Make Boxed Cupcakes Taste Like Homemade

photo 2Don’t have enough time to bake cupcakes from scratch, but want that nice homemade flavor? Well I discovered a trick to help make those box mixes taste a little better…milk! Replace the water with milk or a richer flavor. Want to make those cupcakes extra delicious? Substitute melted butter for the oil as well!


Cocoa: A Word in Review

Growing up, I always loved baking and the only cocoa I knew was Hershey’s. As I grew older I started to realize the rest of my options. The quality of ingredients always has some effect on the end result, but usually there is little change. This is different with chocolate ingredients. A good cocoa powder can make any simple chocolate cookie rise to the top.

Here is my basic list of the brands of unsweetened cocoa powder that I have used in baking:

1. HERSHEY’S: This may be what I grew up with, but I would never buy it now. You can see in the color alone that this is not a quality product. The shade of brown resembles a beach more closely than a chocolate bar. I would say “you get what you pay for” but I definitely think the price is too high for this product.

2. Nestlé: In my opinion, this is a really good cocoa for those not looking to spend much. In some stores it will cost even less than Hershey’s and it is much more delicious. If you plan on baking frequently or you just don’t wish to spend a lot of money, this is a great option for you.

3. Ghiradelli: Looking for a higher-end cocoa, but nothing too fancy? This is the cocoa for you. Ghiradelli cocoa will help you make some incredibly delicious cakes, cookies, or brownies. And you can even use it for some homemade hot cocoa. This powder has the best of both worlds; powerful taste for a small cost.

4. Valrhona: YUM. This cocoa is my favorite. It’s pricey, but well worth the money. I purchased 1lb through Amazon and was shocked when I opened the package. The powder is extremely dark and the intense chocolate aroma emanates from the back. If you’re looking for a really special treat, Valrhona is the one. But be warned; once you taste a bit of Valrhona’s magic you won’t be able to settle for less.

So there you have it, folks. My reviews and recommendations for cocoa powder. Here’s the recap:

NEVER buy Hershey’s again unless you like fake chocolate.

Nestlé offers a wonderfully AFFORDABLE quality product.

Ghiradelli starts to get FANCY and it’s worth it.

Valrhona will send your taste-buds straight to HEAVEN.