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Baked By Melissa: Gluten-free cupcakes taste test

If you're going to break up with gluten, you may need a lot of comfort cupcakes.

Since gluten's demonization circa 2011, more New York City bakeries are transforming guilty pleasures into gluten-free versions to accommodate customers with health concerns. About 1 percent of Americans suffer from celiac disease, while others claim a gluten intolerance -- but the opportunity to enjoy baked goods like the 99% without celiac is a right, not a privilege.

Baked By Melissa has joined the list of NYC-based eateries to jump aboard the gluten-free movement by opening a new location dedicated exclusively to gluten-free treats at 526 Seventh Ave. between 38th and 39th streets. Eight new cupcake flavors were added to the tasty roster, all $1 each and under 55 calories.

Most dessert-lovers argue that gluten-free options lack the flavor and consistency of the original treats.

amNewYork staffers performed a blind taste test to determine which treat they’d rather munch on — gluten-free or "gluten-full." Each staffer chose a flavor, ate the gluten-free cupcake and its glutinous counterpart, and we recorded their reactions while they (mostly) enjoyed the mystery baked goods.

Most tasters correctly guessed which cupcake was which: gluten can't hide! Here are the sugary results of our sweet taste test.

Triple Chocolate Fudge vs. Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cup

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cup:
Photo Credit: Baked by Melissa

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cup: "I really like the consistency, it's not spongy and it has a peanut aftertaste ... It's softer than a regular cupcake! Overall, you'd expect something that's almost overwhelming, but it's just right. I liked it better because it tasted like peanut butter.

Triple Chocolate Fudge: "This is a good cupcake, too. It has a very soft consistency, I like that. The filling feels like an aftertaste in the sense that everything tasted very uniform, but the filling comes in later."

The Winner: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cup

-- Emilio Guerra, vice president of digital content and former professional restaurant critic, pre-gluten wars

Triple Chocolate Fudge vs. Gluten-Free Chocolate Marshmallow

Gluten-Free Chocolate Marshmallow:
Photo Credit: Baked by Melissa

Gluten-Free Chocolate Marshmallow: "I hate this word, but it's moist. The icing is hardcore and the cupcake part is a little thin. If you eat it in one bite like sushi it works a lot better."

Triple Chocolate Fudge: "It's definitely drier, which is normally not a positive. It's not dirt-like but, well, a little dirt-like. The icing is so good."

The Winner: Triple Chocolate Fudge

-- Polly Higgins, editor

Cinnamon Apple Pie vs. Gluten-Free Cinnamon

Gluten-Free Cinnamon:
Photo Credit: Baked by Melissa

Gluten-Free Cinnamon: "It's definitely drier and tastes artificial, like Splenda vanilla. The cake is drier and doesn't taste like American cake. It's more like an Italian cake, which is dry and disappointing."

Cinnamon Apple Pie: "It's super moist. It's soft and crumbly, and the frosting is the right amount of sweet with lots of cinnamon and cream cheese."

The Winner: Cinnamon Apple Pie

-- Brittany Hamlett-Concepcion, co-cupcake tasting coordinator

Deconstructed Cookie Dough and Cookie Dough vs. Gluten-Free Classic Yellow

Gluten-Free Classic Yellow:
Photo Credit: Baked by Melissa

Gluten-Free Classic Yellow: "Mmm, grainy! But not a good mmm, just considering. The chocolate frosting is fudgey and thick, like birthday cake frosting. Eating it in one bite makes it better."

Deconstructed Cookie Dough: "It sticks together and it's denser and kind of the perfect cupcake. I'd eat this even if I had celiac disease, it's worth the risk. Do we have more of these?"

The winner: Cookie Dough

-- Melissa Kravitz, lifestyle editor and gluten glutton

Classic Red Velvet vs. Gluten-Free Red Velvet

Gluten-Free Red Velvet:
Photo Credit: Baked By Melissa

Gluten-Free Red Velvet: "There's no real density, the flavor is not as rich and it doesn't have the same oomph as the other one."

Classic Red Velvet: "It's dense with a nice creamy, buttery touch. It sticks to your mouth and has a heavy mouthfeel."

The winner: Classic Red Velvet.

-- Cristian Salazar, News Editor

Gluten-Free Tie-Dye vs. Classic Tie-Dye

Gluten-Free Tie-Dye:
Photo Credit: Baked by Melissa

Gluten-Free Tie-Dye: "The cupcake part is a little grainy and does not have good flavor. The frosting is sugary."

Classic Tie-Dye: "I can taste the gluten. And the frosting has more vanilla flavor!

The Winner: Classic Tie-Dye

-- Georgia Kral, features manager


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