If you're craving a piece of rich chocolate cake and all you have in the cupboard is a box of white cake mix, don't despair. You can easily make chocolate cake from a white cake mix. With some imagination and the addition of a few ingredients, your chocolate cake will taste like a homemade dessert.
Don't be tempted to eat raw cake batter, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It may contain bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella_,_ causing serious foodborne illnesses.
Chocolate Benefits Your Health
Converting a vanilla cake to a chocolate dessert requires the addition of some form of chocolate. Depending on the recipe, you may use baking chocolate, dark chocolate or milk chocolate. Each type will have a different effect on the outcome.
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Unsweetened baking chocolate is made from finely ground cocoa beans and has no sugar, according to the Confectionery Foundation. Dark chocolate contains cocoa in varying amounts, along with sugar, vanilla flavoring and an emulsifier, such as soy lecithin. Milk chocolate contains less cocoa and more sugar plus milk solids and cocoa butter.
All chocolate is derived from cocoa beans. Cocoa is a source of healthy compounds that have a protective effect against degenerative diseases, reports a September 2017 study published in Frontiers in Immunology. Chocolate is rich in bioactive ingredients and polyphenols, such as flavonoids, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
According to the USDA, a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa provides the following nutrients:
- 12.3 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 0.7 grams of fat
- 3.1 grams of carbs
- 6.9 milligrams of calcium
- 26.9 milligrams of magnesium
- 39.6 milligrams of phosphorus
- 82.3 milligrams of potassium
- B vitamins
- Other micronutrients, including zinc, copper, selenium and iron
Make Chocolate Cake From White Cake Mix
Many desserts can be made using box chocolate cake mix recipes, but you can just as easily use a boxed white cake and add some form of chocolate to make a delicious dessert. All cake mixes have essentially the same ingredients: flour, sugar, vegetable oil, emulsifiers (fat replacers), corn starch (stabilizer), leavening agents and salt, according to USDA. The instructions on the back of the box typically call for the addition of eggs, water and oil.
To transform white cake mixes into chocolate, you have several options. The quickest and simplest method is to add a quarter-cup of dry cocoa powder to the batter. However, there are certain aspects you need to take into account.
Cocoa powder is broken into two basic types — natural and Dutch-process cocoa. Natural cocoa has most of its fat removed before being ground into powder. Dutch cocoa is natural cocoa treated with an alkalizing agent, which results in lower acidity and a more chocolaty flavor. However, the difference in acidity means a difference in the amount of leavener it contains, according to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISU Extension and Outreach).
If your boxed cake mix contains baking powder, you can use either natural or Dutch cocoa. If the mix doesn't contain baking powder, you should use natural cocoa. Alternately, you may use Dutch cocoa by adding a leavener or an acidic ingredient like yogurt, vinegar, buttermilk or sour cream to the batter, advises ISU Extension and Outreach.
The more cocoa powder you add, the richer the chocolate flavor will be. However, you may need to offset the dry ingredient with a form of liquid. If the recipe on the box calls for two eggs, you could add three. Or add a little more liquid than what it's required. Better still, substitute the water for chocolate sauce, buttermilk or cooled coffee.
Bake according to the instructions on the package. You will know if the cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before icing or slicing.
Making Your Cake Taste Homemade
When you convert vanilla cake recipe to chocolate, consider some tips and tricks that will not only make your cake healthier but fluffier and lighter too.
- Instead of using cocoa powder, add a 4-ounce package of instant chocolate pudding mix, a packet of hot chocolate mix or a scoop of chocolate-flavored protein powder to the cake mix.
- Add 1/4 cup of sour cream for a moist creamy consistency.
- Incorporate semi-sweet chocolate chips, crushed almonds or dried cherries to liven up the flavor.
- Add melted baking chocolate squares to the mix. To offset the extra liquid, increase the dry ingredients by adding quinoa flakes, chia seeds or almond flour.
When using various cocoa-derived products, consider the sugar content as you may need to adjust the recipe. For example, unsweetened cocoa powder has zero grams of sugar. One-third cup, or 43 grams, of baking chocolate chips, such as those contained in our Gluten-Free Blondies recipe, contributes about 23 grams of sugar to the dessert, according to USDA.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Say No to Raw Dough"
- Confectionary Foundation: "How Is Chocolate Made?"
- Frontiers in Immunology: "From Cocoa to Chocolate: The Impact of Processing on In Vitro Antioxidant Activity and the Effects of Chocolate on Antioxidant Markers In Vivo"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cocoa, Dry Powder, Unsweetened"
- USDA FoodData Central: "White Cake Mix"
- Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: "Natural vs Dutch-process Cocoa"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chocolate Chips"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chocolate Sauce"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Puddings, Chocolate, Dry Mix, Instant"