If you live in Tampa, are suffering from a sweet tooth and aren’t down with the dairy it can be very difficult to find something decent to satisfy your craving. There is the carrot cake at Trang Viet and…well, not much else. About a year ago I started hearing rumblings about this small bakery right up the street from me called Stacy’s Gluten Free Goodies. Stacy’s offers a variety of sweets all slathered with a giant sized side of NO. I’m talking no gluten, no wheat, no eggs, no dairy, no soy and no nuts. My assumption was that these “goodies” would also have another no, as in no taste. So I avoided the shop (this was made easier by the fact that it is only open from 10-5 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 10-4 on Saturdays and Tuesdays). I kept on avoiding it until one day, in a fit of sugary panic, I glided in and asked for a vanilla cupcake with raspberry icing.
Vanilla Cupcake with Raspberry Icing
Let’s take a short break for a history lesson. Stacy’s Gluten Free Goodies was born when owner and baker, Stacy, had a 2 year old son that was suffering from developmental delays resembling autism. As he neared the age of 3, those delays became even more apparent. He wasn’t looking people in the eye, his speech was off and he was very introverted around other kids. Through speech therapy Stacy’s son showed some improvements, but not enough. The boy’s doctor suggested that the family test him for food sensitivities. The results were a bit shocking. He was sensitive to gluten, wheat, dairy and eggs. Stacy immediately put him on a diet free of those foods. Over time, those delays began to subside. Her son began to talk, make eye contact and socialize. Seeing the power of this dietary change on her son made Stacy realize that other families might be in the same boat. So, she opened an allergen free bakery.
Alright, back to present day. Here I was, standing right in the middle of this allergen free bakery ready to bite into a cupcake I had fought so long to avoid. The cake was a bit heavy, not the light fluffy thing that you get when you load it up with milk and eggs. It was also very moist. I’m talking to the point where I had to lick my fingers when I was done because the cupcake left behind tracks. This isn’t normal for a lot of vegan baked goods as they tend to be overly dry.
My overall impression of the dessert was that it was a decent cupcake. Aside from the moistness, the cupcake had a nice flavor. It was not too sweet. It was, however, not perfect. That was the fault of the icing. I know from my own experience that vegan icing is one difficult art form to perfect. It either ends up too runny or too sugary. I need something in the middle. I expected a bakery that sells their products to the public to have found that perfect balance. Unfortunately I found that Stacy’s does not. The icing is way too sweet for my liking. It also lacked all discernible hints of raspberry that I could detect in it. Total icing let down.
I’ve returned to Stacy’s a few times since then and I keep going back to the iced items (they look so damn good). But every time I take a bite I immediately hear Helmet’s “Aftertaste” blaring in my head (“I let you down again”). There was the ginger snap sandwich cookie with icing that I had a brief fling with. I loved the ginger and applesauce flavor of the cookie, didn’t love the icing overkill. Then there was the strawberry shortcake cupcake. The strawberry filling and cupcake were great together, the icing like a third wheel that wrecked the vibe.
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake
My favorite Stacy’s item to date has been the blueberry muffin. It was super dense and moist and had a nice crumbly top that was extremely flavorful. And there was no icing on it. Coincidence? Probably not. I just need to remember that next time I am staring longingly at all those iced up desserts.
I’ve had the perfect vegan dessert. Stacy’s is not it. But that doesn’t mean that Stacy’s can’t satisfy my sweet tooth. It just means that if I’m not careful (and diligent and militaristic and steadfast) Stacy’s will over satisfy any sugar craving I can possibly muster. Stick to the non-iced items my friend.
Ice it (wait don’t) to the sounds of Team Me’s “F Is For Faker”. This is the debut single for the Norwegian group who is planning a US visit for SXSW. The band is currently working on their second album which will be released sometime this year.