Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Doctoring a Cake Mix and Cupcake Frostings

Sometimes... you have no choice but to take a baking shortcut.

In my opinion, single-handedly making five types of desserts for 45 people, over a span of 2 days, calls for a shortcut or two.

For my brunch in honor of Momma Vittles, I decided that I wanted to make mini vanilla cupcakes - but I didn't want to take the time to make the batter from scratch so I doctored up a cake mix.

Multiple people at the brunch asked me for the recipe because they were so "moist" and "wonderful".  I wasn't embarrassed to admit it was a mix that I just fixed up a bit, and they asked me to put the shortcut here on V&B.  (Which, by the way, made me so happy that people are reading it!)

So, here is my tip: Substitute 1 cup of buttermilk for the water in the recipe.  If you're using a white cake to make vanilla cupcakes, add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to boost the real vanilla flavor.  Follow the rest of the recipe as it is on the box.

But since this isn't technically a recipe and I don't want to cheat you all, I will also share a couple of recipes for a vanilla frosting and a chocolate sour cream frosting that you can use to pipe onto your cupcakes.  I just think that for cupcakes, it looks so much cuter when you can pipe the icing on rather than spread it on!

So these two frostings are both conducive to holding the shape of a decorator's tip.  The vanilla one is so light and fluffy, it almost tastes like whipped cream.  And the chocolate one is rich with just a hint of tang from the sour cream and cream cheese.


Vanilla Frosting
  • 3 T flour
  • 1/2 C. milk (whole milk is best, but you can use lower fat versions as well)
  • 1/2 C. real butter (one stick)
  • 1/2 C. granulated sugar  
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
Whisk together the flour and the milk in a small saucepan on medium heat.  Continue whisking until mixture starts to thicken and it looks like smooth, shiny pudding (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you stir it).  Once it hits this point, promptly remove it from the stove and immediately empty it into a mesh strainer set over a bowl.  The mixture will be thick, but you can whisk within the strainer and also use the back of a spatula to push it through (you just don't want any residual flour lumps to go into the mixer.)

Let mixture cool to room temperature (you can chill in fridge to speed this up).  Just make sure it's cooled completely, otherwise it will melt the butter and you'll have runny frosting!

In an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar for a minute or two until well-combined and fluffy.  Then while beating, add in thickened milk mixture and the vanilla.  Beat on the highest speed you can for 7-8 minutes.  It will start out looking like a mess but I promise after being mixed that long it will turn out smooth and fluffy.

Spread or pipe onto cupcakes using pastry bag fitted with decorating tip.  I was able to pipe a dollop onto about 60 mini cupcakes with some leftover (as shown in the above pictures) but depending on how much you use, you could frost anywhere from 12-24 regular sized cupcakes.
    Recipe from Our Best Bites blog


    Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
    • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 4 T. butter, at room temperature
    • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    • 3 T. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, heating at 15 second intervals and stirring after each heating.  Set aside to cool until just barely warm.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate and then the sour cream.  Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and well blended.  Frost cupcakes immediately.

    Recipe Adapted from Annie's Eats blog


    1. Thanks for this. I often get mistakes when I am baking!

    2. I have found that a fun and delicious way to doctor chocolate boxed cake mix is substitute brewed coffee for the water in the mix. It's rich and amazing!


    3. @Jordan I never thought of that, what a great idea!

    4. Truly I discovered this article more useful, much obliged for sharing this article
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    I love reading your comments!

    If you have a question or problem you can also feel free to email me at vittlesandbits@gmail.com. Thanks for visiting :)


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