With all of the advances of grocery products available to us today, I have been wondering lately what the “true” difference between brands of the same products are. For instance – Is Hotel Butter the same quality as Land-O-Lakes, are Goya split red lentils the same as Bob’s Red Mill, and how does Bisquik’s pancake mix compare to Stone Wall Kitchen’s? There are hundreds of brands out there for everything that we eat. Frozen vegetables, canned goods, boxed mixes, the list goes on and on. But what really makes them different besides pricing? I wanted to do a little digging and find out for myself.
For my first experiment, I was going to make a big double batch of Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies from a recipe I found at Mommy Mouse Club House’s Blog. The recipe calls for a boxed Red Velvet Cake Mix, and the author made a note about using Betty Crocker when she created the recipe.
While I was at the grocery store picking up ingredients, I stood comparing the boxed red velvet cake mix options. Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker. Both boxes claimed to be “Super Moist” and “The ultimate in richness” One box was .20 cents more expensive than the other. Otherwise, what could possibly be different?
So the recipe is straight forward, and we have posted a link on our [Resources Page Link]. It calls for a box of cake mix, two eggs and softened butter to be mixed together and then white chocolate chips to be folded in and baked. Once cool, put a layer of cream cheese frosting between two cookies and you have a red velvet cookie sandwich. Simple, delicious, and great for sharing. So here is how I went about my experiment:
To keep the best control, I baked the batches entirely separate. I started and completed the first batch and let them cool before starting the next batch with all clean utensils and spaces. As the recipe is so delightfully simple this was not hard. The texture and consistency of both mixes seemed the same. I found that the mix was incredibly sticky so I ended up oiling my hands and grabbing 2 inch(ish) globs of mix and rolling them into balls to put on the cookie sheet. All attempts at using a scoop or spoon was too messy, but at the end I had about 24-26 similarly shaped balls of dough on cookie sheets ready for the oven. 13 minutes later they came out and began to cool, and that is really when the two products began to be noticeably different.
The Betty Crocker cookies did come out extremely moist and soft, which unfortunately made them harder to work with when making sandwich cookies. They didn’t flatten out as much as the other batch, and they didn’t have the same cracking pattern like you would see if you were making a sturdy soft cookie like a snickerdoodle or a crinkle cookie.
The Duncan Hynes cookies were a better consistency of soft cookie. The cracks were evident, and they uniformly spread out to near perfect little circles. I also found that they were stiff enough to withstand the pressure needed to squish together with another cookie, while still being soft enough to be classified as a soft cookie, not a biscuit or crunchy cookie (think chips ahoy packaged cookies).
The box for the Betty Crocker claims there is “Pudding in the mix” which I believe is what lead to the difference in textures. I cannot specifically verify it, but I guess I should do a VS battle by making the cakes as the boxed recipe intended. I will save that for another VS Battle. In essence, the Duncan Hines mix was better suited for this particular recipe, and the experiment was fun (and tasty) for all involved.