December
13th 2012
Cake Week Thursday: retro faux-fruitcake?

Posted under: American history, childhood, fluff, weirdness

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.

Maybe.

19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Cake Week Thursday: retro faux-fruitcake?”

  1. Janice on 13 Dec 2012 at 10:52 am #

    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. Bardiac on 13 Dec 2012 at 10:52 am #

    As long as there’s something alcoholic, s’mores and dried fruit and such seem like a great snack! Heck, who cares about the snack part?

  3. Historiann on 13 Dec 2012 at 10:58 am #

    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!

  4. koshembos on 13 Dec 2012 at 11:32 am #

    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.

  5. Matt_L on 13 Dec 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    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 Amazon.com only five left!)

  6. cgeye on 13 Dec 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    y’know the queso dip made from Velveeta and a can Ro*tel tomatoes and chilies? Add pasta, and a very nice mac n’ cheese results.

  7. Western Dave on 13 Dec 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    H’ann,
    You are correct on Martha Stewart and Velveeta, but you have libeled sweetend condensed milk.

  8. truffula on 13 Dec 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey and Assumption Abbey are all you really need to know on the fruitcake front. The monks at Our Lady of Guadalupe also do book binding (including my dissertation), forestry, sell honey, wine shipping, all sorts of enterprises.

    The best plan for that evaporated milk is to turn it into dulce de leche, I bet.

  9. nicoleandmaggie on 13 Dec 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    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.

  10. Comradde PhysioProffe on 13 Dec 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Sounds fucken narshty! As far as orange liqueurs, I have always been partial to Cointreau.

  11. Fratguy on 13 Dec 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    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.

  12. Historiann on 13 Dec 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    What the hell would that be, exactly? (Other than a mess that someone NOT ME would have to clean out of the pan, thankyewverymuch?) Graham cracker brittle?

    My s’mores idea was better.

  13. Susan on 13 Dec 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    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.

  14. Susan on 13 Dec 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    Oops, typo: if you insist on marshmallows they would be a topping, sort of like a meringue.

  15. Perpetua on 14 Dec 2012 at 6:06 am #

    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).

  16. Historiann on 14 Dec 2012 at 7:53 am #

    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!

  17. Historiann on 14 Dec 2012 at 8:25 am #

    And Susan: I love fruitcake! I’d be thrilled to try yours. Good fruitcake is really good, but there is nothing worse than bad fruitcake.

  18. Dr. Koshary on 14 Dec 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Blech. That is all.

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