Betty Crocker brownies

1 Aug

“Did you make this from scratch?”

When my grandma asked me that question about one of my earliest baking attempts, I was completely confused. “What does from scratch mean?” I asked my mom, for, in our house, baking mixes were anathema.

I’ve carried my abhorrence for boxed cakes and cookies into adulthood (except, of course, for my years in a college dorm room, when I entertained guests with German-chocolate and banana cakes from “just-add-water” mixes).

That abhorrence only intensified when, thinking I had no alternatives, I tried one after another of the myriad tasteless, textureless gluten-free baking mixes previously available. (Gluten-free Pantry was one of the primary offenders.)

So when I heard of Betty Crocker’s new gluten-free mixes for yellow cake, brownies, devil’s food cake, and chocolate chip cookies, I was understandably hesitant. But then, last Saturday, I saw them—lined up next to all the other mixes in the “normal people’s” baking aisle at my local Jewel. They had a normal company’s name, and a normal product’s price as well.

I decided to start with the product with the best chance of tasting . . . normal.

The preparation directions, however, were unusually detailed, but I followed them down to the instructions to cut warm brownies “with plastic knife using short sawing motions.” Perhaps I should have eaten them while warm, however, for they were far better at room temperature than out of the refrigerator.

But they were tiring. While I ate them all, I had to do so in small doses. The brownies were surprisingly sour for a dessert listing sugar as the first two ingredients. Perhaps the heavy percentage of cocoa accounted for the darkness? Thankfully, however, the brownies did not betray a hint of their gluten freeness. And I didn’t expect them to, with flour (rice) listed as the ninth ingredient out of 13.

I couldn’t fault the brownies’ texture, either. They weren’t crumbly or dry, nor were they too sticky and dense. The feeling on my tongue was addictive . . . but every bite disappointed my hopes of discovering a less strident taste.

So I’ll enjoy these Betty Crocker brownies as an every-once-in-a-while treat. And they were good enough to warrant my trying at least the company’s yellow cake mix. I’m so desperate to find a plain, vanilla gluten-free dessert that doesn’t have to rely on the masking flavors of pumpkin or apple or chocolate, I won’t even care if I don’t make that elusive bakery “from scratch.”

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