I’m ready to get baking, how about you?

After a long summer, I’m itching to heat up the oven and start baking cookies and cakes. Seriously, when does the snow start so I can justify cranking up the stove to 375 for an afternoon? I’ve had to temper my baking fixation with the occasional batch of blueberry muffins and of course a cobbler or two. But it’s just not the same as putting together something seriously sweet for a special occasion: my solution, an easy chocolate bundt cake.

I’m usually not the one to reach for a box instead of the flour, but with this cake you really can’t tell the difference so why go to all the work of making a cake from scratch? Plus, I pack on a smooth, gooey chocolate icing.

My mom has been making this chocolate cake since I was little. My copy has her handwritten instructions right from off of the box of a Duncan Hines cake mix. Of course, I’ve made a few adjustments to the original to put my own spin on the recipe. Around my house, this isn’t just cake—it’s comfort food. (Make your kids really happy by letting them have it in a bowl with milk for breakfast.)

And make a mental note for once the school year starts—this recipe comes together quickly so I always have the ingredients on hand for those times when one of my kids says, “Oh, yeah, mom I’m supposed to bring something in to class/soccer/girl scouts tomorrow. Can you make something?” One last note: It also freezes well, minus the icing, so you can even make one ahead if you can stand baking one and not eating it right away!

Recipe

Servings: 12 pieces

Preparation time: 15 minutes + baking time

Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix (fudge is my favorite)

1 package instant chocolate pudding

½ cup oil

1 ¼ cup water

4 eggs

½ teaspoon almond extract

Optional add-ins: 1 ½ cups miniature chocolate chips, 1 cup coconut, 1 cup chopped nuts or all of the above (just avoid marshmallows, it doesn’t work well as a mix-in)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a bundt pan with cooking oil then dust the pan with flour (the flour should coat the pan). Remove any excess flour by turning it upside down and tapping the bottom.

In a large bowl, blend all of the ingredients together (except the mix-ins) using a handheld mixer on high speed. Add your mix-ins. Pour the batter into the bundt pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted near the center of the cake.

Let the cake cook for about 25 minutes and then invert onto your serving dish.

Chocolate Icing:

4 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon Espresso powder (optional)

2 ½ Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons oil

2 Tablespoons corn syrup

¼ cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

2 cups powdered sugar

In a medium-sized saucepan, gradually bring all the ingredients to a medium-high heat and stir until smooth (about 4 minutes). Remove from the heat and add in the powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Allow the icing to cool until it thickens enough to pour over the cake. Dribble onto the cake allowing some icing to pool in the center. You can also garnish with nuts.

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