The Gourmet Touch: Beautiful dessert with ugly name
Feb 11, 2014 | 3493 views |  0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Good intentions can only be considered worthwhile when you put them into action.

For a long time, I have intended to file or throw away all those loose recipes that have been in boxes for years. Even if I don't get it done any time soon, it is fun to look through them and find recipes that I had thought were lost.

Recently, I was trying to decide on a dessert to take to a ladies' meeting at church. I changed my mind several times. Should I make a peanut butter cake or maybe a Butterfinger cake? No. People had made those at other church events not so long ago.

It was only when I saw a can of fruit cocktail on the grocery shelf that I remembered a delicious cake recipe that a friend shared with me more than 25 years ago. Where is that recipe? Could it be in one of those many boxes that I had pushed aside to be filed later?

I didn't find it, but found a similar recipe and made a few changes. A couple of days later I found the original recipe for Ugly Duckling Cake on the computer files that contain my past articles. I found that I had shared it a few years ago. This new version is a little different and was so well-received that I wanted to share it also.

It is made with a cake mix and even those who prefer from-scratch cakes don't seem to complain about this one. One thing I did notice is that the recipe called for an 18.25 ounce box of cake mix. Have you noticed the ounces on the cake mix box lately? Most of them are between 15 and 16 ounces.

I didn't know whether or not this difference in ounces would affect the finished product, and when I made it, I couldn't detect any major differences. The texture is very delicate, though, which could be a result of less cake mix.

When cut, it might want to crumble a little but this doesn't bother me at all. It is so good that I just press my fork into those soft crumbs and continue to enjoy this moist and delicious treat. This would be a great dessert to serve to that special person on Valentine's Day. I feel sure that after that first bite, the ugly duckling will become a beautiful swan because of the delightful flavor and texture.

By the way, I could never understand the name "ugly duckling" because it really isn't ugly … maybe a little simple, but not ugly. For that reason, I decided to call the following version simply Fruit Cocktail Cake.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 can (about 16 ounces) fruit cocktail (do not drain)
1/2 cup coconut (not fresh or frozen)
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
2 eggs
1/2 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar


1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk or cream
1/2 cup coconut (not fresh or frozen)

Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease or spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan on bottom only. Combine the cake mix, undrained fruit cocktail, coconut, 1/2 cup chopped pecans and eggs. Beat at low speed just until ingredients are moistened. Increase speed and beat on medium for about 2 minutes. Pour into pan. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup pecans with the brown sugar. Mix well and sprinkle over top of uncooked batter. Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside while making glaze.

Glaze: Combine butter, sugar and milk in small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil (a boil that can't be stirred down) and then reduce heat to medium. Cook for 1 minute. Spoon over top of warm cake. Sprinkle coconut over top.

Email Prudence Hilburn at
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