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Top-Secret Chocolate Cake

Ed Anderson
Cook Time:
40 mins
Prep Time:
15 mins


  • baking spray
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (15.2-ounce) box dark chocolate cake mix, such as Duncan Hines
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Ganache and Topping
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • assorted rainbow sprinkles

Chef notes

As a middle-aged woman of the world, it is no secret to me that you can doctor up boxed cake mix to create a heavenly dessert. This trend took hold in the nineties and it gave masses of people permission to forgo the measuring and mess of a from-scratch cake. But just in case your generation hid this eternal cake mix truth from you your whole life, I'm here to lift the veil.

This is an incredibly simple way to ease into the cake-mix era in your life: a rich, very chocolaty cake that's such a cinch to make, it might become your go-to birthday cake request.

Technique tip: You can double the ganache if you'd like a thicker coating on the cake. Bake the cake in a 9- by 13-inch pan if you'd like square slices!

Swap options: Top with crushed candy bars (such as Heath Bars, Snickers and so on) instead of sprinkles. Substitute bittersweet chocolate chips for semisweet for a deep chocolaty flavor.


For the cake:


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mist a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray.


In a bowl or large pitcher, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add the cake mix and — this is important — feel no guilt or shame. Stir until combined, then add the vanilla, the melted butter and the chocolate chips, and stir again. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.


Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let the cake cool completely, then invert it onto a pretty plate or stand.

For the ganache and topping:

In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium-low heat. Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over them. Let sit for 3 minutes then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, until the ganache is smooth and glossy.

Slowly pour the ganache over the cooled cake, making sure to get it on the inside and outside (extra ganache can be refrigerated and reheated for another use). Before the ganache sets, add plenty of sprinkles!