Monday, March 14, 2011

The $14 Cake Mix Experiment

My last few posts have been on the serious side, so it's time for one of a lighter fare.  I had hoped to post this on Fat Tuesday, but time got away from me.  And it just seemed wrong and hurtful to write about cupcakes on Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting.  Warning to all of you who gave up sweets for Lent: this post involves tasty cupcakes.

So, I have a love-hate relationship with Willi.am-Sonom.a.  I love browsing the various kitchen gadgets, indulging in the samples, and occasionally taking a cooking class.  I loathe the insanely high prices.  One item that has always perplexed me is the Spri.nkles cupcake mix, costing $14 a can.  Seriously, $14?  I could make 13 boxes worth of cupcakes for that price.  Behold, the famous can:


Well, this past January W-S put a can of Spri.nkles mix on clearance.  Finally, I had a chance to give into my curiosity of why a small can costs so much.  A girlfriend from a Catholi.c prayer group offered to make a dozen cupcakes from store-bought mix so we could compare the two at the next gathering.  The showdown was set!!

To start off, I was rather dismayed to discover that the can only makes 12 cupcakes. Most box mixes make 24.  In addition, the can only contains the mix and the iconic Sprin.kles logo sprinkles.  Oh, and a recipe card.  Yea.  The mix required the addition of 1 stick of butter, milk, eggs, and oil (?).  In my haste to keep KB fed and happy, I accidentally added 2 sticks of butter ("Just call me Pau.la Dean," I told my husband).  Then came making the delicious butter cream frosting, which called for 2 sticks of butter.  That's right, those 12 cupcakes upon completion contained FOUR STICKS OF BUTTER.  I can visualize the painful winces of my general physician.

I brought the butter-laden cupcakes (sans the Spr.inkles decoration) to the prayer group meeting.  My friend brought her cupcakes for the all-important taste test (my cupcake is on the right).


After our in-depth analysis of the delicious cupcakes, we determined that both taste great.  The W-S cupcake had the consistency of a from-scratch cupcake.  But then again, perhaps the butter caused that texture.  Perhaps I will add a stick of butter to my next boxed cake mix.  Anyway, the boxed mix cupcake had a more moist consistency.  We agreed that the homemade butter cream frosting would work well on any cupcake.

The findings of this tasty experiment?  The $14 cupcake mix is SO not worth the price.  Better to make your own from a box or indulge in one of the many cupcake bakeries around town.  :)  Perhaps when Lent is over I will come up with another food experiment.  Feel free to submit any ideas in the comment box!

5 comments:

Kasclar said...

My husband says to just make them from scratch. :) Cheaper than the Sprinkles mix and better tasting than any box mix.

Ann - Building a Nest said...

You had me at "cake."

I do love a good comparison. Buy (or checkout) the "Cakemix Doctor" where she doctors up cake mixes. Seriously so good!

aka the Mom said...

This is so good to know. I've looked at those Sprinkles mixes a dozen times and wondered if they were worth it. I'll just add a stick of butter to the boxed stuff and call myself Paula Deen!

Percolating Petals said...

Yeah, Keri, my problem is that I can't make very many things from scratch!! ooo, thanks for the tip, Ann! I've heard of the cake doctor. And theMom, I'm glad to have saved you some pain in the wallet. I should have known that anything coming from Beverly Hills would be overpriced...

Little JoAnn said...

Thank you for doing this for us! You are a hoot. Love this kind of research. Can you try out more things and tell us your findings?