I am an admitted food snob. I was horrified simply by the idea of Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade, even when I had never watched the show. However, when I got a little older and had full time obligations like work and grad school, I started thinking that maybe “semi-homemade” cooking could be a useful tool in my cooking repertoire.
So one Saturday, I took the time to watch Sandra Lee in all of her Semi-Homemade glory….and then promptly threw up on my couch. If you think this assessment of her cuisine is harsh, then stop reading this now and google “Sandra Lee Kwanza Cake” and get back to me.
Though my feelings towards Sandra Lee’s show and recipes haven’t changed (cue gagging sounds), I think the “semi-homemade” premise isn’t bad. Even Ina Garten takes short cuts sometimes and she’s a FREAKIN’ CONTESSA. So let’s dip our toes into the pond of “semi-homemade” and see if we can come up with something besides garbage food! First Adventure: Baking with cake mixes to make our lives easier and full of cake.
Spiced Chocolate Cake with Blackstrap Rum
I’ve made cupcakes and a bundt cake with this recipe. Both times, I iced them with caramel and salt buttercream and decorated them with burnt sugar shards. You do not need to do any of that for these to taste amazing. Icing them with your favorite store brand chocolate icing (you can even stir in some cinnamon or rum with the icing) or even just dusting your cake with powdered sugar will be delicious. Remember this is supposed to make your life easier.
- 1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines “Fudgey Fudge” Cake Mix)
- 1-teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-teaspoon ground coffee
- 1/2-teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4-teaspoon cloves
- Whatever it says on the box (mine said 1 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3 eggs)
- 1 tablespoon black strap or dark rum (Kalouha would also work)
The Process: For 99% of this recipe you will follow the directions on the box. Pre-heating instructions, what type of pan, how long to mix and bake, etc. will all stay the same.
1) Prepping the dry ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together with a whisk, the dry ingredients listed above.
2) Have a separate, bigger bowl for the liquid ingredients. You want it to be big enough to eventually add the dry ingredients to the liquid.
3) Adding the rum: Get a measuring cup to measure the water. Before measuring the water, add 1 tablespoon of rum to the measuring cup. Then proceed to fill up the rest of the measuring cup with the however much liquid the cake mix box tells you.
4) Mix your wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients to them and mix them based on the directions on the box. From here on out, follow the directions on the box.
*Cookies and Salt Tip: In baking, you can usually swap like consistencies go with like consistencies i.e. 1 tablespoon of alcohol can replace 1 tablespoon of water without altering the consistency of the cake. If your cake mix doesn’t require water or any other thin liquid, don’t try and replace the fat /oil with something as thin as alcohol. Just add it and keep the measurements for the oil, eggs, etc. the same.
The Verdict: Per my husband’s meticulous research and taste testing, he had this to say: “You wouldn’t know it came out of a box. Also, you should put rum in everything.” Have to say, I agree with him.
I received no monetary compensation or any free swag for writing this post. I also might be on Sandra Lee’s black list now #sorrynotsorry