A matcha spice blend enhanced with ginger and lemon can provide flavor and color to an otherwise “vanilla” gluten-free layer cake.

Flavor forecasting

In looking to the “next iteration of flavor trends” as unveiled in the 2016 McCormick Flavor Forecast, Gary Patterson, CEC, PCIII, FMP, executive chef, McCormick for Chefs, Hunt Valley, Md., turns to pulses and seasoning blends for gluten-free formulations, which stand to benefit from trendy flavor boosts.

“As an industry as a whole, we’re looking at allergens and sensitivities,” he said.

Blends with benefits are among the company’s leading trends, and Mr. Patterson is singularly impressed by the chia seed. “It’s pretty mild with a slightly nutty flavor that takes on the flavor of what you’re working with,” he said. The seeds provide a super-high protein source and can be added as a seasoning to amp up a gluten-free profile.

“You can use it as a crust on the outside of meat instead of traditional breadcrumbs. You’re taking your seasoning blend and adding something to it instead of adding it to flour.”

These wheat-free bars star dark chocolate chips, cinnamon, vanilla, dried cranberries, sea salt and popped amaranth.

A matcha spice blend enhanced with ginger and lemon, for example, can provide flavor and color — along with green tea’s health halo — to an otherwise “vanilla” gluten-free layer cake.

Ancestral flavors, another top trend, can also shine in gluten-free formulations. A dessert recipe developed by McCormick stars popped amaranth, an ancient grain, paired with almond butter, oats (gluten-free certified), cranberries, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt. Topped with dark chocolate and drizzled with dulce de leche, the absence of flour in these bars goes unnoticed.

Mr. Patterson knows that chefs are ultimately looking for their gluten-free dishes to taste great — and he admits it’s too often a trade-off in texture and desirability.

“If it’s an oatmeal raisin cookie, for example, add more cinnamon, more vanilla to make it taste more indulgent — to distract the consumer from some of the other things such as a different texture, or it being either too dry or too moist,” Mr. Patterson said. 

No matter the formulation, he said, the final gluten-free item must taste great.