2016 Update: It’s been a number of years since we’ve sampled the Namaste Baking Mixes (as you may have noted in the date!), so it’s possible that some formulas have changed. But to the best of my knowledge, they are pretty much the same – just the packaging has been updated and new varieties have been added.
All Namaste Baking Mixes are made in their very own gluten-free and top allergen-free facility – this means no dairy, eggs, nuts, peanuts, soy, or wheat. To accommodate the Canadian top allergens, they’re free of sesame and sulphites, too!
But please note that though Namaste Baking Mixes are egg-free and vegan, most of the mixes call for eggs and if eggs were the recommended preparation then that is how we made them. We taste-tested the following varieties of Namaste Baking Mixes:
This mix received the ultimate test, a potluck dinner. Five other desserts were displayed, including a fancy plate with chocolate-chip studded slices of chocolate cake (from an insanely expensive grocery store might I add), and not a special dieter in the house. I set out the pan of Namaste Brownies prepared just two hours before, and crossed my fingers.
At first, I watched the brownies like a hawk to see if anyone was taking, but not a single dessert had been touched. I finally relaxed and mingled. Within an hour I heard, “who brought these brownies” followed by a “those brownies are awesome”. Two more “these are good” comments and an empty pan confirmed success! Did I mention, only two of the chocolate cake slices were eaten. The full fat, dairy laden chocolate cake among a crowd of cheese eaters remained practically untouched. Yet the wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, potato and soy free brownies vanished. Of course, I didn’t mention the special diet advantages. Why ruin their indulgence and blow my cover?
I left a few at home for us to sample as well. These brownies had a very dark chocolate taste, which was offset slightly by the sprinkling of chocolate chips that I couldn’t help but throw on prior to baking. My husband agreed, they were very good, second only to mine. He won some “brownie” points for that. I must admit, I wouldn’t notice that these were gluten-free. Texture-wise, they fell right in between “cakey” and “fudgey”, and had a great melt-in-your-mouth quality.
One bite of these blondies and I proclaimed this sweet-sounding company to be evil, pure evil! Dense and “fudgy”, Namaste’s Blondies were unlike any bar I had ever tasted. The soft and thick interior melted in my mouth like warm cookie dough. The intense sweetness and vanilla flavor sparked my taste buds as they shouted “dessert, a real dessert!” As if the over-the-top indulgence of the blondies weren’t a sinful enough pleasure in its own right, a sugary crust enclosed the moist interior. Going back for a second square, and a third, it seemed I wasn’t alone as the sizable pan was further and further receded each time I returned.
And then it suddenly dawned on me, “wait a minute, these are gluten-free?” Wrapped up in the shear pleasure of this treat, I became completely absent-minded of their “free-from” nature. These were quite simply one of the most delicious bar treats I had ever tasted, period. I would put them head to head with a butter-laden, wheat-stuffed, made-from-scratch bar any day!
Now that I had labeled this sugary-sweet pan of dessert as my willpower’s arch-nemesis, who else could I share them with? The mix makes a very generous 9 x 13 inch pan of these blondies, which stand nearly 2 inches tall each, and are quite dense. We needed some help. While we could have polished them off ourselves, I somehow didn’t think that would be such a good idea. So, what does one do when they have too many guilty, indulgent, snackable desserts on hand? Of course, take them to the gym to share! Evil I tell you … pure evil.
Realistically, if I hadn’t known these were gluten-free, I wouldn’t have guessed. My husband certainly didn’t, he just cleaned his plate with a smile and headed back for seconds. The pancakes didn’t break apart or crumble one bit, as gluten-free foods often do. I also loved that they had no added sugar – allowing me to enjoy them with nut butter or with just a touch of maple syrup or jam for a still respectable breakfast.
As an added bonus, the pancakes froze very well. The first batch made more than I had anticipated, so I wrapped a few up. A couple of weeks later when the munchies hit, I took a few out and popped them in the toaster. For a savory snack, I slathered them with peanut butter and they were spot on.
Muffin: These lightly sweetened muffins are perfect as is; yet they also provide the perfect backdrop for any of your current muffin cravings. For fun, I threw in a handful or two of dried cranberries. They rose beautifully, and looked picture-perfect sitting on the pastry platter. I split one open and expected it to break apart a bit, due to the gluten-free nature. To my pleasant surprise not a single little crumb fell from these sun-kissed gems. The texture was wonderfully light and fluffy. To taste they had just a slightly different feel than wheat based muffins, but my husband didn’t notice. He inhaled two before I even sat down with my first muffin.
The flavor was very mild, just a touch sweet with a hint of real vanilla bean. Some allergen-friendly baked goods have an odd bitter taste that is masked with an abundance of sugar, but not these. They were absolutely perfect with tea. I only wish I had another package…suddenly I am craving blueberry muffins with a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar!
The package contains enough mix for two full-size pizza crusts, and is easy to close up for storage. In preparation, I discovered an odd bonus to its gluten-free state. Though I didn’t have problems with the dough staying together, it is easy to break apart by hand. This made dough reshaping very easy. I was able to re-form my pizza crust into a perfectly presentable circle (rather than my usual lopsided, rounded-off, rectangle). However, the less cohesive behavior did make it a touch more difficult to roll the dough very thin.
The crust didn’t really brown, but it was definitely done, and as I discovered when slicing, this was more like a flatbread than a yeasty pizza crust. It lacked that familiar crisp exterior and chewy center. However, the crust had a good bread-like texture, and it stayed together well.
The overall flavor was unique, but not one I could easily describe. The flours offered a taste of their own that was mild, and offset slightly by the general mix of Italian herbs. It wasn’t bad, but didn’t really excite me as a pizza crust either. My husband liked the flavor, but said it felt like he was carb-loading when he ate it. I too would prefer that crisp, chewy crust that alas is so difficult to create gluten-free.
This is a basic cookie mix, ready for whatever add-ins you like. To keep with the truly allergen-free theme, I added chocolate chips from Enjoy Life Foods for the first batch. And just as I pulled the first sheet from the oven, my husband’s cookie radar activated. He immediately piped up from the next room with a very polite, “Can I have a cookie?” His first taste obviously went well, as he returned to the kitchen twice within the hour to sneak two more sizable cookies. He gave them a big thumbs up.
As someone with brown rice flour experience, I did note the slightly different feel to the flours, but my husband was none the wiser. For a gluten-free cookie, I was amazed by how well they stayed together. Not the least bit crumbly… well just a few errant crumbs, but no more than your average cookie. I enjoyed the taste and texture as well… lightly sweet and soft, with a nice crisp around the edges but a soft and forgiving middle. They were thick, with a wonderful combination of chewy and cakey.
Feeling pretty confident about the overall appeal of these cookies, I baked up a second batch, jumbo style to take to my parents. They worked perfectly as large cookies, still holding an absolutely wonderful texture. My parents, who both eat wheat, loved them! Everyone sat around the table chatting and noshing away until every last cookie was gone.
Go Dairy Free reviewer Sarah trialed out the cake varieties. She has some gluten-free family members and turns to Namaste Baking Mixes often. The following are her reviews …
Our family decided to make the banana cake variation described on the Namaste website and make the cake into cupcakes. We added three mashed bananas along with the eggs and oil, and we used soy milk instead of water. The cupcakes turned out wonderfully – very moist and dense, almost more of a banana muffin than a cupcake. I am not a fan of light, crumbly, boxed cake mix cakes, so I especially liked the texture and consistency of these cupcakes.
Once again, we made cupcakes instead of cake – mini cupcakes this time. I frosted them with peanut butter frosting and we took them to a fall party. (No one at the party had peanut allergies.) Everyone remarked on how rich and chocolaty the cupcakes were. They were a big hit. We did have some leftovers, and they stayed moist for the next few days until we finished them off.
My dad will be the first person to tell you that he is not a cake person, and he loves Namaste Spice Cake. My mom made it for his birthday and topped it with a dairy-free caramel icing. We all agreed it reminded us of sticky toffee pudding. Since we had tried the spice cake mix plain before, I decided to try the carrot cake variation printed on the package. I added one cup of shredded carrots and some walnuts but no currants or raisins. It made a great carrot cake, but the next day I noticed that the carrots had become discolored. The cake still tasted fine, but it looked more like zucchini cake instead of carrot cake. I didn’t have another package to retest the results, so it might have been my faulty carrots.
Certifications: Namaste Baking Mixes are Certified Vegan, Certified Gluten Free, Non-GMO Verified, and Certified Kosher Pareve. Select varieties are Certified Organic.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, Namaste Baking Mixes are dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian. Nonetheless, always read the ingredient statement and check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.
For More Product Information: Visit the Namaste Foods website at www.namastefoods.com.