This is The Bite Sized Food Review, an honest and unpretentious exploration of some of the most enjoyable and flavorsome foods available today. From the refreshing gelato’s of Rome, the authentic New York Delis to the tartest cheeses from Cheddar, The Food Review will take you on a scrumptious and satisfying tour of local treats and eats. This isn’t a challenge to eat the most food, just an appreciative tour of the best foods available today.
Available: Waitrose Online and Store
Price: £2.25 per box
It’s always enjoyable to discover a small slice of opulence and luxury at an affordable price. Waitrose have grown their Free From range to include a number of delicious sweet treats and eats that afford those who suffer from Coeliac and Gluten Intolerances an opportunity to indulge and enjoy an occasional decadence such as these Gluten Free chocolate brownies. They are a step behind their competitors in this particular market with a more limited range on offer however you do have that feeling of prestige and quality in what they do provide. For intrepid bakers and chefs an option to create your own dark chocolate Gluten Free brownies or to opt for the simpler option and buy the ready made alternative for the same great price. One of the issues of living with this condition is the higher costs of produce attributed entirely to economics and the cost of producing these items which have less of a demand and therefore a higher associated cost to make. But delivering these items at an affordable and crucially, a comparable price to their wheat based alternatives affords an opportunity to indulge a little more on the occasional purchase. And creates a measure of goodwill from those intolerant to wheat knowing they can usually find something a little naughty to pick up and enjoy without feeling turned away for health reasons.
These Gluten Free brownies from Waitrose are remarkably good value given the generous portion size of each cake. There has been an issue with consistency with some of their cakes, the caramel cupcake bites were an enjoyable treat but felt a little stodgy and lose in the base. In contrast their Christmas mince pie had a more rigid density in its casing and a rich fruity filling that made for a tasty alternative to the Costa Mince Tart. Given the growing range of Gluten Free brownie alternatives available today I was curious to see whether Waitrose would be able to compete with a great tasting product that had a similar consistency and finish to its traditional wheat based counterpart. You get a generous portion with each pack, 4 brownies divided into two sealed bags with a generous long shelf life allowing you to pick these up with no rush to consume them in short order. They are certainly a treat, high in all the things you like to look away from when looking at the back of the packet but as an occasional sweet they do make for a great viable alternative and probably one of the best valued products on the market for an item of its type which is remarkable when you consider its being sold by one of the more expensive food stores in the UK. It looks simple and elegant, that touch of class and quality with a simplistic picture on its cover eluding to the flavours inside. Putting the showmanship aside, whether it delivers is the key question and an issue its struggled to overcome before.
It had a nice crust on the outside, one of those small details you do appreciate in a brownie though it lacked that sensation of cutting into the cake and finding a rich, gooey inside. Instead, a rather rigid and dense interior that felt more like a normal cake than a brownie. One of the great indulgences of enjoying this particular type of sweet treats is that certain, illicit thrill from enjoying them. There is very little nutritional goodness to be obtained from eating one, when you find a particularly good brownie with that solid shell and soft interior, you have visions of being a small child being scolded for overindulging. That’s almost entirely absent here, it feels and tastes pleasant to eat. Not too sweet in the sugar and cocoa but just enough to entice your taste buds with a slight earthy note in the centre. You don’t feel particularly overwhelmed in the experience and it makes for a nice alternative to a wheat based variety without leaving a lasting impression. It’s the perfect accompaniment to an English Afternoon Tea. I was pleasantly surprised with the density and rigidity of the overall bake, you can slice it cleanly in half and it holds it’s shape, but equally a little forlorn that it lacked that element of danger with the soft chocolate interior. I wanted an element of showmanship and panache, it just felt and looked incredibly safe. A better consistency and less artificial in contrast to their cupcake varieties, but still, missing that touch of elegance to elevate it beyond any other gluten free brownie on offer.
One of the more positive discoveries of adopting to a wheat free diet is the longer shelf life of products, in baked goods such as these it allows you to indulge over a longer period of time without that need to to consume to avoid use by dates. I really enjoyed the freshly baked cakes and brownies in Edinburgh last year for example but recognised the short period of time to enjoy them. Here, you can store them for a while and enjoy them over a longer period of time. That is definitely a positive to reflect on and appreciate and they are an enjoyable small treat to enjoy as an aside but equally, it must be said lacks a certain flair and style that mean’s they aren’t memorable afterwards. I can recall the assortment of flavours and sensations from eating those gluten free cakes in Scotland almost a year later, with these brownies from Waitrose unfortunately whilst enjoyable in the moment they haven’t left a lasting impression on my palate. They are an improvement in consistency and quality in contrast to their other gluten free products in this particular range, the cupcakes had an almost sponge like texture to them whilst these certainly had the taste and feeling of a typical cake but as noted at the start, as a company, they just feel a step behind nearly every other brand in the UK in providing a wheat free range of products that are both enjoyable and memorable to consume. Enjoyable, but room to improve.
- Long shelf life and use by date.
- Comparable in price to traditional wheat based brownie bites.
- Consistency in density and taste to traditional bakes.
- Generous packet size for what’s on offer.
- Density of cake leaves it feeling more like a cake than a brownie.
- Too little sweetness in the cake mixture.
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