I find that a quick way to lots of compliments is to make a cake from a box but make the frosting from scratch.  The box cake is easy to make and the made from scratch frosting delivers most of the flavor and the compliments.  So few people make home made frosting anymore so this goes over very well. Here are the ingredients for my Mom’s recipe for scratch chocolate frosting: 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature 3/8 teaspoons salt 3/4 cup cocoa 1/2 cup milk 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla 5 1/4  cups confection sugar Cream together the soft (room temperature) butter, salt, and vanilla.  I use a mixer but you can do this by hand.  Add the cocoa and mix well.  You can use a rubber spatula to smear the mixture against the bowl to remove any lumps now; if you wait until the other ingredients are added it will be impossible to remove the lumps.  Add a little of the milk now if this mixture is too hard to handle. Once the lumps are out, then gradually add portions of the confection sugar and blend it in.  Add a little of the milk as you go to keep the mixture workable.  I usually add in the sugar in about 3 portions.  Keep adding just a little of the milk at a time but keep the frosting a little on the dry side until you have added all of the sugar.  Then when all the sugar is in, adjust the smoothness of the frosting with the remaining milk to get frosting that will spread easily, but not run down the sides of the cake. For me, it is hard to figure how dry or wet to make the frosting.  I have a hard time figuring out how much milk to put in it.  Sometimes it comes out dry and sometimes runny.  Maybe it’s because I use 1% milk, so you can try whole milk or a little cream added.  Anyway, the idea is to add the milk gradually because once you add too much you can’t take it out.  And if you do make it too runny, you can add a shake or two more of cocoa and sugar.  You want to make it runny enough to spread but not too runny that it will slide down the sides of a layer cake. Spread the frosting on a cake that has cooled.  I am not a big kitchen gadget fan, but one worthwhile investment you can make is a special frosting knife.  A cheap one will do.  They have a special wide blade and a rounded tip that make spreading frosting so much easier. The sweet & chocolate flavor of this made from this scratch frosting is outrageous and much better than from a bakery or from a can.
Chocolate Frosting from Scratch
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