Cake Week Thursday: retro faux-fruitcake?

Erica at Retro Recipe Attempts has gone where no woman or man has gone since at least 1972:  No-Bake Festive Fruit Cake! Even back in the day, this seems like one of those recipes that people make once, and then hope everyone else politely refrains from mentioning it ever again.

Srsly, it’s like a time machine to all of those church potluck suppers I attended back in the 1970s as a child.  I swear, every single one of those hot (or cold) dishes featured either one or more of the following ingredients:  1) evaporated milk, 2) sweetened condensed milk, 3) graham crackers, 4) marischino cherries, and/or 5) Jell-o.  (And that included the main-course dishes, too.)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a palatable and festive dessert with as many of the same ingredients as you can use, instead of mashing everything up into a weird ball of dough the way this recipe calls for.  Here’s your shopping list:

  • PET Evaporated Milk
  • marshmallows
  • orange juice or alcoholic flavoring (like Grand Marnier?)
  • graham crackers
  • raisins
  • dates
  • walnuts
  • candied fruit

Me, I’d recommend doing a kid-friendly Christmas dessert by making s’mores by baking the marshmallows on top of the graham crackers and inviting guests to DIY with the dried and candied fruit and the walnuts, throwing out the PET milk and substituting a slice from one of those chocolate oranges or apples that you get in your Christmas stocking.  Hey, that doesn’t sound too darn bad!  Maybe I’ll try it the next time I’m snowed in with all of the ingredients for a real fruitcake, plus marshmallows and graham crackers, and we’ve eaten all of the Christmas cookies and cakes and we’re still jonesing for another sweetie.


21 thoughts on “Cake Week Thursday: retro faux-fruitcake?

  1. You’re forgetting Cool Whip and Miracle Whip and all sorts of Kraft-engineered food-substitutes. Autistic youngest loves cookbooks and we spend time pouring over shelves of horrific 60s and 70s such as “Fun with Jello” or “Happening Holidays 1973!” collections.

    Sad confession: I still prefer macaroni and cheese made with Cheez Whiz to the real thing!


  2. Janice: I’ve heard Martha Stewart confess that she loves Velveeta, which is basically whiz in a brick, and does melt down nicely for mac & cheese. (At least I think it was Stewart: I hope I haven’t libeled her!)

    And yes: I *did* forget the Cool Whip and the Miracle Whip!


  3. Never understood the presumed magic of no-bake cakes. Of course, nature takes care of these quite nicely. Famous natural cakes: orange, apple, banana, etc.


  4. Why go through all that work when you can buy a hostess fruitcake? No baking! Heck no mixing or measuring required!

    I imagine that the hostess fruitcakes are shelf-stable (like Twinkies) and they should be in plentiful supply despite the recent bankruptcy.

    (Sure enough only $9.88 over at only five left!)


  5. Re: Martha Stewart interview, yes, that was the other week’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me– the same show that has prevented me from opening the pomegranate my sister brought at Thanksgiving for fear of doing it wrong.


  6. Melted marshmallow thinned with the condensed milk and butter (think rice krispie treat or wreath cookies) coarse crush half and powder the the other half of the Graham crackers and wet with the milk and or liqueur as well. Add a heat activated leavener (like peanut brittle) and fold in the goo at a much lower ratio than for the treats or cookies along with the gubbins and pop into the oven.


  7. I was going in the direction of a pie with a graham cracker crust. Make a custard with the evaporated milk, cointreau and eggs (off the list, but…); add raisins, dates, and walnuts. If you insist on walnuts, they would be a topping. Except marshmallows are one food I will not eat. Never would. So if I had my druthers, I’d omit them.

    Also, we haven’t mentioned the ritz cracker “apple” pie, which I have never tasted but imagine was awful.

    And to end the nasty cracks about fruitcake, H’ann will receive my fruitcake this year. Harumph.

    Nicoleandmaggie, Martha Stewart’s method of dealing with pomegranates is not, I gather the easiest: cutting in half, putting in water and washing the arils out. You don’t get coated in pomegranate juice.


  8. One my aforementioned grandmothers made a dessert that turned out decently with graham crackers, instant pudding (counts for Jello, in my book), chocolate chips, Cool Whip, margarine, and corn syrup. It was a chocolate eclair dessert. Much better than those horrifying “pink salad” confections that we were served with every major family meal (Jello-and-marshmallow-with-savories).


  9. My mom made that too, Perpetua: Chocolate Eclair dessert, which was made with vanilla pudding mixed with Cool Whip, interleaved with layers of graham crackers. The top layer of graham crackers was frosted with chocolate frosting out of a can, and then the whole pan was left to sit for half a day or so before serving. Pretty good stuff!


  10. Pingback: Cake! Because Christmas. : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

  11. Pingback: Cake! Because Christmas. | Historiann

  12. Make a graham cracker crust, melt the marshmallows and mix the evaporated milk and Grand Marnier in, and once somewhat cooled mix in the fruits and nuts and pour into the pie crust. 😉


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