How to Give a Boxed Cake Mix an Upgrade for Valentine's Day

Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hour

Love the convenience of a boxed cake mix but crave that homemade touch and taste? We don’t blame you. For Valentine’s Day, or any day that calls for chocolate cake (so basically all of the days), let’s add a little sparkle to our trusted mixes. By adding in a bit of richness and a few flavor boosters, a boring boxed cake can truly be decadent. These simple upgrades are so good, your sweetheart (or whoever is lucky enough to nab a slice) won’t even know this dessert hack started with a boxed mix.


1. Swap the oil for butter: Instead of using vegetable or canola oil that a boxed cake mix typically calls for, try substituting it with melted, unsalted butter. In cakes made from scratch, the butter is creamed with the sugar. You can skip this step and still have that rich, flavorful, homemade taste.

3. Add coffee: In many chocolate baked goods, adding in some instant espresso or coffee gives depth to the chocolatey flavor. In this case, substitute some of the water for strong coffee.

4. Add dairy: For extra richness, substitute the remaining amounts of water with milk, buttermilk or even sour cream. Sour cream is a great option when working with chocolate cake because not only does it add a bit of fat (think rich and tender!), but the acidity pairs well with chocolate.

5. Add a yolk: While most boxed cake mixes will call for about three eggs, adding an extra egg yolk adds flavor and richness. If you prefer your chocolate cake to be on the fudgey, decadent side, add an extra yolk.

6. Instant pudding for instant moisture: While you’re browsing the baking aisle for your fave mix, grab a box of instant pudding too. Adding this to the mix makes the cake extra moist.

7. Toss in some chips: More chocolate is never a bad idea. Mini chocolate chips are better than regular chips since they don’t sink in the batter as easily.

8. Pair a boxed cake with homemade frosting: Want a real upgrade? Ice your boxed mix cake with from-scratch fudge frosting.

Boxed Cake Mix Upgrade Recipe

Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Serves 1

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  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • homemade fudge frosting



Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two 8-inch round pans and set aside.


Stir together the cake mix, pudding, eggs and melted butter.


Whisk in the remaining liquid ingredients until smooth.


Fold in the mini chocolate chips.

5. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.


Bake for about 30 to 34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with few crumbs.


Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.


Completely cool cakes before frosting.

Cake, DIY Recipes, Food
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