I love to bake from scratch, but sometimes (the horror!), I only have time for boxed cake mix. And boxed pudding. And, you know what? It tastes just fine … to be completely honest, sometimes boxed brownies even taste better than the real deal. There, I said it.
Baking from scratch is probably the more frugal route for basic cakes most of the time, but let’s not forget that time and stress have a cost, too, so if you want to use boxed cake mix sometimes, I say go for it. Sometimes the grocery store even has them on sale for $1 per box. So, without further ado: quick and easy, but fancy-looking cupcakes!
Quick and Easy Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- Eggs, oil and water (plus other ingredients, if needed) in quantites as directed on your cake mix box
- 1 box instant French Vanilla pudding
- Milk, quantity indicated on your pudding box (mine took 2 cups of cold milk)
- 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 24 maraschino cherries, stemmed
Preheat your oven to the temperature indicated on your cake mix box - I used Duncan Hines SuperMoist and the oven temperature was 350 degrees F. Grease two regular sized (12 muffin wells) muffin tins well with butter or cooking spray. You won’t want to use baking cups here because you’ll be chopping your cupcakes in half, which will waste your lovely baking cups.
Mix your cake mix with water, oil, and eggs plus any other ingredients indicated in the directions on your cake mix box. Pour your batter evenly into your muffin tins so that you fill all 24 wells with equal amounts of cake batter. Bake cupcakes for the time indicated on your cake mix box – mine took about 17 minutes.
Remove baked cupcakes from the oven and let cool. In the meantime, mix up your pudding filling by mixing your pudding mix with cold milk – my Jello boxed mix used 2 cups of cold (cow!) milk. You will probably have just enough pudding to put a generous helping in the middle of each cupcake using one box of pudding mix. As an aside, I tried to use almond milk in my first batch of instant pudding, and that did NOT work. As in, never became pudding despite my best efforts at stirring and chilling and being patient. So, to be safe, you should probably stick with dairy milk for your instant pudding mix, unless you find one somewhere that is specially formulated to work with non-dairy milk or something. Is that something that everyone else knows, but I somehow missed out on? That you have to use regular cow’s milk in instant pudding?
To make the ganache, combine 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 3/4 tbsp of light corn syrup in a small saucepan. Warm the mixture until just before it boils – tiny bubbles will appear around the edge of the pot. Don’t let the cream boil. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and pour it over the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Stir the mixture until the chocolate melts and the ganache looks smooth and shiny. Let the ganache cool slightly while assembling the cupcakes. If it gets too cool and begins to harden, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and then stir to warm it up.
To assemble the cupcakes, cut each cupcake in half horizontally. Place a tablespoon of pudding filling on the cut side of the bottom half of the cupcake and replace the top of the cupcake. It should now look like a cupcake pudding sandwich. Spoon about one tablespoon of ganache over the top of the filled cupcake, letting it drip down the sides. Make sure to dry the extra syrup off of the maraschino cherries, and place one on the top of each cupcake.
Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator for a half hour to set before serving.
Source: inspired by this recipe, which I will probably attempt to make from scratch at some point.
Budget Breakdown: $9.23 for 2 dozen cupcakes
- Yellow cake mix: $2.09
- Oil: $0.32
- Eggs: $0.42
- Instant pudding: $1.25
- Milk: $0.68
- Cream: $1.00
- Semisweet chocolate: $2.35
- Maraschino cherries: $1.12
While this might have been slightly less frugal than making it completely from scratch, I still declare it a frugally foodie success. It remains much less costly than buying gourmet cupcakes, which can for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.50-$3.00 each, and is even less costly than those 6 packs of cupcakes at the grocery store bakey, which go for between $4.00-$5.00 per package. Using this recipe, you’re getting a whole dozen of cupcakes for that price.
Also, because I took some shortcuts, I was able to whip these up pretty quickly for a special, last-minute birthday surprise that provided much more enjoyment than spending another 45 minutes or so making these from scratch. So there!