Learn how to make the ultimate chocolate cake recipe from a doctored chocolate cake mix. No one will ever believe this easy dessert wasn’t made from scratch.
The ultimate chocolate cake recipe is something that you always want to have in your back pocket. But this delicious chocolate cake is from a doctored chocolate cake mix. And your friends or guests will never be able to tell!
Hi, there Kenarry readers! I’m Meaghan from Cook. Craft. Love. My little slice of internet where I serve up simple, low cost, low effort desserts. Who says you can’t have an insanely easy dessert that looks (and tastes) like it took all day?
I’ve contributed recipes to Kenarry in the past. You might remember this cherry pie ice box cake or these easy donut sugar cookies or these amazing ice cream sandwich cookies. But this is my first time putting fingers to keyboard to chat with you directly. And I’m very excited to be here sharing this ultimate chocolate cake recipe!
Because this recipe was too good — and too easy — not to share with you myself. So here we go!
No, wait. Wrong story.
A few months ago I attended a birthday party where a friend of a friend supplied the cake. And this cake, y’all. Let me tell you. I don’t often
ask beg for other people’s cake recipes (because if we’re being honest my vegan chocolate cupcake recipe is my favorite of all time). But this cake was SO chocolatey and SO moist and SO delicious that I just had. to. have. it.
By the time she finally sent me the recipe, I realized it required several ingredients I don’t keep on hand (like coffee) and that it was time-consuming. And holy butter, Batman.
My search for the Ultimate Chocolate Cake Recipe began.
But I wanted this cake. No, I needed this cake. Or this cake’s eerily familiar twin.
And the internet needed me to have it too because it showed me video after video after video of ooey, gooey, moist chocolate cake recipes. With thick, creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. It taunted me with chocolate cake recipes from Pinterest to Facebook to Instagram.
But they were all the same. They only promised chocolatey goodness if I was willing to buy a container of coffee or lots of expensive dark chocolate. I wasn’t willing to do either, to be honest.
But I wanted to figure out a way to get that cake from the glowing screen of the internet into my kitchen. Using only what I had on hand. Which happened to be a fudge cake mix, dark chocolate fudge frosting, and dark chocolate chips. Done.
From Dull to Delicious with a Box Chocolate Cake Mix
I know what you’re thinking, dear reader. “But, Meaghan. Box chocolate cake mixes are nothing special. They can wind up kinda dry and a little flat on flavor.” I know. I know. Trust me. I was very against box cake mix for years.
But box cake mixes are so dang easy. They’re a simple way to make a beautiful cake without having to keep 10 different ingredients in your pantry, measure everything just so, and hope it turns out right.
There are also a few simple hacks to take your cake from blah to oh, yeah in just a few simple steps. Which is exactly how I hacked this ultimate chocolate cake recipe.
How to doctor chocolate cake mix without pudding
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Kitchen Tools and Supplies:
Here’s what you’ll need from the store. The exact amounts are in the printable card at the bottom of this post.
A lot of hacked boxed cake mix recipes tell you to use instant pudding to make it fudgier but I’ve never been a fan. I think your cake ends up too crumbly. And that’s no bueno when you want to slather it with thick fudgy frosting.
The first thing you want to remember when trying to take ANY cake mix to the next level is to add an extra egg. The extra fat will immediately elevate the cake. And speaking of extra fat use melted butter instead of oil in a 1 to 1 ratio, and milk instead of water.
Then you want to make sure you beat the eggs very well with the butter and milk before adding the dry mix. The less you beat the batter the more tender your cake will be and the flatter it will be on top once it’s baked. Which means more delicious cake that you don’t have to level in order to stack it. Boom.
But the real ultimate hack for a fudgy and delicious chocolate cake from a box? Chocolate chips.
In a microwave safe dish, melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips for 30 seconds, stir, then melt in 10 second increments, stirring after each one, until totally melted. Fold this gently into the batter but be careful not to overmix. Remember, you want tender, flat cake.
Bake according to package directions and check it with a toothpick to see if it’s done. This is important: you want the toothpick to have a few crumbs on it. It’ll continue to cook with the residual heat from the pan when you take it out of the oven so make sure you see some crumbs on your toothpick. Otherwise, you run the risk of the cake being too dry.
Let the cakes cool completely in their pans then remove them, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. This makes frosting them SO much easier.
Since you have pre-made frosting and you didn’t overmix your cake and make it dome the rest is a cinch. (If you did get a dome or hump on your cake don’t worry, just mix less next time and trim it off this time.) Use a little dollop of frosting to adhere the first cake to your cake stand or board, then add half a container of the premade frosting and spread over the top of the cake.
Don’t skimp. Yes, you want to use that much for the frosting sandwich layer. No, you don’t want to use less. Promise.
Add the other cake on top so that what was the bottom is facing up. This keeps your cake nice and level and allows you to fill in any gaps from a slightly domed cake with some frosting as you frost the sides. Yum.
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting and then refrigerate for 15 minutes. This will make the final coat of frosting as easy as…well…cake. 😉
Once chilled, microwave your remaining fudgy frosting (it’s kinda thick) for 15-20 seconds. You want it soft NOT pourable. Frost your cake with the remaining frosting, smoothing it with a cake scraper or large spatula.
Try to share and enjoy!
The Ultimate Chocolate Cake Recipe from a Box
- 1 box fudge or dark chocolate cake mix
- Melted Butter
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 16 oz containers dark fudge frosting
- Melt dark chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds and stir. Then melt in 10 second increments, stirring after each one, until smooth. Fold melted chocolate into the batter being careful not to overmix.
- Grease and line 2 8″ round cake pans and evenly distribute the batter between them.
- Bake according to the directions for your cake mix or until toothpick inserted in the center has a few crumbs.
- Allow cakes to cool completely in their pans. Once cakes are cool, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Place one cake bottom side down on your cake stand or board and spread 1/2 a container of frosting over the top. Place your second cake on top, bottom side up, and crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Once cake is chilled microwave the remaining fudge frosting for 15 to 20 seconds (you want it easy to spread not pourable!) and frost the cake using a cake scraper or large spatula.
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While you’re here, be sure to check out other easy dessert ideas on Ideas for the Home by Kenarry® –
- Chocolate Cake Balls Recipe
- Sparkly Chocolate Fudge Cookies
- S’mores Chocolate Fudge Cake
- Easy Potluck Desserts: Feed A Crowd Without the Effort
Originally published September 2018. Updated September 2019.