Ninety-eight percent of the time I am a scratch baker when it comes to cakes. Hummingbird cake, Texas sheet cake, red velvet cake, carrot cake and others I make from scratch. The other two percent of the time I am quite happy to break out a boxed cake mix and use it as a base for a delicious cake or dessert.
I never pay more than $1 for a box cake mix either, so my doctored cake mixes stay frugal. Some store or another around town always has mixes on sale; just last week I found Pillsbury mixes for 89 cents at Grocery Outlet. I typically always keep a box of yellow cake mix and either devil’s food or chocolate fudge mix on hand, but will pick up other flavors if they are also on sale. Occasionally I use a coupon that’s good for both a cake mix and a tub of frosting. I don’t care for store-bought frosting and prefer to make my own, but I’ve recently discovered a delicious use for it: cake balls!
My family’s favorite chocolate cake these days, bar none, is the Triple Chocolate Cake from Alea at Premeditated Leftovers. This cake has become our favorite celebration cake, but we don’t need an occasion to enjoy it! I made a happy discovery one time when I didn’t have the German chocolate mix called for in the recipe and substituted devil’s food. The result: unbelievably rich, chocolate-y deliciousness! (Update: Alea posted about this recipe today as well! Her cake had an accident and she came up with a delicious chocolate glaze to hide the imperfections. Voila! Quadruple Chocolate Cake!)
The recipes for Fresh Orange Cake and Bacardi Rum Cake both come from Ann Byrn, The Cake Mix Doctor. The orange cake is great when I need a cake in a hurry because I typically have all the ingredients on hand (and lemon juice can be substituted for the orange for a lemon variation). I was thrilled to find the Bacardi rum cake recipe again. I first made the cake years ago when Bacardi published the recipe in an ad, but lost it (along with all my other cookbooks) when we moved back to the States from Japan. I don’t like rum, but I love rum cake! It is definitely a very special occasion cake!
A family member first told me about cake balls, but they sounded too complicated and “junky” for the way we eat. When I looked up the recipe however, I couldn’t believe how simple they were, and how tasty they turned out to be, almost like truffles. The girls and I have made them together a few times and they’ve been a hit when we’ve taken them to a potluck. The fun thing about cake balls is that you can make up any combination of flavors that you like – they’re all good. And yes, they’re kind of junky, but fun for a once-in-a while treat.
- 1 package German chocolate (or devil’s food) cake mix
- 1 3.8 oz. package of instant chocolate pudding
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 12 ounce package of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips. Beat for 5 minutes on medium speed, then fold in chips by hand. Pour batter into a well-greased bundt pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in bundt pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
- 1 yellow cake mix with pudding
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 eggs
Preheat oven to 350°. Blend together the ingredients for 1 minute on low speed, scrape down the bowl and mix for an additional 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into well-greased bundt pan, and bake for 45 – 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto cake plate. Cake glaze can be made from 1 cup sifted powdered sugar blended with 3 TBSP orange juice and 1 tsp fresh grated orange peel. Pour glaze over cooled cake and let set a few minutes before slicing.
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 package plain yellow cake mix
- 1 3.8 oz package instant vanilla pudding
- 1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 eggs
- 4 TBSP butter
- 2 TBSP water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup Bacardi dark rum
Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a bundt pan and sprinkle chopped nuts in the bottom of the pan. Blend the remaining cake ingredients on low for 1 minutes; scrape the bowl and mix another 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto cake plate or platter.
To make glaze, melt the butter over low heat; add water and sugar. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook until thickened, about 4 – 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Spoon glaze over warm cake, but cook completely before serving.
- 1 package cake mix, any flavor
- 1 tub frosting, any flavor
- 1 pound chocolate (dark, milk or white) meltys
Prepare cake mix according to package directions in 9″ x 13″ pan; cool completely. In a large bowl, finely crumble finished cake making sure there are no large lumps remaining. Add the entire tub of frosting into the cake mix and blend completely using a mixer. Chill cake-frosting mixture until firm.
Melt chocolate meltys in a double boiler or in the microwave until completely liquid and fluid. Using either your hands or a melon scoop, make 1 1/2″ – 2″ balls with the chilled cake-frosting mixture, then using two toothpicks, dip each ball into the melted chocolate until completely covered. Set each coated ball on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. When all the balls are coated, chill for a few minutes to set the chocolate. You can also put the cake balls on a stick before dipping (they look like a Tootsie Roll Pop).
(Photo Credits: Taste of Home, Liz, Network of Food and Bake Fun)