Oh hey! I bet you probably forgot this thing even still existed! Fear not loyal followers, I am still here to inspire your creative culinary juices- it’s just going to take a little while to get back in the swing of things.
Currently, my entire life is pretty much consumed by packing and cleaning. We’ve got less than two weeks until the big move so we’re scrambling to get things done. Needless to say, this doesn’t leave much time for creative cooking.
I will say though, being limited in food options (trying to use what’s on hand!), I have being doing a lot of recipe testing and have some super delicious meals that I am so excited to share with you. It might take me a few weeks, but good things ARE coming!
For now, I wanted to hold you over with this awesome and simple recipe that I made for my grandma’s birthday. In my family, I’ve sort of become the designated cake-maker because well, that shit is expensive and we’re all poor.
A lot of people believe that when they do cakes for a special occasion, it has to be super fancy and totally from scratch. My beliefs are contrary to that. When I make cakes for large groups, I always do what I call a “lazy” cake. This is taking boxed cake mix and giving it a homemade touch by swapping ingredients and adding fun flavors.
I’m usually opposed to the boxed stuff, but there’s a lot of pressure in making a special cake. This way; there’s a lot less room for error, you save a TON of money, and it cuts down on time. Plus, anyone can make this!
For my lazy chocolate cake, the only things I change are substituting the water for coffee (cooled), and I add 2 personal cups of chocolate pudding. The coffee adds depth of flavor and the chocolate pudding keeps it super moist.
SIDE NOTE: If you don’t like chocolate pudding cups or having them in your house, the frosting does call for pudding mix so you can use some of that to make about 1/2 cup of instant pudding ahead of time- just so that it can be fully set. This is what I do, but the pudding cups are far simpler.
Other than those two little tweaks, follow the directions on the box! How simple is that?!
As far as baking, you can make your tiers as thick or thin as you’d like. I keep them pretty thick because I don’t like a ton of frosting. But for two boxes, three layers is the absolute least I would do.
AND I always coat my pans in coconut oil because it makes for a flawless removal.
Perfection. Every. Time.
Before you start frosting, it’s VERY important that your layers are completely cooled. Even a little bit of internal warmth can screw up your whole gig, so don’t rush. Allot yourself enough time.
I usually try to forget about them and once they’re cooled, THAT’s when I start making the frosting. This allows for more cooling so there aren’t any oops-es.
This part is also very “semi-homemade” so again, the pressure is off. It’s gonna be hard to screw this up!
Before you do anything, heat up 1 tbsp of water to make your instant espresso. This is where you get the “mocha” flavor and it sends this frosting over the top! Butttttt it has to be scalding hot to make sure the powder dissolves, but you need it to be cooled to add into the pudding. Making it after you’ve already started is just a pain in the ass because you have to wait for it to cool.
Once that is done and set aside, get to making a really creamy, thick pudding. I use one cup of light cream (instead of milk) for the whole box. Whip that and add your (cooled!) espresso.
Instant pudding has to sit for a little to thicken up, but since we aren’t eating like this, I let it go for about two minutes right in the mixer. Then, just add your cool whip.
The cool whip gives it a really light and fluffy texture that you cannot help but love. And, unlike whip cream (in case you think you can substitute), you don’t have to be as gentle with the cool whip. Again, less room for error!
By now, you should be ready to frost. This part is fun because you can be really creative. I like to keep it super simple and just spread it right on there.
SIDE NOTE: if your cakes have a domed top, run a really sharp bread knife right over the top to make it flush. Always put the shaved side down so you can frost the smoother bottom of the cake.
Be real, how delicious does this look?!
Basically, all you do from here is frost each layer, pushing the frosting juuuuust over the edges, until the final piece. That is where you have to start being careful because it’s going to be what everyone sees.
I work from the middle of the cake, out, and then down the sides while turning your dish. If you aren’t familiar with frosting a cake, it’s well worth watching some Youtube videos.
My secret trick is going over it with the back of a large spoon. This gives is a really wavey, kind of rustic look.
After that, you can do anything you’d like to add some flare! A lot of people are afraid of piping cute designs, so I used chocolate chips. This makes it look a little fancier, and there’s literally no way to ruin your cake!
If you want to get really fancy and add another layer of awesomeness, drizzle melted chocolate right over the top.
I love this because I like the crispy-ness it adds when it hardens.Just take about 1/4 of chocolate chips, melt them in the microwave, and the spoon it into a ziplock bag and cut the tiniest hole in the corner and squeeze it out over the top!
As for the inside:
Helloooo gorgeous. Okay, this picture sucks because I was stuffing my face but you get the idea. The frosting holds up really well and it looks really pretty.
Noone will ever know that you cheated 😉
2 boxes chocolate cake mix
2 personal-sized pudding cups
Coffee (amount as directed on the box)
Assemble as directed, but substitute the water for cooled coffee.
Add pudding last and mix well
Bake following directions on the box
(if making 4 or more thin layers, double the recipe)
1 container of Cool Whip
1 package instant chocolate pudding
1 cup light cream
1 serving size of instant espresso
1 tbsp hot water
Combine water and espresso mix until dissolved, let cool
Mix cream and pudding mix, let sit until thickened (about 2-3 minutes)
Add espresso and mix well
Mix in Cool Whip on lowest setting until creamy
Frost each layer of cake, for assembly and topping ideas- see above