I was an EXTREMELY lucky gal recently when I received some complimentary gluten-free baked goods from Crave Bakery, to review on my blog. I say lucky because had I not been able to sample them, I may never have known just how great they are! My local Whole Foods Market carries the Crave Cheesecake, but I have never been able to swallow the price tag, $17.99. Even though gluten-free packaged foods have advanced light years since I was first diagnosed with celiac disease in 2005, I am still very much in the “probably tastes like cardboard” state-of-mind! It is difficult to shell out $18 for a cheesecake when you are afraid it will just end up in the trash (like so many of its gluten-free predecessors), and especially in this economy!
I love to cook and I can cook many things, but for the life of me, I cannot bake a cheesecake! I had been eyeing that Crave Cheesecake for months, every time I went into Whole Foods. I even put it in my cart a couple of times because it looked so good, (only to put it back before heading to the checkout lane)! A light bulb went off one day as I was writing another product review. I contacted Crave and asked if they would be interested in sending me a sample to review on my blog (I REALLY had to try that cheesecake, it had become an obsession! My husband actually started to call me “Ralphie” (from the movie “A Christmas Story“). Mike said I was like Ralphie on his quest for an “official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle,” only for Crave’s cheesecake!
Well, if I am Ralphie, then Mike, Sam and Luke were every bit Ralphie’s buddies in this picture (that would be Luke to the far right):
Before I go into my review of Crave’s products, I want to tell you a bit about the bakery and the bakery’s owner, Cameo Edwards. Cameo founded Crave, a San Francisco Bakery, in 2003. Like many other gluten-free entrepreneurs, Cameo had suffered numerous health problems, and the year prior had finally figured out that the culprit was gluten. Cameo was frustrated with the lack of tasty options (cardboard!) that were available on the market, which only left her “craving” for them. Cameo had limited baking experience at the time, but she didn’t let that stop her (I love that attitude! ). Cameo set out to create delicious desserts for herself that where wheat-free, gluten-free, and casein-free (the cheesecake I mentioned above is not dairy-free). After much experimentation, her perfect brownie was born and the rest is history.
Crave’s philosophy is based on choosing simple, high-quality and organic ingredients. Not only are Crave products gluten-free (they test to below 20ppm!!), you will not find any trans-fats or preservatives in their products. Crave supports small, local and family-owned producers, and they only choose ingredients that are animal-conscious, like eggs that come from free-range chickens. Once I read about Crave’s ingredients, the price tag made complete sense. High-quality ingredients (like gluten-free ingredients) cost more, but I would rather my money go there than to our increasing cost of health-care, which is not nearly as delicious!
I am sure everyone is well aware by now how much the films Food, Inc. and King Corn knocked my socks off! Since seeing those eye-opening documentaries just 2 months ago, I have been trying to educate myself on the food industry. What I have seen and read (even if only 10% of it is true), has rattled me to my core. That knowledge has really made me appreciate the companies that do better. Companies that aren’t so into the mass production of “cheap” food (as in using “cheap” ingredients like HFCS, etc.) that they skimp on the quality of ingredients they use. I would rather eat out less and cook more so I can splurge here and there on treats like Crave’s cheesecake!
I better move along and mention Crave’s other gluten-free products! We also sampled the Vanilla Cupcakes, Monster Cookie, Dark Chocolate Brownies, Lemon Tart, Apple Frangipane, and Mama Z’s Chocolate Cake (they even do GF wedding cakes. Makes me want to fly to San Fran and re-new my vows!). They were all absolutely delicious! The four that REALLY impressed me were the cupcakes, Mama Z’s chocolate cake, the cheesecake and the brownies, simply for the reaction they received by my little boys! I have compiled a photo montage for this portion of my review!
This is how the cupcakes look in their original form. The flavor is great and the cake itself is beautifully moist.
The Crave products arrived the day before Sam had a birthday party to attend. It was perfect timing because I had just run out of my stash of frozen homemade cupcakes that I keep on hand to grab and decorate as needed for birthday parties, etc. I had to add icing because I like to embellish the boy’s cupcakes with figurines, etc. and they needed a little extra icing “glue” to hold them in place. The party was on Super Bowl Sunday and the birthday boys (twins) were having a football themed party, so I tried to “match up” Sam and Luke’s cupcake.
The football player on the left was made tilted, I swear!
Sam was feeling really “cool” because he had overheard a couple kids asking where Sam got his cupcake.
Luke would not remove his football “dude” for anything!
One of the twins’ football themed birthday cakes.
Mike and I took the Mama Z’s Chocolate cake to the party for us to split, but unfortunately for us, we didn’t get much! ↓↓
Luke could eat any chocoholic under the table!
The following pictures are not the best but it happened so fast, I did not have time to set up my shots! I had pulled the cheesecake out of the freezer to thaw so I could take my pictures and then we could sample it. While it was on the counter thawing, I stepped away to fold some laundry. Apparently, Sam took an interest in the cheesecake and decided to taste test before I was ready! There are two funny things about this. One, Sam NEVER grabs a bite of anything without asking first (he is very much a “by the book” kid). And two, Sam’s “sweet tooth” is geared toward candy, most specifically Surf Sweets Sour Gummy Worms. Sam has never been much of a baked “sweets” kid, let alone cheesecake. That being said, this is the scene I walked in on:
OMG, he is cheesecake “drunk!”
My first instinct was to freak out because I hadn’t yet taken any photographs, but that feeling quickly faded and was replaced with pure joy and laughter!
So, I decided to get creative with what was left of my cheesecake:
I would be lost without my cookie cutters! The crust is unbelievable, made with almond meal and cinnamon, yum.
Mike has already requested Crave’s cheesecake for his birthday this year. This would also be great for holiday parties, etc.
The Dark Chocolate Brownie and the Monster Cookie are perfectly packaged to throw in your child’s lunch box or to send to school for a special celebration, etc. I am going to order a case to keep in my freezer! Seriously, 50 individually wrapped organic, preservative-free and trans-fat free brownies (and they are a hefty size!) for $60.00. That is only $1.20 a brownie! How much are regular candy bars going for these days??
My “Cookie Monster” LOVED Crave’s Cookie Monster!
I am not really a lemon dessert person (but love Key Lime pie, go figure), but I was impressed by the balanced lemon flavor in this tart. Very clean and the perfect palette cleanser (not like some lemon tarts that just make you pucker)! My picture doesn’t really convey the size of the tart, but they are perfectly sized for two. Mike and I shared this on Valentine’s Day (after he cooked me dinner!).
Yummy, “Autumn in a pastry shell!”
Interested in trying some of Crave’s goodies? Crave has offered a 12-pack of their individually wrapped Dark Chocolate Brownies to one of my lucky readers!
**This Giveaway is now Closed**
I really enjoyed the responses everyone gave to the Cerealvit giveaway, so I would like to extend that same dialogue to this giveaway. Crave is also interested in what gluten-free consumers would love to see come available on the market! Companies are listening, so lets take advantage and get our wishes out in the open!
To enter for a chance to win a 12-pack of Crave Bakery’s Individually Wrapped Dark Chocolate Brownies, leave a comment to this post about what products you would love to see a gluten-free version of come to market.
For bonus entries to this contest:
- Follow @Cravebakery on Twitter. (2 bonus entries)
- Tweet about this contest. Be sure to include a link to this post and include @adventuresgfmom in your Tweet. (2 bonus entries)
- Become a fan of Crave Bakery on Facebook. (2 bonus entries)
If you are a blogger:
- Mention this giveaway in a post (and include a link back). (5 bonus entries)
For all bonus entries: Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know which bonus entry tasks you have completed and qualify for.
Using a Random Number Generator, I will pick the winner on Friday, March, 5, 2010.
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