soft as I would have liked, but the flavors were right on point.
Tucked away in the Lower East Side on Broome Street (between Orchard and Ludlow) lies Babycakes, another favorite gluten-free bakery among Manhattanites. I picked up a rich Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting, a Carrot Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting and a glazed donut. I was pleasantly surprised by the rich flavor of the Dark Chocolate Cupcake. The frosting tasted a little too artificial and the texture of the cake was not as moist as Tu-Lu’s. I liked the chunks of banana and carrot dispersed throughout the Carrot Cupcake. As a donut fanatic, I was excited to take a big bite! I was expecting a softer, more doughy texture rather than the crumbly cake-like donut that I experienced. I’m sure it is quite difficult to recreate this without using gluten!
I recently found out about a gluten-free Red Velvet Cupcake offered at Sprinkles bakery. The cake is extremely moist and very similar to their regular cupcakes.
These days, it is much easier to find gluten-free options at popular bakeries in NYC. I would highly recommend venturing out of your comfort zone and trying a gluten-free dessert. Don’t let the name scare you. If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, try experimenting with alternative gluten-free flours. Bob’s Red Mill is my go-to brand. Give it a whirl. You might even feel a little healthier. In this case, you can definitely have your cake and eat it too!
Wine With Your Cupcake? Why Not…
While you’re at it, why not balance out all of that rich chocolate with a drink? For rich, chocolatey cupcakes, reach for lightly sparkling and endlessly drinkable Brachetto d’Acqui. Brachetto’s lively berry notes are a perfect complement to chocolate dessert, and the wine’s delicate fizz helps to cleanse the palate from creamy frosting overload.