Ree Drummond’s Trick For Making The Best Chocolate Cake Is Boxed Mix

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Achieve "made-from-scratch" taste with much less effort.



No matter if you fancy yourself a baker or nothing further away from the sort, there are instances that arise when turning to a boxed cake mix is the best option, whether you’re short on time, ingredients, or the skills to get the job done. Luckily, boxed cake mixes have come a long way, though they won’t ever necessarily taste homemade—unless you make a few adjustments, that is.

That's exactly what Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman mastered with her viral “Top Secret Chocolate Cake,” which is essentially a shortcut chocolate cake that uses boxed mix. While most boxed cake mixes call for a basic ingredient list of eggs, oil, and water, Drummond puts her own spin on the sometimes-ho-hum requirements for a much tastier result that could fool anyone into thinking you made it from scratch. Here's what makes her recipe special enough to try tonight.

Related: 35 Box Cake Mix Recipes That Taste Homemade

Drummond’s Upgrades For Boxed Cake Mix

Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck; Food Styling: Erin Merhar
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck; Food Styling: Erin Merhar

Opt for a Bundt Pan

Despise frosting a layer cake? Both for the effort and time it requires? Drummond agrees, making the “shortcut chocolate cake” truly reflective of the name by using a Bundt pan instead. You can even opt for a baking dish if desired.

Swapping Oil for Butter

While most boxed cake mixes call for oil—often vegetable oil—many homemade cakes are typically made with butter. Drummond’s shortcut chocolate cake recipe requests swapping out the oil for melted butter—specifically salted butter—to provide a more moist, tender crumb, as well as to enhance the flavor, since salt subtly balances out the sweetness.

Using Milk Instead of Water

You’ll find that most boxed cake mixes suggest using water, but Drummond recommends using whole milk instead. The higher fat content helps add richness and flavor to your batter, making it taste more made-from-scratch. Use the same amount of milk in place for water, or you can even use buttermilk to add a touch of tang.

Add in an Extract

It might sound self-explanatory, but practically any baking mix for any dessert or pastry can be easily enhanced using extracts. Drummond calls for an addition of a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the boxed cake mix to complement the chocolate flavor and add further dimension to the batter.

Throw in Extra Texture

Though you wouldn’t expect a chocolate cake mix to have chocolate chips already added, Drummond finds that the addition of chocolate chips adds much-needed texture and delicious pockets of melted chocolate to a fluffy cake base. She recommends using a whole cup, but you can tweak to your liking.

Make a Quick Frosting

Drummond prefers using an easy two-ingredient ganache for her shortcut chocolate cake, consisting of just heavy cream and semisweet chocolate chips on the stovetop. Poured over the top of the cake while still warm, you get a pleasing drizzle effect and frosting taste without having to painstakingly frost each and every nook.

Related: See Ree Drummond's Top Secret Chocolate Cake Recipe

Why It Works

While cake mixes have certainly come a long way, the ingredient lists are always kept short and simple, perhaps to a fault, in order to make it as easy as possible on those who are using it. Now, when you’re truly in a pinch, that is a blessing. However, you won’t ever quite achieve the same richness of flavor and crumby, fluffy texture as with a homemade batter. Simple switches, such as Drummond’s, to add extra fat and flavor work wonders on the otherwise-baseline recipe. Therefore, you’ve achieved a much more delicious and impressive cake without all the fuss.

Related: 8 Ways To Make Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade

More Boxed Cake Mix Recipes To Try

<p>Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Rishon Hanners; Prop Stylist: Heather Chadduck</p>

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Rishon Hanners; Prop Stylist: Heather Chadduck

Who can resist ways to upgrade a boxed cake mix? Here are some of our other favorite recipes that start with a box of cake mix to try at home.

You’ll hardly be left unprepared for any last-minute baking or dessert cravings, as long as you stock up on a few boxed cake mixes.

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Read the original article on Southern Living.