sometimes, love comes in a box (mix)

If I have a philosophy on food and eating, it’s been that homemade is better 95 percent of the time, and that homemade equals wholesome, even if it’s sweet or fattening or decadent.  I doubt any nutritionist will be handing me an award for heart-healthiness anytime soon, but I hope that when my kids get older, they’ll remember warm chocolate chip cookies that Mom made, and that eating one was just enough of a treat.  As such, we don’t keep bags of Chips Ahoy or Twinkies in the house, and I try to make breads and cakes to keep around.

And I get very excited to make birthday cakes, because how else can I – being who I am – tell you how special you are than by measuring and mixing and layering and frosting a tower of sugar in your honor?

So, when Husband’s birthday rolled around this week, I posed the question I ask every year: would he prefer my chocolate layer cake (the one that uses hot coffee in the batter and is topped with chocolate buttercream) or the “inside out chocolate cake” his mom made him every year when he was growing up.  And, as I’d guessed, the answer was the same as it was the other 10 years I have asked: the mom cake.

Now, this is a project that celebrates the brilliance of modern grocery stores and convenience foods, that is the core of the strategy that has made Sandra Lee famous (infamous?), and that goes against my every cooking instinct.  With the exception of milk and eggs, every ingredient (three of them) comes from a box, processed to the hilt, artificial flavors and colors in small print.  I cannot even get the ingredients for this cake at Whole Foods.

But when I squash my inner food snob for a second (as we all should once in awhile, for fear of missing out on deliciousness if we don’t), I know why he likes the cake, and why I’m one of the first to join him in having a slice or three: it’s super-chocolatey, and the inside is gooey while the outside is perfectly neat – making it a great “hand cake.” And who doesn’t want a taste of their childhood when they can get it? Sure, I’d take yellow cake (what flavor is “yellow,” anyway?) with chocolate frosting, but the trip down memory lane is the same comfortable one.

And, this is the world’s simplest cake – so simple, in fact, that I largely let our 2- and 4-year-olds make it this year.  I only poured it in the pan and put it in the oven.  So, I amend my philosophy a little – made from scratch or made from a mix, food made with love is the stuff I’m after, the stuff people will remember and ask for.  And this recipe?  Well, it’s definitely been made with love, for a very special guy, by his mom for years and years, by me for the last 10, and now by his kids.

And that, I think, takes the cake.

Chocolate Inside Out Cake
(makes one Bundt cake)

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups whole milk
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.  Butter and flour a Bundt cake pan (I use Pam for Baking, to get into all those corners.)

Combine all ingredients and mix by hand for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn
out onto a baking rack.

Dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy with a glass of milk, or vanilla ice cream, or sweetened whipped cream, or coffee.  Or all of the above.

  1. Kristen said:

    Hi–I think you should do a blog post about what you eat/make either before or after a speedy run like you had the other day.

  2. lindsay said:

    aww i LOVE this post!!!

  3. Katherine G. said:

    Just saw this and love it. I have on several occasions made Dave the ice cream cake his mom made for him as a kid. It’s not from a mix, but does involve marshmallow fluff and old-fashioned rectangular boxes of ice cream. The difference between me and Dave’s mom: I cut bigger slices and let him eat as much of it as he wants!

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