Home » Cheater’s Chocolate Cake (From a Box Mix!)

Cheater’s Chocolate Cake (From a Box Mix!)

cheater's chocolate cake feature

Cheater’s Chocolate Cake is chocolatey, moist, and tastes liked it’s baked from scratch. This is your go-to cake in a dessert emergency!

I always bake cakes from scratch. Except when I don’t. This is that cake.

I really love to bake, so taking a couple of hours to make a cake and frosting from scratch, assemble and decorate and do the whole thing makes me happy. I enjoy the process so it rarely feels like a chore. Except. Except when I’m running out of time. Or energy. Or just the mental bandwidth to get it all done. That’s when I reach for the boxed mixes. The thing is, I’ve got a reputation to uphold with this stuff. You can’t be a food blogger and the person all of your people call when recipes don’t work or they burn dinner or set their kitchen on fire (yep, my phone has rung for every one of those!) and go around with store-bought cookies and boxed cake. It’s not a good look, you know? So it has to taste legit.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve passed this cake off as the real deal. Dozens, if not hundreds. It’s that good. And I can pull it off because it’s not a boxed mix. It’s 2 boxed mixes, and that’s the magic. One cake mix, one brownie mix. We’re going to upgrade the extra ingredients a bit and come out with a cake that has more chocolate flavor and better texture than either mix would give you alone. Even better, we’re going to put it all in a bundt pan, so it’s going to look great with no filling, assembling, crumb coats, and thank the fates, not a piping bag in sight!

cheater's chocolate cake finished

Why Should I make Cheater’s Chocolate Cake?

  • It’s fast and easy. This is the dessert you’re going to bring to the potluck you ran out of time to bake a fancy dessert for. And to that meeting that you said you’d bring a snack for and forgot about until right now.
  • You probably have everything you need for the recipe in your pantry already. No trips to the store for this one. It is all of 5 ingredients.
  • It’s easy to dress up. There are so many options to top this cake, and most of them can be done in less time than it takes to bake the cake itself. Bonus – they’re all either dust-on-top or pour and go.
  • It tastes really good! None of the rest would matter if you were going to end up with a ho-hum cake. This isn’t. It’s a really good chocolate cake.

Ingredient Notes

cheater's chocolate cake ingredients
  • Cake Mix – 1 box of chocolate cake mix. Any brand you like. If you don’t have a particular one you always go for, The Kitchn did a great comparison test of boxed chocolate cake mixes here.
  • Brownie Mix – 1 box of brownie mix. You want the standard size for an 8×8 or 9×9 square pan. The family-size box for a 9×13 pan is going to be too much, and would overflow the Bundt pan, require adjusting the other ingredients, etc. Any brand you like, I would just stay away from the ones with chocolate chips or chunks in them.
  • Eggs – 4 eggs for this recipe. Standard size large.
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk is one of the two swaps from the ingredients on the back of the boxes that helps us get that homemade cake flavor. Buttermilk has a little tang to it, and some fat that will give us better flavor and a nicer texture. It is also slightly acidic, and that acid helps to prevent gluten development in the flour, making the cake more tender than it would be with water. If you don’t have buttermilk, place a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup, fill with milk to 1 1/3 cup, and wait 5 minutes. The acid in the lemon juice will react with the milk and you’ll be ready to go.
  • Melted Butter – The second ingredient swap in this cake is unsalted butter instead of oil. I like the flavor better with butter than oil. This is a debatable question, though. Some prefer the oil when making boxed cakes, as there are milk solids and water in butter that are not present in a vegetable oil. To each their own. If you would rather use the oil, go for it!

How to Make Cheater’s Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat the oven. 350F for this cake.
  • Prepare your baking pan. This recipe is designed for a standard 10-12 cup Bundt pan. The one I’m using in these pictures is my husband’s grandmother’s pan from about the 1960’s, so I can’t recommend the one I use. Nordic Ware is the originator of the Bundt pan, and you can find the classic one here. There are a ton of different designs that all make beautiful cakes. I’ve had my eye on this one for a long time, and am going to have to break down and buy one. There are a couple of ways to prepare a cake pan, but I just go for nonstick baking spray. Either Baker’s Joy or Pam for Baking will do the job.
  • Mix up the batter. One of the beautiful things about this cake is that it’s a dump it in the bowl and mix type of operation. There’s no creaming, sifting, folding, etc. Put your boxed mixes, eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter in the bowl together, and mix. I used my stand mixer, but a hand mixer or a sturdy whisk will work just fine. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure all of your batter is evenly mixed. Don’t overmix. That will introduce too much air into the batter and give you a fluffier texture than most people like in chocolate cake. It’s supposed to have a nice density to it.
chocolate cake batter in mixer
  • Pour the batter into the pan, and smooth out the top. Give the pan a few taps on the counter to make sure there are no air pockets that will create holes in your cake.
chocolate cake batter in bundt pan
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with small crumbs. Not perfectly clean! A clean toothpick means a dry cake. Dry cake is a tragedy.
  • Cool the cake. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack. Run a butter knife around the outside edge and around the center post of the pan before turning it to make sure the cake is not sticking. The easiest way to turn a cake out onto a rack it so put the rack on top of the cake pan and then flip the whole operation over. Flipping just the cake pan and hoping it lands right on the rack is more of a gamble than I’m comfortable with. I know people who do it, but they’re braver than I am.
chocolate bundt cake

How to Dress Up a Chocolate Bundt Cake

When I make this cake, it’s because I’m looking for quick and easy chocolate cake. One of the great things about a Bundt cake is that they already look pretty, so you don’t have to go too far to have an impressive dessert. That curved shape to the top of the cake just begs to have something run temptingly down the sides. The key to any of these toppings to make sure the cake is all the way cool before you add anything to it.

There are a lot of choices, and a number of them that work very well when you combine them. For this cake, I used:

You can also garnish the cake with:

The options are nearly endless.

So here it is, your “I forgot to make something and I need it tonight” emergency dessert cake. Or just your “I really want chocolate cake but don’t want to spend and hour getting it into the oven” cake. It’s a perfect low-stress/low-effort dessert for after a cozy meal like Cheesy Chicken Noodle Soup or Creamy Tomato Risotto with Riccota.

Cheater’s Chocolate Cake (From a Box Mix!)

Course: Cakes, Desserts
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Cheater’s Chocolate Cake is chocolatey, moist, and tastes liked it’s baked from scratch. This is your go-to cake in a dessert emergency!

Ingredients

  • 1 boxed chocolate cake mix

  • 1 boxed brownie mix

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Prepare 10 -12 cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray.
  • Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure the batter is fully mixed with no lumps.
  • Pour cake batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter.
  • Place pan in preheated oven, and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with small crumbs.
  • Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • Garnish with powdered sugar, chocolate ganache, whipped cream, caramel sauce, etc.

I love to see what you’re cooking. Tag me at #jessiescozykitchen or @jessiescozykitchen on Facebook and Instagram!

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