Glutard Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Favorite treats and sweets around town
By Margaret Shugart,
10:45AM, Tue. May 21, 2013
One hopeful side effect of giving up gluten is the reduction in carbs. Most restaurants don’t offer gluten free bread or pasta, and unless money is no object, you’re likely to cut down on starches at home. Every now and then, though, it is a true joy and relief to enjoy a dough-based treat, a little sweet to make up for all the other things you’re missing.
These are a few of my favorite dealers around Austin and their specialties. What locally available sweets get you all excited?
Sweet Ritual in Juiceland (4500 Duval St; http://www.sweetritual.com): Housemade, gluten-free, waffle cones. I stumbled upon them one day while studying by the juice bar. The idea was to get a healthy green juice for energy and concentration. After that was all gone, the place filled with an incredible cinnamon scent and the vegan ice cream at Sweet Ritual became impossible to ignore. I asked for a cup, and she offered not one, but two kinds of gluten-free cones. One is a pre-packaged wafer cone and the other is a freshly pressed rice-flour waffle cone, held together with a rich dollop of chocolate at the base. She had made them twenty minutes before. It was big, perfectly sweet, and had the waffle cone-crunch-then-dissolve-in-your-mouth character. I almost went back for a second scoop, just to eat another cone.
Sugar Mamas, Sugar Circus, Delish, and Sweetish Hill: I have tried cupcakes from each of these places and have been the envy of my gluten-plus friends. Sugar Mamas (1905 S 1st St; www.sugarmamasbakeshop.com) and Sugar Circus (2613 E 5th St; www.sugarcircusatx.com) usually carry at least one gluten-free flavor a day; call ahead to see if it is something you like. And Delish Bakery (209 W 3rd St; http://delishaustin.com) has a great selection of cupcakes, cheesecake cups, brownies and cookies. Sweetish Hill (1120 W. 6th Street; www.sweetishhill.com) requires an advanced order for their gluten-free cupcakes, and the prices are very reasonable.
Wild Wood Bakehouse (3016 Guadalupe St., Suite 200; www.wildwoodartcafe.com): Everything. They serve both savory meals and house-baked sweets, all 100% gluten-free. There is always a delightful selection of breads, muffins, cookies, assorted pastries, and lots of cupcakes. You can get vegan flavors and ones for the dairy lovers, complete with cream cheese icing. I have tried their red velvet, chocolate, spicecake, pumpkin, and lemon and have a few more to taste through. They even decorate them for the holidays. It’s a place where you don’t feel like an annoying side project, but like a real girl. And since the kitchen is completely gluten-free, there is zero risk of cross-contamination. There are also homemade cakes you can personalize if you need a special occasion treat for a glutard in your life. Sometimes the goodies can taste a little freezer burned; it’s hard to keep all that gluten-free fresh without some help. I usually ask how recently they were baked, or just go for the day-olds and pay ½ price, then buy twice as many…not to avoid the freezer burn, but so I can indulge in twice the treats.
Whole Foods (525 N Lamar Blvd; www.wholefoodsmarket.com): The store brand, Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse, frozen vanilla cupcakes were the first gluten-free ones I ever bought. I had intended to bring the package of four to a potluck for my dessert contribution and showed up with a lap full of crumbs and a solitary cupcake to share with everyone else. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten a thawed one. They just don’t last that long.
In addition to products from their own facility, they work with other producers to provide a wide variety of sweets, including a new cookie and brownie line by Bobblicious Baking Company. They are individually packaged, which is great for an easy grab-and-go, and manage to be soft and melty using no dairy or gluten, a definite step forward in the allergy-friendly options for treats.
Thom’s Market (1418 Barton Springs Rd; www.thomsmarket.com): They carry the best pre-packaged gluten-free cookies on the market from Tate’s Bake Shop. Their gluten-plus chocolate chip cookies were named #1 chocolate cookie by Consumer Reports and Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. Tate's operates a designated gluten-free facility that is definitely keeping the quality tradition. I love and hate their cookies for the same reason: they are irresistible and taste truly homemade, like the ones you make with butter. When the cookies are cool, they are a little crispy and chewy, and when warmed, they become soft and melt in your mouth. The first ingredient on the chocolate chip variety is actually semi-sweet chocolate chips. As of June 1, Tate's is adding ginger zingers (first ingredient is crystallized ginger) and double chocolate chip gluten-free options. Like most high-end gluten-free products, the bag contains two small pouches to help preserve freshness . . . and to provide a momentary barrier when you want to eat the entire package in one sitting. They can also be found at Central Market and Alberstons.
TRIO in The Four Seasons Hotel (98 San Jacinto Blvd; www.fourseasons.com/austin/dining) and TRACE in the W Hotel (200 Lavaca St; www.traceaustin.com): Both restaurants serve gluten-free bread with your meal. I have no idea where either of them sources their bread, but both examples are light and fluffy and sport a nice, thick crust. What an incredible treat to join everyone else at the table, dipping into olive oil or enjoying cheese and charcuterie with a vehicle.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. I know there are more undiscovered gems out there. Hand over your sweet secrets, my glutard friends.