Taste Test: How does Chef Duff’s Cake Mix Compare?

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I did it again… While walking down the grocery aisle I was totally sucked in by colorful packaging, sale prices, and big names:

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We haven’t reviewed Baltimore local, Chef Duff of Charm City Cake’s, line of cake mixes and frosting yet because, to be honest, they are a bit pricey compared to the competition. The retail price for the above is $5.69 for a box of cake mix and $3.29 for a tub of frosting (I’m sure prices vary by location). On sale, I picked these up for $3.49 and $2.99, so still not super cheap. The box of mix did come with a large packet of pre-made peanut butter ganache though, so I was glad to see they hadn’t skimped on that.

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Even though we’ve heard that Chef Duff is not a fan of the cupcake frenzy (crazy, I know!), I decided to use this mix to make cupcakes instead of a layered cake. Take that Chef Duff! (Kidding! We actually really love him, his show, and that he calls Baltimore home).

In order to provide you all with an accurate review of the product line, we didn’t modify this mix or frosting like we normally like to do and the only “extra” thing I decided to purchase was Peanut Butter Oreos to add on top (if you haven’t had these, what are you waiting for? Seriously, run to your nearest grocer).

When I mixed the batter according to the directions it appeared very runny and the dry ingredients didn’t seem to mix easily in with the wet, causing little chunks throughout. Shrugging this off, I filled the baking cupcakes and set the timer on the oven. The instructions called for 20 to 25 mins, but that seemed really high to me, so I decided to bake for 16 minutes (my normal cupcake baking time) and add more time if necessary. I’m glad I did that because they were completely finished baking when I checked them.

Once they cooled, I cored the center and added the peanut butter ganache. The texture of it was perfect for the filling, and the bag it came in made filling the cupcakes easy and mess free. Since I was filling the cupcakes, I didn’t chill the ganache as the box suggests, but if you are going to spread it on a layer cake, I definitely think you should. It might be too runny otherwise.

Before I frosted the cupcakes, I did a little taste test of Duff’s Chocolate Fudge Frosting, and was glad I did. It was really rich and overly sweet, like typical pre-made store bought frosting. I decided a thin layer with a dollop on top would be the perfect amount.

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Overall these cupcakes were good. Not great. Not Special. Just good. Although, I was able to get 25 cupcakes from the mix, while with other brands I’m lucky to get 22. Also, it was nice to have something included in the box to use as a filling, but in my opinion the cake and frosting were just as good as any of the competitors’.

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I’m not sure if I would seek out Chef Duff’s mixes in the future. I may pick up a box from time to time, if they are on sale and I fall into the gimmick trap again, but otherwise I think I’ll stick with my old friends, Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, and Pillsbury.

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

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5 thoughts on “Taste Test: How does Chef Duff’s Cake Mix Compare?

  1. So glad I read this. I have been super tempted to buy Duff cake mix and try it out but like you the price prevented me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend that much on a boxed cake mix. Perhaps I’ll try it if it’s on sale or I have a coupon. But I think I’ll skip the full price.

  2. I made this cake the other day. The layers were huge, much larger than I get with the other brands. I really think it was better than average. The panache was too thick after refrigeration it, so I had to let it warm up a little, on the counter. All in all, I would buy this again.

    • Hi Cookie Gal! That’s great feedback! Since we made cupcakes, it was hard to guess how much more cake it would make in layer form. Do you think it’s worth the higher cost, or would you prefer to purchase it on sale? I think for us (at our grocer) the price is just too high to buy on a regular basis. Thank you so much for reading our blog and commenting!

  3. I agree Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, and Betty C are the way to go. I bought the Duff’s Camouflage cake mix and although the colors did come out nice when the directions were followed exact, the cake itself came out really thin. You really needed 2 boxes of this mix to make a cake with good thick layers. The cake was dry and not very flavorful. I would not buy this again. To tie-dye next time I’ll just buy a box of one of the other brands and use food coloring to dye the mix myself. I gave it a try once but won’t buy Duff’s again.

  4. I just bought a tub of Duff’s fudge frosting to satisfy some serious pms chocolate cravings. My plan was frosting, a spoon, glass of water and a good TV show. My opinion of the frosting was so so..nothing I’d buy again. Duncan Hines is better.

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