Want to add a little pizzazz to a box-mix dessert? Start with your favorite mix -- one regular or sugar-free two-layer-size cake mix OR one family-size brownie mix (a 19.5 to 26-ounce package). Then stir, swirl or sprinkle some adds-ins -- such as flavored syrup, a little spice or chocolate chips -- and you've got a whole new creation.
Click on the recipe link below for all our add-in ideas. For photos of some finished treats and a sampling of add-in ideas, click ahead.
A super-simple fix-up: Slice cupcakes into thirds or halves, fill with pudding, frost.
Sprinkle chocolate and peanut butter pieces on a brownie mix while it's still hot from the oven. This technique helps the pieces stick to the cake but still retain their shape.
Other sprinkles for hot cakes: coarsely chopped chocolate-covered raisins, chocolate-covered peanuts, candy bars or unwrapped caramels.
Pipe mini dollops of canned pink frosting (or white frosting tinted with red food coloring) over the top of a cupcake and sprinkle with edible glitter.
Fill slightly hollowed brownie cupcakes with a small spoon of gooey marshmallow cream and top with drizzles of melted chocolate chips.
Our brownies are covered with both marshmallow cream and pink frosting, topped by chopped maraschino cherries.
For a flavored cream: Beat together a jar of marshmallow cream and a quarter-cup orange marmalade, peanut butter or your favorite flavor of ice cream topping.
Frost a chocolate cupcake with canned chocolate frosting, then sprinkle on chopped candy bar and chopped chocolate bar.
Decorate a cupcake with white canned frosting tinted with orange food coloring. Snip a large marshmallow to form petals and dip in colored sugar. Add a gumdrop to the center.
Roll the edge of a pink-frosted cupcake in multicolor sprinkles.
Add shredded orange peel to whipped cream or whipped topping and spread between layers and on top of cake. Finish with toasted coconut and sliced kumquats.
Add animal crackers and candy-coated milk chocolate pieces to a just-frosted cupcake for instant kid appeal.
Other topper ideas for frosting: Broken peanut brittle, honey-roasted peanuts, toasted coconut, broken cookies, grated chocolate, chopped candy, miniature semisweet chocolate pieces or colored sprinkles.
Stir your choice of seasoning into basic box-mix batter. Try:
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ground ginger, apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice
• One-half teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper (for some heat)
• 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
Replace 1/4 cup of the water in the box mix with one of these:
• 1/4 cup coffee liqueur
• 1/4 cup melted ice cream
• 1/4 cup flavored coffee syrup
• 1/4 cup chocolate-flavored syrup
Just before you bake your cake, top the batter with ingredients such as:
• 1 cup dried cranberries, dried cherries or raisins
• 1 cup coarsely chopped smoked almonds or other nuts
• 1 cup flaked or shredded coconut (toast coconut, if you like)
Add flavor to canned frosting by folding in ingredients such as a quarter-cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces, 2 tablespoons chopped maraschino cherries or 2 teaspoons grated orange peel.