Happy Valentine's Day! With the prevalence of red and pink-hued treats out there at the moment, I thought it would be fitting to share a relatively new product on the "baking mix" market - Duff™ Red Velvet Cake Mix.
Yes, that Duff. The Ace of Cakes has finally brought out a line of cake baking and decorating products "designed to let everyday bakers unleash their inner artist”, including cake mixes, frostings, fillings, pans, fondant, "cake tattoos" and sprinkles! According to the product website, "Duff’s premium cake mixes are just like the ones used in professional bakeries", which holds it to a pretty high standard given that the man behind the mix made his fame and fortune on cake! Home cooks are spoiled for choice when it comes to the varieties to - not content with chocolate and vanilla, the brand also features recipes like "Blue Suede", Camouflage (both "regular" and "pink"), Zebra, Tie-Dye, Confetti, Peanut Butter+Chocolate, White Mocha, Minty-Chip Chocolate and Red Velvet.
I've been a fan of Ace of Cakes for a while now, and so while I don't usually rely on cake mixes at home, I had to see if they were really worth the hype (and the slightly larger price tag than your run-of-the-mill boxes at the grocery store). The wonderful people at Gartner Studios (who manufacture the mixes) sent me boxes of Red Velvet and Zebra cake mix and tubs of Chocolate and the amusingly named "Not Your Bagel's Cream Cheese" frosting. Around here, the mixes are available at Michael's stores, but in the USA you can find them at Walmart, Safeway and Target as well as Amazon and duff.com (FYI, if you purchase through the official website make sure to enter the promo code NUMMYCAKE20 for a 20% discount on all products!).
I did have to bide my time before getting a chance to try the mix though, since cake isn't usually a staple in our household except for birthdays. Finally, my grandma's birthday rolled around last week, and we decided that the Red Velvet would be a perfect celebratory finale to the dinner. Making the mix is pretty standard, adding oil, water and eggs to the dry mixture. The tint of the batter was quite shockingly red, more than our homemade red velvet recipe, but the amount of dye thankfully didn't seem to translate into any off flavours.
The resulting cake was definitely still vibrant scarlet, and sadly for the chocoholics in the household didn't have much of a cocoa flavour to it (I was unable to find a list of their ingredients online to see if cocoa was an ingredient like in our homemade version). It was, however, incredibly moist and tender (without falling apart), probably because of the low protein, low gluten flour they use (cake flour will create a light and fluffy texture), and it didn't dry out or taste stale even after we forgot it on the counter with just a layer of clingwrap across the cut side overnight. I was worried that the cake would be too sweet (as is the cake with most mixes), but the party guests all reported that wasn't the case - it was still clearly dessert but not cloyingly saccharine. The cream cheese frosting is dangerous to keep in the house if you (like me) are a fan of that flavour, since it tastes almost like a homemade recipe with just a touch more vanilla and sugar. I actually would suggest that true cream cheese fans beat in two tablespoons or so of plain cream cheese for a tangier flavour, especially if you're going to use it on something like carrot cake. It spreads well on the cake too, not tearing up the crumb (which can happen with overly stiff versions).
In fact, the cake was crave-worthy enough that my mom (who as a rule is not a "cake" person, and loves chocolate above almost everything else) had a big piece before telling me to "get it out of the house before she gained 20 pounds"! I took it to work, where my coworkers made quick work of reducing it to crumbs while asking if it was homemade. Given that I'm known for bringing in goodies fairly regularly, I'd say that was a ringing endorsement!
If you use cake mixes on occasion, but are disappointed with the often dry, super-sweet results and standard flavours, I definitely suggest raising the bar with Duff's products. Even if you don't usually use a cake mix for your baking needs, the quality and ease of these makes them a perfect "in a pinch" option - after all, who doesn't need cake once in a while?
See all the products on Duff.com, and don't forget to use the promo code NUMMYCAKE20 for a 20% discount on all products!
*Disclaimer: I received the cake mixes and frostings free of charge from Gartner Studios, but was not compensated for any review whatsoever. All opinions and photos are my own.