If I didn't know better, I'd swear that boxed cake mixes reproduce in the dark of night on the shelves of my pantry. One day I counted 18 boxes of cake mix!
Here's how that works: Cake mixes go on sale routinely. One week it will be Duncan Hines, and then Pillsbury takes its turn, and so on. The typical sale price for a cake mix is $1. I hold onto my cake mix coupons until that particular brand goes on sale. My 35-cent or 50-cent coupon cuts that sale price even further. Do the math. My goal is to never pay more than 50 cents for a cake mix, and when I can pull that off, I stock up.
There are so many other ways you can use a cake mix beyond making a cake — like making cookies and even waffles.
CAKE MIX COOKIES
1 (18.25 ounce) yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Dump cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in the oil and eggs until well blended. Mix in the chips (go ahead; use your clean hands). Drop dough by teaspoonfuls or roll into balls the size of walnuts, and place 2 inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten just a bit with your fingers. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove from pan to cool on wire racks. Yield: About 2 dozen 2-inch cookies.
Because there are so many different kinds of cake mixes (with pudding, with double pudding, extra moist and so on), you may need to make slight adjustments to this recipe. For example, I've found that with some varieties of cake mix, the dough is so stiff and dry it's not possible to form the cookies into balls. When this happens, I simply add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water until the dough is workable.
If you want to cut down on fat, try substituting 1/2 cup applesauce for the oil.
Variations: You can use just about any combination of cake mix and baking chips. Example: Carrot cake mix with white chocolate chips; chocolate cake mix with peanut butter chips; devil's-food cake mix with toffee bit chips; German chocolate cake mix with pecans and coconut; white cake mix with crushed pineapple (drained) and coconut.
By the way, if you need lots of cookies in a hurry, this recipe multiplies well. Just start with two cake mixes, and double the additions.
A tip on storing Cake Mix Cookies. Depending on the type of cake mix you use, these cookies may dry out after two days. To prevent this, store them in an airtight container with a piece of bread. I don't know why, but for some reason, this keeps the cookies as fresh and moist as can be.
CAKE MIX WAFFLES
1 box cake mix (any flavor)
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Heat waffle maker, and brush with oil or cooking spray. Make cake batter as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. For each waffle, pour batter onto center of hot waffle maker. Close lid, and bake 3 to 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle. Serve waffles warm or cold with toppings of your choice.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments, and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living.
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