Mandy’s Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Muffin

As long as I can remember I’ve thought ill of people that choose to remove certain types of food from their diet. This was typified whilst I tucked into a huge scrambled egg and Cumberland sausage on toast at Granny Dowbekin’s Tearoom and a couple walked in and proudly exclaimed “we’re gluten free” – as if it were a badge of honour. I must admit I thought “you plonkers” as it seemed it was a self-imposed and unnecessary flagellation and just an excuse to differentiate themselves from the people that were enjoying very basic feed as myself.

All that’s changed after today as I visited a gluten free fair in Ellesmere Port. I was completely amazed by the sheer number of people packed into the town hall with arms strained carrying the vast quantities of gluten free products. Of course there were breads, biscuits, cakes but also gluten free meat products as well as beer. I spent a pretty penny there. Just £1 was spent at my friend’s stall. He and Mandy run Gluten Free Food Products where they largely retail their own products.

I arrived late. Who knew there was more than one “Civic Way” in the Wirral? Within the first hour of opening they had sold out of many of their quiches, pizza bases and muffins. Having secured one of the last few remaining double chocolate treats.  I now find myself three quarters the way through having written just 276 words. And am now convinced gluten free was the way forward after being subjected to the sweet chocolaty aroma that wafted up as I opened the unglamorous packaging.

In terms of flavour it’s interesting to compare home-made fair with that of United Biscuits and their McVities Double Chocolate Muffin – especially in the light of reading Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. The muffin seems so much lighter, but the flavour was markedly different from that of factory-made muffins. There wasn’t the psycho-chemical perfection honed by these companies where they operate a slide rule approach to recipes. They balance fat against sugar and salt. If your reduce one of those three core ingredients you have to increase one of the other two. There’s a science involved here that PHDs earn large sums to get us to eat more “bad” food and earn their shareholders even more money they often don’t even need. With Mandy’s muffins however, they’re just made how she likes, and that’s it. I doubt she has a PHD but I feel she has your best interests at heart more than United Biscuits or any other multinational does.

I still did feel that that there was a sharpness to it, perhaps that was from the sugar and salt. I may have liked it to be less overt, but I’m left wondering what would be left – just a mellow chocolate flavour and that’s it. If you’re having a double chocolate muffin then it needs to be sweet and indulgent. And that’s what you have here, but without feeling bloated.

Often after eating wheat-based products I am left feeling jaded. Perhaps it’s too soon to tell. But I’m certainly not enduring any after affects, other than that usual sugar rush.

I did enjoy the muffin, but the true test of them is that I couldn’t eat more than one. If it was a Mcvities one I’m sure they would have manufactured something chemically addictive that I couldn’t resist. I, however, want to find out what gluten-free savoury stuff they have and not consume more than my body would appreciate. Being satiated and not over-indulgent is the key, and that’s what you get here.

p.s. we’d also like to try this gluten free chia muffin (hint!)

Lee McCoy

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