Crazy for Crust

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:


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


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.


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?


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.


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


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.


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.


{Me, Toni, Liz, and Becca}


{Ashton, Me, Nikki, Kristy}


The Four Musketeers were together again. 🙂


{Me, Ashton, Aimee, Jocelyn, and Averie – 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

And, by “dined well” I hope you know I mean dessert. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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

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  1. Ohmygosh I love this post and you have so many great shots in here! Wow! I am impressed! Thanks for the shoutout and it was AWESOME to meet you too (finally!). Felt so overdue! It was great to connect with everyone in person! And happy birthday (again) – still wish I could have twisted your arm to celebrate more ๐Ÿ™‚ Fabulous recap, Dorothy!

  2. Awww great post Dorothy! I love getting together with you. Even though you live on the other side of the country, I love that these blogging events bring us together! Texting and email help too ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to see the recipes you come up with, surely something with crust….

  3. This was so much fun to read! I love that you posted this. It’s so fun to see everyone together! Glad you had a great time and happy belated birthday! Can’t wait to see the recipes that come from it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This is so awesome! Looks like you had a great time.

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

  5. I was watching all of the IG photos and was so excited / jealous / happy / envious of everyone in attendance. What an amazing opportunity. I can’t wait to see your baked alaska!

  6. Oh my goodness such a fun looking time! Happy late Birthday, I’m glad it was a wonderful day!

  7. I might just be a deep shade of green after reading this post:) What great fun, especially with so many blogging buddies!

  8. Dorothy — sounds like you had a great time! I look forward to seeing all of your new recipes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I loved following along on IG with you all. How fun!

  10. What a wonderful experience for you! Lucky girl!

  11. What a fun trip! Duncan Hines is my favorite brand too- because my Grandma always baked with it. I’ve never tried their frosting but maybe I will now. Looking forward to your upcoming recipe reveals ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Oh what a fun trip, Dorothy! It’s awesome that you got to meet Averie and the other bloggers! What a great time!

    Heh heh, I am like you. I like stuff from scratch but cake mixes and brownie mixes are so much fun!

  13. What a fun trip!!! Glad you shared it with us.

  14. Awwww!!!! It looks like SUCH an amazing time!! And SO sweet that they celebrated your bday!!!

  15. This looks like the best trip EVER, Dorothy! Perfect that you got to do it over your b-day!

  16. WOW, what a great trip!! And soo sweet that they made sure your birthday was SPECIAL!!
    Thanks sooo much for sharing your wonderful adventure with us!! Look forward to seeing
    some yummy recipes coming up!! : )))

  17. Nice story Dorothy. I bet it was a trip to remember! Love those desserts at the table and happy belated birthday!

  18. What an awesome way to spend your birthday!! You totally deserve it! And I DID know that Wilton only uses Duncan Hines! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Aww Dorothy, it looks like you had such a great time! I’m so happy for you!! And that the entire room would sing for you on your birthday… So sweet! I’m all giddy smiles reading about your experience and I’m so glad you shared it with us!

  20. so glad you had so much fun and you were celebrated on your bday! Thanks for sharing your experience, FUN FUN!

  21. How ridiculously awesome does that look! I loved seeing your pictures on Instagram too.

  22. I am so glad these blog events keep bringing us together! It was such a fun weekend and I’m glad we got a chance to chat more!!!

  23. Dorothy, what an amazing experience! That is so cool of Duncan Hines to put this event together and even cooler that they surprised you for your birthday. So many of my favourite bloggers attended this event! I’d have been fangirling like crazy if I got to meet all of you.

  24. I’m still so behind on reading my blogs from last weekend that I just now got to your post about the trip. Thank you again for giving me such an incredible opportunity. It was lovely to meet you! And thanks for the link! You’re the best!

  25. Looks like an incredible trip Dorothy! I can’t wait to see what recipes come out of this – no pressure!

  26. Hey Dorothy,
    I’m just now reading this post. It looks like y’all had so much fun. I would love to go someday! Where is the test kitchen?
    Wow, I love it!

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