It might seem obvious, but many people’s favorite sweet- chocolate- can pose an unexpected challenge for the gluten-free, allergen sensitive individual. Gluten can sneak into chocolates unexpectedly, so it is always important to read the label. Some of the higher quality chocolates produced in the United States and other places dust machinery or molds with wheat flour, making an initially safe product off limits. Although I am not generally a “contact the manufacturer” type of girl, I will make an exception for chocolates, because I’ve been surprised several times by (appalling) manufacturing procedures not mentioned in ingredient lists.
I was disheartened to find on my first trip to Europe that the ever-popular and available Lindt truffles contained barley malt, and they are not the only ones. On their faq page, Godiva states that “ALL of our products including solid chocolate pieces may contain gluten. Any person with a gluten allergy should NOT consume ANY of our products.” (allergen page). Well, I guess I didn’t want any of your nasty gluten-infested chocolate anyway. Besides, Godiva puts wheat in their chocolate ice cream- who DOES that? I was also unpleasantly surprised by Joseph Schmidt truffles. They are sold in the cute deli in Half Moon Bay, among other places, without ingredient lists. I thought they would be safe, but contacted the company. In 2007 I was told that “None of our Joseph Schmidt truffles or chocolate products are considered safe for people with gluten intolerance because of risk of cross contamination in our facility. Our sister company, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, does make a baking bar of chocolate that is gluten free and manufactured in an exclusive environment (the 9.7oz home baking bars in semisweet, bittersweet, and unsweetened).” Exciting as baking bar chocolate is (cough cough), I was disappointed, to say the least. However, some companies likes See’s reportedly have many gluten-free gourmet chocolate options. There are also many safe options in ordinary candy.
While finding chocolate without gluten can have its challenges, the search becomes even harder for those with multiple allergies. Although it is possible to find some dark chocolates that do not contain milk, they are often produced on the same lines as those that contain milk, soy or nuts. For those who can tolerate no amount of soy (even that in soy lecithin), the options start looking nonexistent. Luckily, recently Enjoy Life came out with a line of gluten-free, allergen-free chocolate bars that don’t even contain soy lecithin. They are called Boom Bars, and are offered in dark chocolate, (rice) milk chocolate, and crispy rice chocolate varieties.
My opinion? The rice milk chocolate is nice, although I tend to prefer dark chocolate. It is slightly better than Hershey’s chocolate, in my opinion, and has a slight crunchiness that may come from sugar crystals or the dehydrated rice milk. I rather like the crunch, but I’m funny that way. The dark chocolate is more satisfying, with more chocolate impact, and also has a slight crunch to it. I haven’t tried the crispy rice variety yet, but look forward to trying it.
The cool thing? You can print out a 75 cent coupon for Enjoy Life Chocolate Boom Bars at Enjoy Life’s site. Whole Foods has also had these bars on sale recently, although the sale may end soon or not be applicable at your local Whole Foods.
Also, if you have been dying to try Enjoy Life allergen-free baking chips (which I must admit are also delicious for snacking), but can’t find them in your local stores, they are currently available on Amazon. Granted, you have to buy them in quantity- possibly enough to start your own gluten-free, allergen-free cookie company, but at least they are available.
These products have been needed by the gluten-free, allergen sensitive community for some time now, and I’m so glad Enjoy Life has stepped up to the plate with these products for gluten-free baking or snacking. Thank you, Enjoy Life! Please share your experiences with these products in the comments!