Pamela's Products -- The Gift That Kept on Giving
Wheat-free, Gluten-free, and Allergen-free Baking Mixes
Several months ago, I agreed to test out some of Pamela's baking mixes and new packaged goods. When I took on the challenge, little did I know I'd be asked to do a holiday cookie article for Living Without (5 new GF Allergen-Free cookie recipes coming your way this November!!) and a huge Harvest package for Lime (9 new Harvest recipes from across the country, scheduled for October). Suffice it to say that July and August got eaten up by my own recipe creations (baking holiday cookies in LA in July is crazy). So I'm finally back on track.
What's so great about Pamela's Products? Like Sandra Lee's, they're semi-homemade. So even if you're not a wiz in the kitchen, you can bake your child a home-made birthday cake, or a loaf of sweet-smellin' bread. Additionally, Pamela's products gives various options for preparing their mixes. You can make them completely allergen-free, or tailor them to your diet, using butter or eggs as appropriate. I prepared all of the mixes using the completely allergen-free instructions; egg replacer for eggs, canola oil, dairy-free soy-free vegetable shortening, and water.
Let me start with their star product.
CHOCOLATE CAKE MIX
Described on the package as "Rich, Dark, Moist, Decadent Cake", it lived up to its reputation. Unlike so many GF cake mixes, this cake had no bitter after-taste, no grittiness, wasn't too sweet, and stayed moist and delicious for literally A WEEK!!! I added chocolate chips, make it into little cupcakes, and also baked it into cakes. In every form, it stayed fresh well beyond my expectations. It was truly THE GIFT THAT KEPT ON GIVING. I liked it so much better than Cherrybrook Kitchen's Cake mix. I will buy this often.
CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIE MIX
Loved the chocolate chunks. Loved the simplicity. Great for kids to help with. Not sold on the texture. I found them a little too gritty/grainy, and they were too sweet for my taste. But my kids were happy, and ultimately, that's who they're for anyway.
WHEAT-FREE BREAD MIX
Yummm, who doesn't love the aroma of fresh baked bread? This bread was yeasty and old-fashioned. I don't have a bread machine, so I used my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer with the bread hook. Baking it made my kitchen smell great, and I couldn't wait to pull it out of the oven, slice it up and eat it warm with some Earth Balance Soy Garden natural "buttery" spread. So delicious. This bread is very close to a loaf of "normal" white bread. Perhaps a little yeastier than most (which I happen to like). To keep it moist, it's pretty dense. But I prefer that to the light and crumbly GF breads you get prepackaged. This bread also stayed fresh and toasted well for several days.
CHOCOLATE BROWNIE MIX
Though Pamela's didn't send me their brownie mix to test, I decided to try it anyway. I baked it in my mother's oven on Cape Cod, which keeps a dubious temperature, but even so, it took twice the allotted time to bake. After 40 minutes, it still hadn't set in the center. Maybe it really needs the eggs after all. And like the cookies, I found the brownies a little gritty, and too sweet. And like the cookies, I loved the chocolate chunks. However, put chocolate chunks in a sponge, and I might eat it.
Overall? These products are simple to prepare, affordable, easily tailored to the individual bakers' dietary needs, and generally pretty tasty. I still like Pamela's prepackaged cookies better than the cookie mix, but for the sake of novelty, it's great to have the semi-homemade option, so children can help bake.
Last but not least, Pamela's sent me their Biscotti. These biscotti are GF, but not Allergen-free. Please NOTE THAT THEY CONTAIN MILK, EGGS, and TREE NUTS.
CHOCOLATE WALNUT BISCOTTI
I couldn't sample these because I'm allergic to walnuts, but my friend Michelle and her son Enzo tried them for me, and were very happy, and they're Italian (so should know their biscotti!)
ALMOND ANISE BISCOTTI
Delicious! Dunked it in my coffee, kept them in the car for snack attacks, LOVED them. These biscotti are indistinguishable from traditional biscotti made with gluten. Not too sweet, great texture, a real keeper. The only downside is that they haven't come up with one that's tree-nut free yet. Pamela's? How about it?