Get Your Boxed Cake Mix Holiday-Ready With Just A Few Spices

The holidays are a busy time of year that doesn't always leave you with enough hours on your hands to spend in the kitchen, painstakingly making desserts from scratch for the dinner table. That's where boxed cake mixes can come in handy, providing a fast (and, let's face it, still delicious) solution. You can even give packaged cake mixes a festive holiday twist with a little trick: adding a couple of spices to your batter.

Not only do certain spices make your cake taste like the winter season, but they also give off a delicious aroma that fills your home. In order to really get this hack down, you've got to decide what type of cake mix and spices you want to pair up. Once you've added the spices to your batter and baked the cake, you can take things one step further and up the holiday vibes even more, depending on what kind of frosting and garnishes you decorate your cake with.

What to think about when adding spices to cake mix

The first thing to think about is what kind of cake mix you'll use. A white or yellow cake mix can be a good, neutral choice if you want to really focus on the flavors of the spices. However, you could also try experimenting with more strongly-flavored boxed cake mixes. Orange, for instance, can bring out citrusy flavors that are associated with the winter season, while chocolate pairs well with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to remind you of cups of spiced hot cocoa at this time of year.

Once you've selected your cake mix, it's time to get down to the spices. There are many different winter-associated spices out there, and each will add a different touch to your cake. Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg are a couple of classic winter spices to use, but you can also try adding anise, ginger, or cardamom for a slightly more unique flavor profile. Or, if you just want something quick and easy, you could go for a pre-made spice blend such as apple pie spice. 

Frosting and pairings for your dessert

Once you've baked your spice cake, it's time to think about how to frost and decorate it. One easy way to really play up the spices in the cake is to add a bit of them to your frosting as well, whether you're going for a traditional American buttercream or a tangy cream cheese icing. Another way to infuse cozy flavors into a butter-based frosting is to make it with brown butter. The browned flavors pair well with the warm, spicy taste of the cake.

Besides the frosting, you can also add fillings to your dessert. A cranberry filling can give it a wintery, fruity feel while adding a festive hint of lemon or orange, if you include citrus in the berry sauce. Or, you can add a caramel filling to go for a sugary and sweet taste. Finish the whole cake off with a garnish, whether it's chopped nuts, a sprinkle of nutmeg, a whole cinnamon stick, or something else that looks enticing and dinner table-worthy. With these tips, you've now got all the tricks you need to transform a standard boxed cake mix into a tasty and beautiful holiday dessert.