News & Politics

Kids Pick The Best Gluten-Free Cupcake in Washington

Bakers respond to the rise of celiac disease with a bevy of tasty options

Georgetown Cupcake’s gluten-free treat was the favorite of our tasters, Anna Niepold, Dana Musser, Caroline Wilkes, Ben Vacher, Lia Musser, Abigail Herrada, and Dylan Herrada. Photograph by Sean McCormick.

Until recently, it was hard to find tasty gluten-free cupcakes. But with celiac disease—the condition that causes gluten intolerance—on the rise, bakers are responding. We found wheat-free chocolate confections at many cupcake shops and grocery stores.

But do these cupcakes taste good? We gathered a group of children, ages five to nine, some of whom are gluten-intolerant, for a tasting.

Georgetown Cupcake’s gluten-free “lava fudge” version—made with rice, soy, and garbanzo-bean flour—took first place for both flavor and appearance. All seven kids liked the flower-topped vanilla cream-cheese frosting, not to mention the liquid fudge inside ($2.75 each, $29 a dozen).

Moms were pleased that the close runner-up was a “really yummy” frozen chocolate cupcake with rich chocolate icing widely available at Whole Foods ($6.99 for a four-pack).

The cocoa bomb from Hello Cupcake ($3 each, $33 a dozen) also won high marks for its rich cake, as did the sweet from Free for All, a certified home-kitchen business that specializes in allergy-friendly cupcakes (minimum order: a dozen for $32).

and Red Velvet Cupcakery both got a lukewarm reception, as did the cupcake homemade from Betty Crocker’s gluten-free mix. The swirl of vanilla buttercream atop the cake from Cupcakes Actually was said to be “hard” and “too much” by some kids, though some adults loved it. The group was put off by the sliced-almond garnish on Buzz Bakery’s offering. And there is such a thing as too sweet for kids. That was the reaction to the vegan Sticky Fingers cupcake, which came in last.

One comment not heard: that the celiac-safe treats tasted different than regular cupcakes. We agreed. The best wheat-free cupcakes are good for any crowd.

This article appears in the July 2011 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.