Review: Duff Goldman’s Boxed Purple Rain Cake Mix & Cream Cheese Frosting

I enjoy reviewing weird stuff.

One of my goals this year is to incorporate video reviews of food products and kitchen tools into my blog posts. Thanks for bearing with me as I bumble through this video and spill things. I have a voice for blogging, if you know what I mean. Plus, I just ordered a phone tripod which should prevent so many drops and spills in my next videos.

New challenges are fun and keep me on my toes, so I’ll continue to produce simple video reviews on my iPhone. My written review is located below for those who prefer blog posts over video. Check out my first video, a review of the Chef’n Vibe Onion Peeler.

If you’ve wandered the baking aisles in any major supermarket, you may have noticed Duff Goldman’s fantastical line of baking mixes. They’re impossible to miss because they come in bright color and patterns like pink zebra stripes and camouflage. Duff’s mixes are less expensive than the ridiculously priced Crumbs Bake Shoppe Line at Target ($7.99-$9.99!!!) and a couple bucks more than Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines.

With these products’ Food Network celebrity chef endorsement and claims to be “Bakery Quality” and “Premium,” I had to investigate. Do these cake mixes taste “Bakery Quality” and how difficult is it to replicate the patterns? I asked my readers if they preferred I reviewed the camouflage or Purple Rain pattern and they chose Purple Rain.

Purple Rain Cake

Cost: Depending on the store, mixes in Mason City ranged from $2.98-$3.50. I found tins of frosting at Walmart for $2.48 each.

This Purple Rain mix requires water, oil and three egg whites.

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The box contained white cake mix and a tiny packet of purple dye.

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To begin, the box instructed me to mix the cake mix, water, egg whites and oil together for two-minutes in a mixer or stir by hand for approximately 240 strokes. I divided the batter into two equal portions and added the purple dye to one half.

To get this striped pattern, I dropped 1/3 cups of the batter onto each cake pan, starting with the white batter and alternated between the two colors. I gently swirled and tilted the pan to encourage each scoop of batter to spread towards the edges of the pan.

Cake batter swirl

I baked the cakes for about 30-minutes at 350℉ and cooled them on a rack. Overall, I found it very easy to produce this pattern. You could make zebra stripes with any white cake mix and your choice of food coloring.

Baked cake in pan

While the cakes baked, I tasted Goldman’s Not Your Bagel Cream Cheese Frosting.

I chose the cream cheese flavor because it’s one of the only types of frosting I actually like. My first reaction to the frosting’s name was “Well, duh.” Obviously, I would hope this wouldn’t taste like my bagel’s cream cheese frosting because I don’t want to eat cream cheese frosting on my bagel. Gross!

The second ingredient behind sugar is partially-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Those who know me know I eat everything from organic potatoes to Chicken Crispitos from Fareway, but the thought of eating something akin to sweet Crisco made me shudder.

I hated it. It tasted like any other cheap, tinned vanilla frosting I’ve encountered, and I couldn’t detect a hint of cream cheese flavor.

I also tried a piece of the unfrosted cake. The texture was light and fluffy and the cake was moist. However, it struck me as overly sweet. Much sweeter than what I remember other boxed cakes tasting like. Even without the frosting, I had difficult time eating a piece.

For photography purposes, I frosted a quarter of a cake. Even if I wouldn’t eat this piece, I knew Jake would be happy to taste test it in all it’s glory. I made a piping bag out of a resealable bag and mixed some extra purple food coloring into the frosting.

Cake Slice

Jake was overjoyed when presented him with a frosted piece of cake just for him. He dug in and gave it a thumb’s up.

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“Don’t you think the frosting is icky?” I asked?

“Nope, taste fine to me,” he said. For a boxed mix anad tinned frosting, he thought it produced decent results. However, he did not touch this piece of cake after this initial tasting. It died in our fridge. Before you purchase one of Goldman’s Purple Rain cake mix and cream cheese frosting, consider these pros and cons:

Pros: 

  • The cake mix is moderately priced.
  • The box provides clear instructions and this pattern was simple to prepare.
  • The kit includes the food coloring.

Cons:
The price of this cake mix isn’t horribly expensive like the Crumbs line, but it’s still more expensive than Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker Mixes and doesn’t taste any better. In my humble opinion, the cake itself was terribly sweet and nothing about the cake’s flavor or texture made it stand out above the other boxed mixes as “premium.” The Bakery Quality claim is ludicrous. Or maybe not so much, depending on how terrible the bakery is.

I thought the frosting tasted horrendous, but, on the flip side, Jake did not find it offensive. It didn’t strike me as any better than the other shelf-stable frostings I’ve tasted, whether from a small tin or commercial pails. However, if you are in the “No frosting is bad frosting” camp, you might like this one.

My bottom line is that this particular cake mix is OK. You could reproduce the same results with a better flavor by using a cheaper boxed cake mix and your choice of food coloring. The Willy Wonka purple color freaked me out even though it tasted like vanilla and created cognitive dissonance between my eyes and taste buds. However, I’ve had friends report this mix was a fun option for children or loved ones fond of the color purple.

Celebrity-endorsed food products make me go hmmm. . . I’ve seen Rachel Ray broths & stocks, Giada pasta sauce at Target and remember trying the Tyler Florence menu at Applebee’s during the 00’s. How involved is the celebrity in quality control or the claims made about the product? Are these products actually worth the extra dollars because they carry a celebrity chef’s name? I’m curious about your thoughts on any celebrity food products you’ve tried.

What would you like me to review next? 

10 Comments

  1. Your music selections are PERFECT! I love your video reviews and you are rocking it–I would miss the “oops” portions so keep those even when you get the phone tripod!!! Great and fun review! Thanks!

  2. LOVE THIS! My girls would love to make cake that was purple! 🙂

  3. Love this! I don’t care what you think…you have a knack for videos and do it with your own style & flair! I think it’s great!

  4. I love love love this video review! It’s so natural and totally shows your personality. I really like the oopsies too 🙂 I can’t wait for the next one. I need to start some videos too now 🙂

  5. Truly awesome video and product review. I loved the music also.

  6. Great review. Your face definitely does say it all with the frosting!

  7. If you seal a mix up completely in zip gallon bag it will hatch little worms. Happen 6 mixes. Never again.

  8. Just so you know, I’ve made this exact cake but with an 8 inch round and a smaller one to go on top, and when putting the batter into the pans, there is no need to swirl or tilt the batter. If you do it just like the instructions and just keep putting alternating colors right in the middle, the circle patterns end up basically perfectly symmetrical and even instead of a little bit wonky like your picture. It just settles that way. It looks so cool!

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