As the holidays approach, the entertaining dilemma rears its stocking-topped head. What goodies do you serve to all those guests who are suddenly on gluten-free diets?
The fastest-growing trend in special diets is the one that bans wheat flour and many other items from guests’ food lists.
What’s a hostess to do? Skip the treats? No way. Help is right at hand.
Walk into Sugarplum Cake Shoppe on 8th Street and you’ll find an array of gluten-free goodies just waiting to be boxed up and taken home. We’re talking cookies, muffins, pastries, cupcakes, cheesecakes, pies and more.
“For somebody (who is gluten-free) to get a beautifully decorated cookie is pretty special,” says owner Amanda Adams. Or how about a gluten-free cupcake with a swirl of sweet icing topped by a candied violet? Maybe a fudgy brownie or chewy peanut butter cookie? A tart lemon bar or pumpkin pie?
Some things need to be special-ordered, but most things are right there for the taking every day, she says. And seasonally, just for the holidays, there’s also homemade candy – fudge, peanut brittle, toffee or peppermint bark, for example.
Everything is prepared in two separate kitchens – one is gluten-free.
“If we don’t have what you want, we’ll try to make it,” Adams says. “But we won’t sell it to you unless it tastes good!”
She prepares everything from scratch using her own special flour blend that includes several types of rice flour, tapioca starch and sometimes almond flour.
The same is true for Coquette’s Bistro and Bakery downtown. Owners Michelle and Turu Marx (mom and daughter) blend their own flour product and also sell it for home bakers in a shop next door.
Their restaurant showcase includes cookies, muffins, cakes and pies, and the shop next door also has doughnuts and other goodies.
In addition, they do homemade breads. Looking for a breakfast treat for your gluten-free houseguests? Try their cinnamon rolls.
“Everything here is gluten-free, guaranteed,” says Turu Marx.
And if you need gluten-free stuffing for the turkey, pot pies for hungry guests or a lasagna to throw in the oven, they have those, too. They also do seasonal cakes (like gingerbread) and pies. And their red velvet cupcakes fly out the door this time of year.
Like Sugarplum, they’ll take special orders and try to please their customers with specific requests.
Other bakeries in town do offer some “gluten-free” treats, but Stephen Boonzaaijer of Boonzaaijer’s Bakery on Fillmore says “you’re not officially gluten- free unless you have a whole separate kitchen for it, so there’s no possible crossover.”
They do offer some treats that are gluten-free in themselves and have rarely had a complaint from customers.
Consider the hazelnut meringues or a treat called “chocolate decadence,” a pie-shaped slice of fudgy goodness.
As for Sugarplum, one has to ask: Do they make sugarplums for the holidays?
“Well, we’re not really sure what a sugarplum is – everyone seems to have a different idea of what it really is. If you think you know, we’ll try to make it!”