*DISCLAIMER: Totally didn’t use any fart sound effects. . . because that would just be crude.
Crumbs Bake Shop boxed mixes caught my eye at Target for one reason: Their price!
Sure, they come in beautiful packaging, but their $7-10 price tags halted me in my tracks. I wondered how it was possible that a boxed cake mix could cost so much. The first time I spotted these mixes, I examined its instructions. For these prices, I would expect the mix to contain everything I would need. Nope. After spending $8-10 dollars, the customer would also need to supply his or her own butter, milk, eggs, oil, and cream cheese.
For example, the sandwich cookie cupcake mix (on the lower end of the Crumbs price spectrum) displayed a photo of cupcakes topped with whole cookies. However, the mix only contained cookie crumbles for decorating, forcing the customer to also buy the whole cookies in addition to the other ingredients mentioned above.
When I saw these boxed mixes on Target’s clearance shelf, I had to bite. I chose the Make Your Own Colossal Cupcake package for $5 and proceeded with the mission of finding out why it could possibly cost $10, full price. The kit also comes with a tiny, green spatula. I can’t lie, I love this spatula.
The Crumbs cupcake chain began as a mom and pop store in New York City. It eventually grew to become the biggest cupcake chain in the U.S. until it filed for bankruptcy in 2014. An investment group now owns Crumbs and is reopening its stores. According to news articles, the grocery store Mariano’s agreed to test a Crumbs cupcake and brownie bar in one of its Illinois locations and partnered with Pelican Bay Ltd. to produce these boxed mixes.
When I saw this photo of a little girl holding a giant cupcake, I assumed it was Photoshopped. Upon closer examination, I realized the kit really does make one giant cupcake.
Here’s what the kit includes:
- Cake mix
- White frosting mix
- Yellow frosting mix
- Rainbow sprinkles
- Plastic piping bag
- Cake liners
- Tiny spatula
The cake batter was simple to prepare. I combined the mix with one cup of almond milk (I’m lactose intolerant), 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, and two large eggs. Then I poured the batter into the cupcake liner and baked at 325℉ for about an hour, or until I could cleanly remove a knife from the center.
Near the end of the cooking time, I covered the top of the cake with foil to prevent spots from burning. I prepared the two frostings while the cake cooled.
The white frosting contains the Crumbs powdered mix, cream cheese, butter and milk. The yellow frosting contains butter and the powdered mix.
I frosted the cake and added sprinkles so that it looked like the package. I varied from the instructions by NOT filing the center with more white frosting. If I had done so, there would have been no chance we’d eat the cake.
See the resemblance?
I especially liked making the yellow rosettes.
I carefully cut one slice for taste testing.
My reaction after taking my first bite was that it tasted “OK.” The cake was extremely moist and kind of dense. It had a hint of play dough flavor that I just didn’t like. Jake liked it. He finished his slice of returned for another one the next day. We discarded the rest of the cake after it remained uneaten for a few days.
Jake enjoyed the cake more than I did, but also didn’t understand why it would cost $10 full price. The frostings tasted much better than tinned versions, but they’re also made with real butter and cream cheese. Often times, organic products cost a lot more than their conventional equivalents, but this mix doesn’t claim to contain organic ingredients and included lots of things we can’t pronounce.
For $5, this could be an OK option for the right individual. For $10, I’m going to encourage you to skip this mix all together unless you are a die-hard Crumbs Bake Shop fan. With the additional cost of supplying your own butter, cream cheese, eggs, milk, and oil, you are better off investing that money into your own cake from a bakery or making your one from scratch. I should also note that we did use almond milk instead of cow’s milk. It’s what we keep on hand due to my lactose intolerance (a little dairy is fine, but drinking glasses of milk make me sick). I am unsure how drastically almond milk affected the flavor.
Maybe one of these days, I’ll discover a celebrity-endorsed dessert mix worth your cash. This brand and Duff Goldman’s make me feel a bit jaded and I hope they’re not taking advantage of their fans by charging premium prices for just OK products. I’m open to having my mind changed, though. Do it:)