Thursday, June 4, 2015

Great Grandma's Mandarin Cake

A couple of weeks ago, my mom, sister and I set out on an adventure to visit my grandma and great grandma in New Mexico. It was kind of a last minute trip, but I was so excited to go - not only because school was done for the semester, but to see family who I had not seen in over 15 years. Ya, I know that's bad and far too long to not see your grandma or great grandma. Nevertheless, the trip was just a few short days, but we got lots of family time in, took lots of pictures and saw a lot of long roads in New Mexico - it was a three and half hour drive to where they lived from the Albuquerque airport! 

Besides hearing all the great stories my great grandma told us, I knew I had to ask her - what is your favorite dessert. I knew she love (and I mean LOVES ice cream), but I knew there had to be something else. As soon as I asked her, she stated without hesitation, mandarin cake! I had no idea what in the world that was. Of course I could guess. A cake with mandarins, right? Well, I was partially right. Great grandma didn't have a recipe, but she knew exactly what was in it. I looked it up on my phone, because that's how I look up everything these days, and bam. There is was. Mandarin cake. Just how she described it and all of the ingredients she mentioned. Darn is she good. And boy was she shocked on how I could find it in just a few seconds. Thank you iPhone.

Now, I am about to tell you all about this recipe and how to make it. Be warned - it comes from boxes and cans. I was kind of against it at first, considering how I like to make things from scratch, but I knew I couldn't fight it. I had to make it the same way great grandma had made it. Here is what you'll need:

1. One box of yellow cake mix

2. Eggs and oil
3. A can of mandarin oranges
4. A can of crushed pineapple
5. A large container of Cool Whip
6. One box instant (must be instant!) vanilla pudding

See what I mean by the ingredients. Boxes and cans. But, I guess that's how they did it in the 50's! The best part about this cake (besides it tasting so good!) it's literally dump and go. Seriously! You mix the yellow cake mix, eggs, oil and whole can of mandarins (juice and all - no draining here). At this point, you can make it easy on yourself and just pour in to a 9x13 pan or, if you want to get fancy, into two 9 inch cake rounds. No matter how you bake it, the cake will be just as delicious. Once the cake is baked and cooled, you then whip up the "frosting". You dump the can of crushed pineapple (juice and all!) into a bowl and then mix in the vanilla pudding. The most important part here is that you must let it sit for at least five minutes. This will allow the pudding and pineapple juices to do their thing. AKA thicken up. If you leave it for a little longer, that is fine too. Once you've let it sit for about five minutes, then fold in the cool whip. Just make sure the cool whip is soft and has defrosted in the fridge. You can not mix it all in smoothly if it's still frozen. Just a heads up. The "frosting" will be a bit soft and loose, but don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. That's how it should be! If you are frosting a 9x13 pan, just spread it all on over the top. If you are frosting the two rounds, put some in the middle, top with the other round and then cover the whole thing up with the rest. There may be extra frosting left over, but that's okay. you don't have to use it all. And if there is extra, it goes really well as a dip for nilla wafers or graham crackers. I did not just tell you that.

The only hard part about this cake is the waiting. Once you've frosted it, the cake must go to the fridge to chill and firm up for at least two hours or overnight. I say overnight is best, but if you want to dig in after two hours, by all mean, you go for it. This cake is so simple to make and everyone (and I mean everyone) has raved about it. I've made it two times in the past week and people go crazy for it. It's light, slightly fruity and so delicious. Next time you are looking for a quick and easy cake or something to bring to that summer get together, keep this cake in mind. You won't regret it and your friends and family will love you for it!

Mandarin Cake (the one, the only, Great Grandma)

10 oz box of yellow cake mix
11 oz can mandarin oranges, with juice 
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
16 oz container of frozen whipped topping, such as Cool Whip
20 oz can crushed pineapple, with juice
3.4 oz box of instant vanilla pudding (not cook and serve!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Great and flour (or use non-stick spray!) two 9 inch cake pans or one 9x13 baking pan. In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, mandarin oranges (and juice, don't drain!), eggs and oil. Mix well for two minutes and then pour in to your desired baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. If using 9 inch cake pans, cool for five minutes and then turn out cakes on a cooling rack. If using a 9x13 pan, let cake fully cool in pan.

While the cake is cooling, mix the canned pineapple (juice and all!) and vanilla pudding mix. Let the mixture sit for five minutes to allow it all to thicken up. After five minutes, gently fold in the whipped topping. Just make sure it's defrosted so it's easy to mix in. You'll have too many lumps if you try to fold it in frozen. Once the frosting is ready, frost the cake as desired. Once the cake is frosted, place it in the fridge for at least two hours, or even better overnight, to firm up and let the flavors combine. Enjoy!

I am willing to bet that this cake will become a summer favorite!

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