Tessa Huff

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How to Upgrade Boxed Cake Mix

Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting

I don't typically support boxed cake mix, but that doesn't mean that I don't see the appeal.  I get it, really.  The ease and conveinece of pre-measured ingredients and an almost fool-proof recipe.  And I would be lying if I told you that I never use boxed mixes...

Usually I am here sharing my tips and tricks for baking from scratch, encouraging you all to try new and challenging things in the kitchen, and being your biggest cheerleader for getting your hands dirty and creating something truly homemade.  But like I said, I totally understand getting a little help when you need it.  Instead of hating so much on boxed mixes, I am sharing some of my favorite ways to upgrade boxed cake mix!  Cuz hey, in the end, baking a cake from a box is still baking and doesn't require a trip to the grocery bakery counter.  

Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting
Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting

If you are reading this on Friday - two days before Valentine's Day - and are totally overwhelmed with what you are going to make or buy your sweetheart and can't image taking on a giant from-scratch baking project, then at least try out some (if not all) of these boxed cake mix upgrades:

1. Swap the oil for butter: Instead of using vegetable or canola oil that a boxed cake mix typically calls for, try substituting it with melted, unsalted butter. In cakes made from scratch, the butter is creamed with the sugar. You can skip this step and still have that rich, flavorful, homemade taste.

2. Use pure vanilla extract: Add in a teaspoon or two of good vanilla (not the imitation kind) to enhance the flavors. Even with a chocolate cake, a touch of vanilla can go a long way. You may even want to try a dash of almond extract, too!

3. Add coffee: In many chocolate baked goods, adding in some instant espresso or coffee gives depth to the chocolatey flavor. In this case, substitute some of the water for strong coffee.

4. Add dairy: For extra richness, substitute the remaining amounts of water with milk, buttermilk or even sour cream. Sour cream is a great option when working with chocolate cake because not only does it add a bit of fat (think rich and tender!), but the acidity pairs well with chocolate.

5. Add a yolk: While most boxed cake mixes will call for about three eggs, adding an extra egg yolk adds flavor and richness. If you prefer your chocolate cake to be on the fudgey, decadent side, add an extra yolk.

6. Instant pudding for instant moisture: While you’re browsing the baking aisle for your fave mix, grab a box of instant pudding too. Adding this to the mix makes the cake extra moist.

7. Toss in some chips: More chocolate is never a bad idea. Mini chocolate chips are better than regular chips since they don’t sink in the batter as easily.

8. Pair a boxed cake with homemade frosting: Want a real upgrade? Ice your boxed mix cake with from-scratch fudge frosting.

For a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the dessert "hacks," head on over to Brit + Co.

1. Swap the oil for butter: Instead of using vegetable or canola oil that a boxed cake mix typically calls for, try substituting it with melted, unsalted butter. In cakes made from scratch, the butter is creamed with the sugar. You can skip this step and still have that rich, flavorful, homemade taste.  2. Use pure vanilla extract: Add in a teaspoon or two of good vanilla (not the imitation kind) to enhance the flavors. Even with a chocolate cake, a touch of vanilla can go a long way. You may even want to try a dash of almond extract, too!  3. Add coffee: In many chocolate baked goods, adding in some instant espresso or coffee gives depth to the chocolatey flavor. In this case, substitute some of the water for strong coffee.  4. Add dairy: For extra richness, substitute the remaining amounts of water with milk, buttermilk or even sour cream. Sour cream is a great option when working with chocolate cake because not only does it add a bit of fat (think rich and tender!), but the acidity pairs well with chocolate.  5. Add a yolk: While most boxed cake mixes will call for about three eggs, adding an extra egg yolk adds flavor and richness. If you prefer your chocolate cake to be on the fudgey, decadent side, add an extra yolk.  6. Instant pudding for instant moisture: While you’re browsing the baking aisle for your fave mix, grab a box of instant pudding too. Adding this to the mix makes the cake extra moist.  7. Toss in some chips: More chocolate is never a bad idea. Mini chocolate chips are better than regular chips since they don’t sink in the batter as easily.  8. Pair a boxed cake with homemade frosting: Want a real upgrade? Ice your boxed mix cake with from-scratch fudge frosting.
1. Swap the oil for butter: Instead of using vegetable or canola oil that a boxed cake mix typically calls for, try substituting it with melted, unsalted butter. In cakes made from scratch, the butter is creamed with the sugar. You can skip this step and still have that rich, flavorful, homemade taste.  2. Use pure vanilla extract: Add in a teaspoon or two of good vanilla (not the imitation kind) to enhance the flavors. Even with a chocolate cake, a touch of vanilla can go a long way. You may even want to try a dash of almond extract, too!  3. Add coffee: In many chocolate baked goods, adding in some instant espresso or coffee gives depth to the chocolatey flavor. In this case, substitute some of the water for strong coffee.  4. Add dairy: For extra richness, substitute the remaining amounts of water with milk, buttermilk or even sour cream. Sour cream is a great option when working with chocolate cake because not only does it add a bit of fat (think rich and tender!), but the acidity pairs well with chocolate.  5. Add a yolk: While most boxed cake mixes will call for about three eggs, adding an extra egg yolk adds flavor and richness. If you prefer your chocolate cake to be on the fudgey, decadent side, add an extra yolk.  6. Instant pudding for instant moisture: While you’re browsing the baking aisle for your fave mix, grab a box of instant pudding too. Adding this to the mix makes the cake extra moist.  7. Toss in some chips: More chocolate is never a bad idea. Mini chocolate chips are better than regular chips since they don’t sink in the batter as easily.  8. Pair a boxed cake with homemade frosting: Want a real upgrade? Ice your boxed mix cake with from-scratch fudge frosting.

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