I’m a busy gal, as most of you reading this are.  We run from job to family, to other commitments, and wear many hats.

One of the things I like to do to calm myself and get lost in the moment is to bake.  I love baking, but tend to be a baking snob.  I only want to bake if I can use the very best ingredients.  The highest quality chocolate, REAL butter, preferably Irish or French, pure Madagascar vanilla, the freshest fruit, and so on.  Not only does my effort have to look good, it has to taste even better.

My attitude is that I can go to any bakery and get some pretty, mass-produced confection, made with lesser quality ingredients five days ago, with enough preservatives to store it for another decade..or even worse, pre-baked and FROZEN!  SO if I am going to invest my precious free time into baking, it better be the best and produce a worthy result.

I am a good baker, and have had many requests for my goods.  If I love the person, and you know who you are, I always try to comply.  So when my beautiful SIL Franca asked me to make dozens of cupcakes for her gorgeous, soon to be DIL’s shower, I went into experiment mode.  They requested my Limoncello cupcakes and my Strawberry Sweethearts, (ironically another amazing recipe that uses  two box mixes,) featured  recently  here…

But they also wanted something chocolatey.

I started experimenting, and the other day I stumbled upon a simply life changing mash-up, (a “mash-up” being the act of combining  two known entities to create a third,) that changed how I look at baking.

I was watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa, (LOVE Ina,)  and noticed that she added a secret ingredient, Hershey’s Syrup, to a chocolate cake recipe.

The cake is to die for, recipe here,

I wondered if I could take that to a new level, and yet still produce something incredible, with little time and not too much effort.

I love a challenge.

I went to the grocery and purchased this…..


Yes, that is a BOX cupcake mix, Duncan Hines Red Velvet…..

Then I came  home and added my own “flavor booster”, this Chocolate Salted Caramel sauce from a jar I had left in the fridge….

I mixed it in ONE BOWL, and it took me three minutes to throw together…..

The result was the most moist, decadent, delicious cupcake I have ever had, and I’ve had them from Boston to Paris and back!

I used my own cream cheese frosting, but the frosting in the box would probably have been perfectly fine because it calls for real butter and cream cheese.

So no more MEASUREING!  No more SIFTING!  No more multiple bowls and spoons and sifters to clean…

And the best darn cupcake I ever ate. Who KNEW?

I call it Salted Caramel Velvet, but you can just call it  “Oh, MY God!!!”

The  Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel sauce is from Stonehill Kitchen and not cheap, but the cupcake mix is, compared to buying ingredients to bake from scratch. I get mine at Whole Foods, but you can order it here

on the Stonewall Kitchen website.

Easy directions…….

In ONE BOWL, beat the eggs, oil, water and mix as per box direction. Then add in  three heaping tablespoons of the chocolate sauce, microwaved for about thirty seconds to soften it.

Bake as per box instructions, and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.


FullSizeRender 105

and THAT’S IT!

This baking snob has been humbled,  and as Ina would say, “how easy is THAT?”

Have a satisfyingly sweet day ~








  1. i’ve used that red velvet box mix many times and it is always a fan favorite!! i’ll have to try it with the salted caramel. i hope they make an appearance next tax season ! i will agree, you are a great cook and a great baker! 🙂


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