April 11, 2012

Product Review: Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix

Cherrybrook Kitchen is a company co-founded and inspired by Patsy Rosenberg, who developed food allergies to milk, eggs, and various nuts in adulthood.  The husband-wife company makes allergy-friendly baking mixes with recipes created by Patsy herself.  Their products are manufactured in dedicated dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free facilities.  They also offer some options that are gluten-free and soy-free.

I love to bake from scratch and usually make my own cupcakes using the good ol' Wacky Cake recipe or a favorite vegan vanilla recipe.  However, for my 4-year-old's recent birthday party I was planning to prepare most of the lunch myself so I knew some shortcuts would be welcome.  I decided to try Cherrybrook's gluten-free chocolate cake mix and ready-to-use vanilla frosting.

To make the cupcakes, you need to add water, oil (I used canola), and vanilla extract to the mix.  Each box can make about a dozen cupcakes.  Lucky me, I was able to get 15 cupcakes out of it.  Back in the free-wheeling days when I didn't have to buy allergy-friendly and didn't pay attention to preservatives, I would pick up a box of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker cake mix on sale for $1 a box.  No doubt you'll never find Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes that cheap!  With one box of mix priced at about $6 and frosting for $5, you're looking at a little less than $1 per cupcake.  Not bad for allergy-friendly cupcakes as specialty allergy-friendly bakeries charge $3 or $4 per cupcake.

The cost of the mix cupcakes was a good price but the real question was whether they tasted good.  I thought the cupcakes were okay.  Not spectacular and not horrible, but just okay.  The cupcake seemed to have a nice chocolate flavor but at the same time it tasted a little chalky, as if the cocoa hadn't quite blended in with the rest of the batter.  Texture-wise, the cupcakes were on the dry side.  They were noticeably denser than a regular flour-based cupcake.  I wonder if coconut oil or Earth Balance might help to add some needed moisture into the mix.

As for the frosting, it was pretty disappointing.  Instead of having a stiff consistency, it was extremely gooey and runny right out of the jar.  My future sister-in-law who helped me frost the cupcakes found it to be challenging to keep the frosting from dripping off the sides.  The taste was okay but I wish the frosting would have been fluffier (like the picture on its label) to help showcase the candy sprinkles.

It's nice that Cherrybrook Kitchen offers this mix as there are so few options out there for people with multiple food allergies, especially wheat.  While it was far from the perfect cupcake, it wasn't completely horrible.  Next time I think I will set aside some time for my usual homemade baking.

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