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Sep 28

The Duncan Hines Test Kitchen

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Okay it’s time for me to share all the secrets behind the Duncan Hines Test Kitchen!

This trip was really the trip of a lifetime. I feel so lucky to have been able to go. In case you didn’t know, I’ve been a Duncan Hines Passionate Blogger since last Spring. Over the past few months I’ve had so much fun making recipes using the Frosting Creations. The spring flavors were some of my favorites, and spawned this pink lemonade swirl cake:

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And well, you know Jordan can’t get enough Mint Chocolate!

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As you probably know from reading this blog, I am a huge cake mix fan. As much as I like scratch baking, cake and brownie mix are some of my go-to pantry items. I love using the mixes for creating non-traditional desserts, because I know how the mix will perform. Plus, I love the taste of mixes. I grew up on them! Duncan Hines is an industry standard – and my favorite brand.

Remember that giveaway I did, for a trip to the test kitchens with me? Renee, from Awesome on 20 was my winner. It was so great to meet her!

The trip was for the passionate bloggers, their winners, last years’ baking contest winners, and the winners of the 2013 Frosting Creations contest.

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We got to sample all of the winning recipes! I ate SO MUCH FOOD that night. (And I must say, my BFF Jocelyn from Inside BruCrew Life – third from the right – made the best fudge ever. I hope she shares in with all of you!)

The big test kitchen day was Saturday. We all got on a huge bus and drove to the Pinnacle building, where the test kitchen is (not just for Duncan Hines, but for all the Pinnacle brands, like Vlasic and Mrs. Butterworth’s.) This is the view that greeted us:

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I even had my own star!

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And yes, I took it home, and I’m hanging it in my office!

It was so cool to go behind the scenes at Duncan Hines. We got to see where they come up with new flavors and do all their testing on products. We saw their Ideation Room, which is room where the walls are all whiteboards. How cool is that?

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Wilton put on a cake decorating demo that showed us how to work with fondant. Did you know that Duncan Hines is the preferred brand for Wilton? All of their recipes are made using a Duncan Hines cake mix.

Then Chef Joe took the floor. Chef Joe DiPaulo is the head chef at the Duncan Hines test kitchen. He did a four hour demo for us on everything from mousse, to molded chocolate, to pie crust, to meringue. Watching him was fantastic – it was like being in the audience on a Food Network show!

He even showed us how to make spun sugar…and some sugar bubbles.

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Then he sat around while 40 of us wanted a photo with him.

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I would love to spend a day in his kitchen. I’d learn so much!

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And I’d get fat. This was what we had for dessert on Saturday night…3 cakes for each table of 10. That baked alaska? SO happening at home.

The entire weekend was incredible, but a few things made it even more so. You may remember that my birthday was during the trip. In fact, it was on Saturday, while we were at the test kitchen. Some of the other bloggers knew about it, but I didn’t expect anyone to do anything. Well, the PR team took it upon themselves to check for birthdays and then they let Duncan Hines in on the secret.

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During one of our tastings, they brought out a cupcake with a candle and the entire room sang to me. I almost cried, seriously. It was one of the best ways I could have spent my birthday!

And then well, did you know that some of my most bestest blog friends went on this trip? I have no idea how it happened, but a bunch of us all ended up as Passionate Bloggers or winners and got to all be together on the trip.

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{Me,ย Toni, Liz, and Becca}

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{Ashton, Me, Nikki, Kristy}

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The Four Musketeers were together again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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{Me, Ashton, Aimee, Jocelyn, and Averieย – the first time I met her in person, it was so awesome!}

I learned so much on this trip. I was writing like a madwoman during Chef Joe’s presentation. I’m hoping to bring some of those recipes to you in the coming weeks. You’re going to love them!

One of the rooms at the test kitchen had this quote on it, and it’s so true I had to make a printable out of it.

One Cannot Think Well...quote from crazyforcrust.com

And, by “dined well” I hope you know I mean dessert. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for reading!

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{Duncan Hines sent me on the trip, and this post was part of the deal…but I would have posted about it anyway!}