Wegman’s Gluten Free Brownie Mix Review

It’s that time of the year.  Halloween, school bake sales and even birthday parties are fast approaching.  You know what that means right?  Cupcakes, cookies, brownies and candies will be the talk of the town.  So what’s a food allergy Frugalista Mom to do?  So far, there are two options I am considering.
Option 1: Say NO to every event and hide my kids inside the house.
Option 2: Challenge myself and make the above mentioned treats only now Gluten, eggs, soy, nut, peanut and dairy free.
Though the first option seems to be the easier thing to do, I think my children will appreciate it if I choose the later. Okay ladies, I am not running for any “Mother of the Year” award here. I simply want my children’s transition to their new diet as easy as possible.  How hard will it be to make a a top 8 free Brownie anyway?
I may not be a trained pastry chef but with more than 10 years of baking from scratch almost every week plus some catering in between, I’d say, I should be confident in my skills right?
For starters, I decided to try some ready made brownie mix. Hmmm.. I’m seeing some eyebrows raised here. Why would a self professed baker use something out of the box? Well, it is because right now, my food budget prohibits me from buying all the different types of flour most recipe books require me to have. Since specialty items are crazy expensive, I invested on the most basic such as egg replacement powder,  xanthan gum and margarine (dairy and soy free).
While shopping at Wegman’s last weekend, I came across this Double Chocolate Brownie Mix. (Take note, as of 2014, this product was recalled and reintroduced. It is now labelled as “contains soy”). At $3.49 a box that makes an 8×8 inch batch, I think, it will not hurt to try it.  After all, it’s half the price of the All Purpose Baking flour that still requires extra pricey additions.
         I made these brownies last Monday. There were extra steps such as melting the included chocolate chips and beating the eggs with a mixer. Nothing complicated. The instructions were clear and so easy to follow. Instead of the required 2 eggs and butter, I used the egg replacement (prepared according to the package instructions) and the nondairy, soy free magarine. The batter looked good and had the consistency of a regular brownie batter.
         After about 15 mins, my kitchen smelled great.  I was so excited how these will turn out. Oven timer sounded off at the minimum baking time and when I checked, the sides seem to be done but the middle isn’t firm enough.  I kept on checking until the maximum baking time.  Since the toothpick test isn’t the best indication of doneness according to the package, I decided to take it out right after the timer went off the second time.  The center looks set and perfect but the sides are in the borderline of getting burned.
        Now the verdict.  The brownies looked darker that the regular brownies and they are not burnt.  It didn’t have the cakelike texture and can’t hold it’s shaped when cut.  It’s very gooey and chewy just like a japanese mochi or rice cake.  A little greasy or oily too.  The taste however, is phenominal.  Not too sweet and full of chocolate goodness.  It passed the kids’ taste test with flying colors.  In our home, flavor is much more important than looks.
        Technically, this treat didn’t look anything like a brownie, so my children started calling it the “Blackie”.  It was devoured within an hour and they actually asked me to make it again which is a good sign. For now, I would say this Wegman’s brownie mix will have a place in my pantry.  It will take a few more alterations aesthetic wise but as for the taste, it is a keeper.
      Wow! I just realized that making a food allergy free brownie is not as easy as a regular one.  Even for a boxed mix, it can be complicated.  So here I am in a quest to find an affordable and delicious brownie so that my children will not feel deprived and actually enjoy as a treat.
      Today, I have decided to make a batch of brownies weekly and post it every Thursday.  I definitely need your help in this quest  – your IDEAS that is.  If you have a go-to brand of brownie mix or a favorite recipe you’d like to share, please let me know at thefrugalistamom@gmail.com. Just make sure that it is Gluten, Egg, Dairy and Soy free.  I’m sure there’s a group out there waiting for to make that coveted dessert.
       Hope to hear from you soon.
– Roz

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