Genius Sans Gluten French Baked Goods Product Review
May 21, 2016
Ever since Genius first gave me the heads up they would be coming to Germany, complete with a sampling of its entire German product line, I was smitten. Fluffy, delicious bread that was just like what I'd been eating nearly my entire life, before I even understood what gluten was. What celiac snatched away two years ago, Genius helped bring back. Now I've gotten a taste beyond just good bread... and I want more.
It wasn't until we were practically on our way to our holiday in France last month that it dawned on me: Genius was in France! With products catered to French tastes, visions of daily croissants danced in head while I plotted out every Carrefour within a 20 km radius of our destination. I knew of the pains au chocolat, which had won the Free From Food Breakfast Award in 2015, and have lamented that such a heralded treat was not to be in the German product line-up. But I discovered that this was not all. There was also brioche (one of my very favorite French breads) and Briochettes aux pépites de chocolat, which look to be mini sweet baguette-like rolls with chocolate chips (sadly, they were never found). If you too pine for the days of that illusive, gluten-filled texture of baked goods, prepare yourself as I share with you what I did find...
Who doesn't love croissants? Flaky and buttery, they have the magical power to transport you to a little cafe along the Seine, people-watching all the chic Parisians. That texture and flavor feels so intrinsically tied to gluten, I feared I would never enjoy this French treat again - and all of the store-bought gluten-free attempts at this coveted baked good confirmed this. Until France. So I voraciously tore through every store purporting to carry the line, buying up every Genius croissant that hit the shelves. Technically, these are made without butter (dairy-free for the lactose-intolerant), but after a quick warm-up in the oven, they obtain that perfect balance of light and flaky, greasy and rich, essentially feeling buttery without the actual butter. Since I can indulge in that creamy yellow stuff France does perhaps better than anyone else, I enjoyed my croissants with a healthy smear of salted French butter, which melted into the delicate layers and made this exceptional treat even more of a treat.
Since first discovering brioche on my study abroad summer in high school, they have easily become one of my favorite baked goods. That wonderful texture paired with the light sweetness was my ultimate indulgence, and one that always transported me back to my first trip to Europe. Genius's brioche is a bit different, texture-wise from what I remember about the bread during my gluten-eating days - a bit more dense and spongy - but still completely indulgent and satisfying for a poor celiac like myself that can't actually indulge in 'the real thing'. The slightly sweet loaf is a bit like a cross between a poundcake and an angel food cake, similarly enjoyed as a simple slice with little to no accoutrements. That said, had I scored more of these loaves, I have a feeling they would make the best homemade brioche French toast I will ever have. Here's hoping one day to make that dream a reality...
Pain au Chocolat
I am at a loss for words with this one. I don't think I've tasted anything quite this wonderful since having to be gluten-free, period. It's got the flaky brilliance of a croissant, then the dark, slightly bitter sweetness of dark chocolate, oozing out after being melted in the oven. One bite and it was easy to see why this is an award-winning pastry in the gluten-free world. Breakfast, snack, dessert - this amazing little piece of gluten-free goodness steps in whenever you could possibly want, *ahem*, need it. It is important to note that dairy-containing products are a rarity in the Genius line-up, and while I'm so sorry for those of you who can't get on with lactose, I am supremely happy they made the exception with this one. The chocolate is so creamy and decadent, I'm not sure the same effect could have been achieved without it. I couldn't stop dreaming about the pain au chocolat ever since I heard of its existence, and now that I know what I'm missing, I ask all of your to join me in a letter-writing campaign to Genius to bring these to Germany as well!
Even in France, where these have been on the market for quite awhile, they are still quite hard to find. I came across the croissants a couple of times, but the brioche and pain au chocolat, only once - not to mention I never even saw the briochettes. Perhaps like Germany, more stock is focused in the larger, more metropolitan cities, but it seems clear that if the demand is there, we should let them know. Contact Genius directly, comment on its posts and most importantly, but the products you can find so they know there are gluten-free eaters out there looking for better taste in their fresh-baked goods. Perhaps one day, we can enjoy a whole range of amazing gluten-free pastries and breads, available at any German supermarket (hey, a girl can dream, right?).
Take part in #CeliacAwarenessMonth by exploring the hashtag and sharing more about the disease through resources like advocacy organization Beyond Celiac. Don't forget to tag your positive gluten-free food photos and experiences with #celiacdoesntsuck - and help spread the gluten-free goodness!