Food Notes: Amaru Confections in Boise makes traditional and gluten-free treats

doland@idahostatesman.comAugust 30, 2013 

When Aimee and Chris Wyatt were searching for a name for their bakery business, they turned to a family joke. Chris discovered a restaurant called Amaru on a trip to Peru. He was so impressed with it he talked about it all the time, Aimee says, elevating it to legendary status.

“We would tease each other that when we opened our business we would call it Amaru,” Aimee says. “It turns out we did.”

The Wyatts started Amaru Confections in Denver, where Aimee attended the Culinary Arts Institute. (She also attended Lenotre Institute in France to learn techniques for working with chocolate.)

They brought the business to Boise in 2006 to be closer to family.

That’s about when awareness of gluten intolerance and celiac disease started growing.

“I’m not gluten-intolerant, but I have friends whose daughter is,” Aimee says. “I made a gluten-free cake for a birthday so all of the kids could eat the same cake.”

The Wyatts decided to focus part of their business on targeting gluten-free and vegan customers. They now make traditional baked goods and wedding cakes that are gluten-free, gluten-free and vegan, or just plain vegan.

Gluten intolerance is an autoimmune reaction to prolamine, the protein found in gluten that limits the ability of the small intestine to absorb nutrients from food. The condition is a spectrum, with people experiencing different problems depending on their sensitivity.

The most extreme example is celiac disease, which causes pain and discomfort in the digestive tract and is related to more serious conditions, including cancer of the small intestine.

The only treatment is a completely gluten-free diet — which is hard because you must give up anything made with a gluten grain. That’s wheat, oats, rye, barley (yes, that means most beers), graham, spelt, other wheat alternatives, and more. Because gluten is what holds baked goods together, it’s tricky to make things like muffins and breads. Without the right touch, they fall apart.

Aimee Wyatt figured it out and now has quite the gluten-free following. The couple recently moved Amaru Confections into a larger space at 217 S. Roosevelt St., Boise.

Adding a dedicated gluten-free room was a no-brainer, she says. GF certifications are very expensive to obtain, and the bakery is working toward that as a goal. For now, Chris does his own testing.

“We go down to 5 parts per million for gluten,” Chris Wyatt says. The test they use is one of the more stringent available.

Aimee handles the recipes and baking; Chris, who has a finance background, runs the business and does the marketing. You’ll also find their kids helping out from time to time.

“My 7-year-old can decorate a cupcake like nobody’s business,” Aimee says.

They are preparing to take their products to the Gluten Free Expo in Salt Lake City this October.

You can special order cakes and pastries by calling 991-2253 (CAKE) and at AmaruConfections.com. You can also find Amaru gluten-free and gluten-full muffins and more at Dawson Taylor Coffee, Goldy’s Corner, Java Hyde Park and Downtown, Whole Foods and Cafe d’Arte.

RUTH REICHL

Food writer, restaurant critic and Top Chef Masters judge Ruth Reichl will lead off The Cabin’s Readings & Conversations series on Oct. 16 at the Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. And of course, there will be a dinner.

You can dine with Reichl, one of the most influential food writers in the country, on stage at the Morrison Center prior to her talk “Eating Our Words.”

Tickets for her talk are $20 and $25 and go on sale Aug. 30 at Boise State Tickets. Dinner is $100 and does not include the talk. Get those tickets by calling The Cabin at 331-8000.

The talk is at 7:30 p.m.; dinner is 5:15 p.m.

TWIN PEAKS SET TO OPEN THIS FALL

Hang on, fellas. The mountain-lodge-themed “breast-a-raunt” Twin Peaks should be open by late September/early October, says Katie Allen, part of the Twin Peaks corporate marketing team.

Remodeling is continuing on the former Timeout Sports Pub location at 7751 W. Spectrum St., near the Boise Spectrum.

The restaurant features scantily clad waitresses with what must be steel-lined push-up bras. Because the theme requires a specific look, personality and the willingness to dress up, they don’t interview prospective waitstaff — they audition for Twin Peaks Girls.

You’ll also find 34 flat-screen TVs and 18 draft beers served at a frosty 29 degrees.

The menu will be a mix of comfort and traditional pub fare, with items such as pulled pork nachos, spicy chipotle chicken, Twin Peaks burger and rib-eye pot roast. Online: TwinPeaks-Restaurant.com and Facebook.com/TwinPeaksBoise.

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