February 12, 2013

How to Rock Your Valentine's World With a Cake Mix...and Some Kitchen Magic

Cake mixes are easy.  I love them.  Sometimes you want something just a bit fancier than a plain old cake mix, but you don't have time to make something amazing from scratch--because you're spending all day making an awesome lasagna for your Valentine's Day dinner...or because your child is sick and wants you to read Little Blue Truck to him all day long.  In any case, there are a couple of ways you can spice up a cake mix to make it taste divine without putting in hardly any extra time or effort.

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  • Use applesauce instead of oil to make the cake more moist.  Make sure your applesauce isn't chunky though.  In some cake flavors, there might be a slight apple taste, but for the most part it works great.
  • Add a bit of extract to the cake batter--vanilla, almond, mint, etc.  Just a touch should do it.
  • Give it some texture by mixing in nuts, marshmallows, chocolate chips, dried fruit, or fresh fruit pieces.  Just keep in mind that if you're using fresh fruit, the moisture content can affect the cake batter.  If it seems too runny, just add a bit of flour to even things out.
  • Do something cool for icing, rather than just plain icing.  Press nuts into the frosting along the sides of the cake.  Use stabilized whipped cream or cream cheese icing.  Lay down a layer or lace or a paper doily and shake powdered sugar over it, then remove the doily and admire powdered sugar "lace."  You can also do the same thing with a paper stencil and icing to make words, as shown here.  Or top it with chocolate or white chocolate shavings.  Who can resist that?
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Or you can do my personal favorite.  Throw out the directions on the cake mix box entirely and add:
    • 4 eggs
    • 2/3 cup oil
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 large (5 oz) box instant pudding mix.  
    • 2/3 cup sugar (definitely optional, but if you're going all out, why not?)
Bake the cake in a bundt or tube pan for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  This one is particularly fun because you can change up the flavors of pudding, depending on what cake flavor you have.  Some tasty combos are:
    • Chocolate pudding with yellow or red velvet cake
    • Butterscotch pudding with Devil's Food cake
    • Vanilla pudding with carrot cake
I'm making a red velvet cake with chocolate pudding and cream cheese icing for Valentine's Day.  That's two whole days away.  I don't know if I can make it...

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1 comment:

  1. Oh man! I saw this post just too late. I'll try this next valentine's. Love you!


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