Before I gave birth to my oldest daughter I was off work for 3 months. We moved from Amhertsburg to Sudbury Ontario 8 hours away, I was 6 months pregnant at the time. New city, no job and about to have a baby. We hadn't sold our Amherstburg house so we were living in the basement apt of good friends of ours. I had nothing to do most days so I baked. It worked out so well cause I could bake a huge batch and share it with our friends upstairs without having to worry about waste. The Mrs would tell me how much she didn't enjoy baking. It wasn't that she wasn't good at it, just that she had no desire. I totally get it cause I am the exact same way with cooking. I can do it but its definitely a chore. But I am here to tell you that it is so easy to make gourmet styled desserts with little effort.
I love cupcakes!! Like LOVE them. Its my favorite thing to bake with my kids. They have so much fun and ask to make them regularly. When we bake together we use a mix. It so much easier. I feel like boxed cake gets a bad rap. I had a friend once who would ask me every time I baked a cake if it was from scratch or a box. She would then turn her nose and not eat it if it was boxed! For real!
Don't get me wrong, I try and bake from scratch as often as I can and especially if it's a paid order. Sometimes though, I don't have the time cause I was asked to bring dessert to a function last minute, or I'm lazy so I grab a box. Let me tell you, people cannot taste the difference most times. I get TONS of compliments on how moist, fluffy and delicious my cakes are when they are made from a box.
So today I am going to give you a few tips on how to turn your box mix into gourmet cupcakes in just a few minutes.
First pick your mix! I wanted to try something funky today so I'm using Duncan Hines white cake mix. I want to change the flavor and color of these cupcakes. I want to try and make watermelon flavor and look. I included two different types of food coloring in the picture. Your basic liquid food coloring or the Wilton gel food coloring. I prefer the Wilton for a few reasons. One they have a large range of colors to choose from and two they require less to achieve the right shade. The color tends to fade when baking so you want your batter to be darker. It's just all around easier to achieve this with the gel color. You can get it at the Bulk Barn and Michael's craft stores.
Next for flavor I wanted to try something a little different. I found these flavor oils while browsing at Bulk Barn one day. They can be used for so many purposes, when making candies or even to flavor your fondant. There are only a couple bucks and you only need a couple drops cause its so concentrated so it should last a bit.
Collect all your ingredients. It's easier if you measure ahead of time and have everything ready before you start mixing. Preheat your oven according to the directions and get your pans ready and lined.
Next put away your mixer and grab a bowl and a whisk!! I will explain shortly. One of the first things I do before I add ingredients is to whisk the dry mix. It helps break up any clumps and adds some air to the mix. You may notice I had a little helper on the recipe!
Next pour in the ingredients as marked on the box. Now they give you specific instructions on how long to mix it. This is very important. You do not want to over mix it!! That's where the bowl and whisk come it. I find it is too easy to over mix with a mixer. you get caught up or aren't looking at the time and you go too long. You only want to mix until it is blended. When you over mix it, the gluten in the flower can form elastic gluten strands, causing a more dense and chewy texture. What we want is light, fluffy and moist!
At any point you can add your food coloring and flavor. I tend to add them at the beginning with my other ingredients so I don't run into over mixing it. Remember only a drop or two of the flavor oil or else it will take over! It is really concentrated and it only takes a little bit. Any more and the smell and taste will overwhelm you. You want it to be a nice subtle taste! But for color load it in. Remember the color fades when baking!
Now it's time to scoop. If you want even sized cupcakes I suggest you get an old fashion ice cream scoop that has the trigger. That way you know how much you are getting each time and it scrapes it out for you!
Into the oven they go! They always give an estimate on the time and each oven is different. So I always put it at the shortest time listed and then check with the toothpick. If it's clean then take em out! If not put them in for another minute or two until the toothpick is clean. Just like over mixing we don't want to over back them!
Let them cool and top them with your favorite buttercream!
Perfect, fluffy and delicious cupcakes every time!
Comment below if you are interested in other boxed mix ideas!