There are tons of homemade chocolate cupcake recipes out there that look delicious. However, when you don’t have the time to try them out before an event, you never know how they are actually going to turn out.
That’s when turning to the boxed cake mix you find in the store seems like a safer option. BUT you want your cupcakes to taste like they are homemade. So, what do you do?
You tweak the box mix!
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That’s right. By deviating from the directions on the back of the cake mix and adding a few, simple ingredients, you can have delicious cupcakes that taste like they are homemade. In fact, I served these exact cupcakes, along with these vanilla cupcakes that I hacked as well, at my son’s birthday party and they were raved about for days.
So let’s dive into how you can turn a box of chocolate cake mix into cupcakes that taste like they were made from scratch.
How to Make Chocolate Cake Mix into the BEST Chocolate Cupcakes
With just a few small and easy changes, you can make gourmet cupcakes from a cheap box mix. I’m here to help you bake the best chocolate cupcakes starting with picking the right mix and then baking them to perfection.
Start With the Right Mix
Choose a quality brand of cake mix for your cupcakes! This will make all the difference as it’s the base of your recipe.
Most bakers agree that Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines produce the best quality cake mixes you can buy at the grocery store. So, use one of these or your favorite box that you’ve used before and you know is good.
I used the Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge cake mix because Betty has never let me down.
If you’re a Type A, by-the-book kind of person like I am, this part may be a little difficult for you. However, we are not going to follow most of the directions on the back of the box. Trust me though, it’s for the best.
Here are the adjustments you’ll make:
Swap the vegetable oil for butter and multiply it by 1.5.
This specific box mix calls for ½ a cup of oil. So, we are going to use butter instead and use ¾ cup of butter. This substitution gives the cupcakes a homemade taste and the additional butter makes them more moist.
Swap the water for whole milk keeping the measurement the same.
You can use regular milk, but I prefer to use whole milk as it has more fat and will leave you with a really great texture. Simply replace the water with milk in a 1:1 ratio. This recipe called for 1 ¼ cups of water, so I used 1 ¼ cups of whole milk.
With two small additions to this mix, your cupcakes are going to taste like they are from an upscale bakery!
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Add one more egg than the directions tell you to.
Some people like to use two additional eggs, however, I found that using one extra egg makes the consistency of the cupcakes just perfect. This box called for three eggs to be added to the mix. So, we are going to add four eggs.
Add cocoa powder.
The box mix just doesn’t yield a rich chocolatey taste. So, I added an additional two tablespoons of cocoa powder. This makes your chocolate cupcakes actually taste like CHOCOLATE!
If you’re really a chocolate fiend, you might even choose to add in some chocolate chips as well. However, I wanted to keep it semi-mellow for my guests.
I have a whole other post on how to make your boxed cake mix taste better that you can check out. For this specific recipe, there isn’t a lot you need to do to make sure your cupcakes turn out perfect. I do have a few small, simple tips to make sure you’re successful though.
Crack your eggs, one by one, into a separate cup or bowl.
It’s no fun to try to fish egg shells out of your batter. So, when cracking your eggs, do so into a measuring cup or bowl that you have close by. Crack the egg, make sure there’s no shell in it, and then add it to the bowl. Do this will all four eggs individually and you’ll save yourself time in the long run.
Fill your cupcake liners correctly.
When baking cupcakes, you should only fill your cupcake liners ¾ of the way full. Otherwise, they can overflow, spill out, and burn. This can ruin the other cupcakes around the one that was too full causing a big loss.
I like to use a cookie scoop to control how much batter is going into each liner. That way I can make sure that there is enough room for the cupcake to expand. If you need to, do a test run on a few and make sure the cupcakes reach the height you want before baking a whole batch.
Add an extra cupcake liner to your finished cupcakes.
If you’re wanting picture-perfect liners, you might want to add a clean liner over the liner you used to bake your cupcake in. That way the oil and any batter residue won’t show on the outside.
Make small individual batches.
If you are needing to use more than one box of cake mix for lots of cupcakes, make individual batches. This keeps the resulting cupcakes more consistent. Bigger batches can sometimes get ruined and it’s usually a good idea to make them in individual batches. I just use several bowls next to each other so I can batch them all at once and keep them individual.
Top with homemade frosting if you have time.
If you top these cupcakes with homemade icing, it’s almost assumed that you made the entire thing from scratch. I used a buttercream chocolate frosting that took little time and turned out amazing. I piped it on with a cheap frosting kit and received so many compliments.
Hacked Box Mix Chocolate Cupcakes that Taste Homemade
- *The amount of ingredients you need will vary if you use a different cake mix. Just make sure that the ratios are followed and you should end up with a perfect cupcake!
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- 3/4 cup butter melted/room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Preheat your oven as directed on the box recipe.
- Line your cupcake pan.
- Add all of your ingredients to a bowl and whisk or mix together with a stand or hand mixer for about two minutes.
- Fill your cupcake liners about ¾ of the way full with batter.
- Bake as directed on the box until you can test with a toothpick. You can also tell that the cupcakes are done by poking the top with your finger (be careful if it is still hot). If the cupcake bounces back, it is done. If your finger leaves a dent in the top, the cupcake is not cooked thoroughly.
- Cool your cupcakes and frost if desired. I used this recipe to frost my cupcakes.
Your cupcakes will turn out moist, rich, and will taste like they were made from scratch! If you want a fun, easy way to display your cupcakes, check out this easy DIY box cupcake display.