I received a spur-of-the-moment dinner invitation recently. I asked if my hostess wanted me to bring along a dessert. She was grateful for the offer and said that anything I wanted to bring would be great.
I checked my pantry thinking I had the basic ingredients to put together a quick dessert. The cupboard was almost bare. I’d just given a dinner party, and evidently, I’d forgotten to re-stock many of my go-to dessert components.
That’s the beauty of a cake mix.
You can open up a package of cake mix and turn it into almost anything. You can also find fabulous gluten-free cake mixes from Vitacost.com. Since many of my relatives and friends are gluten-intolerant, I try to keep gluten-free products on hand.
I’ve used the same vanilla or chocolate cake mix to make everything from a quick crust for a fruit dessert to a pan of brownies by making a few changes to the basic recipe. I’ve even used recipes from the back of the package when I was at a lost for inspiration.
This recipe for Quick Chocolate Caramel Toffee Cake is a great “open in case of emergencies” dessert. Best of all, it’s easy but looks elegant. You can also substitute your favorite type of cake mix or toppings. Now that I’ve used my last package of cake mix, I need to go online and re-stock my pantry!
QUICK CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TOFFEE CAKE
1 Gluten-Free Pantry Decadent Chocolate Cake mix (plus butter, yogurt or buttermilk, vanilla and 2 eggs, as called for on cake mix package)
1 can (14 oz.) Santini Organic Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 jar (16 to 17 oz.) caramel, butterscotch or fudge topping
1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup crushed chocolate chip cookies (use or save the crumbs in the bottom of the bag for this purpose)
1 bag (8 oz.) toffee chips or chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts
Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Bake cake as directed on package for 13×9-inch pan.
Poke top of warm cake every 1/2 inch with handle of wooden spoon or skewer. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over top of cake. Shake pan and let the cake stand until the milk has been absorbed into the cake. Drizzle with the caramel topping. Run a knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.
Spread whipped topping over top of cake. Sprinkle with crushed cookies, toffee chips, nuts or crushed toppings of your choice. Store covered in refrigerator.
The cake may stick to the wooden spoon handle while you’re using it to make the holes, so spray with cooking oil spray and occasionally wipe off the handle.
The caramel topping will be easier to drizzle if it has been kept at room temperature. If refrigerated, remove the lid and microwave on High about 10 to 15 seconds.
The Kitchen Diva is Angela Shelf Medearis, a regular guest chef on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Today Show.” She is the author of many cookbooks, including, “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” She writes “The Kitchen Diva” blog for Vitacost.com on a weekly basis.