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Wednesday
Jan202010

What a Fruitcake: A Retro Graham Cracker Marshmallow Fruitcake, Circa 1950

When it comes to cakes, sometimes the line between awesome and awful can be very fine. 

And then sometimes they race right past the line into awful and never look back. Hey, that is what the delectably snarky Cake Wrecks is built on, isn't it?

That having been said, it's time to talk about the Graham Cracker Fruit Cake

Apparently there was, at one time in the 1950s or 60s, a back-of-the-box sort of graham cracker fruitcake recipe. When a reader recently asked me to help unearth it, I found a few different versions online. But when it came to testing it out, I'll be honest--I went for the one that sounded easiest, consisting of just a few ingredients: marshmallows, milk, graham crackers, maraschino cherries, and pecans.

While it wasn't evidently a wreck from the get-go, it definitely did seem to fall into the category of retro-kitchy desserts that jiggle that perhaps dropped in popularity for a reason. Unfortunately the "fail" signs became highly evident when it was removed from the pan--not only was the jiggle unsettling, but so was the hue which could best be described as "fleshy":

When served at a dinner party, the reactions were polite-- along the lines of "it's not as bad as I thought it would be" or "it's...interesting". But the fact is that it was hard to get past the fleshy tone and jiggling texture--it remained largely uneaten.

Now, I'm not ready to throw in the hat completely on this one--while I realize the recipe chosen wasn't the best, that doesn't mean that there isn't a delicious version out there (and if you've got one, feel free to send it along).

But if you're feeling lucky (or just want to know what to avoid) here's the recipe:

Graham Cracker Ice Box Fruit Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pkg. graham crackers
  • 3 c. pecans (broken into small pieces)
  • 1 / 2 lb maraschino cherries
  • 1 lb. pkg. miniature marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 c. milk

Procedure

  1. Crush graham crackers. Mix with pecans and cherries.
  2. Melt about half of the marshmallows in milk over low heat. Allow mixture to cool.
  3. Stir in crackers, cherries and pecans; mix. Add other half of marshmallows and mix lightly. Pour into an extremely well-greased cake pan (I used a bundt pan) and press firmly.
  4. Refrigerate 4-6 hours. Using a sharp knife, gently ease the cake from the sides of the pan. It should be sort of malleable so you'll be able to feel when it has pulled away from the sides to the point that you can safely flip it. First, turn the plate upside down on top of the bottom of the pan, and then swiftly and confidently flip the whole operation. If the confection comes out perfectly, bask in a moment of well-deserved glory--if it tears and fails massively, don't fret--I've still got plenty of leftovers.

 

Reader Comments (10)

wow. i was confused at first because i thought there was no gelatin, but i see now that you melt the marshmallows... that's completely absurd.

January 20 | Unregistered Commenterautumn

seems like the perfect thing, then, to make maybe in a hand mold at halloween. you know, when fleshy is gooooood.

January 20 | Unregistered Commenterannie b

WOH!!! that looks bizarre!!! it's kind of reminding me of what happened to david bowie in "the hunger" when he started getting old.

but i would totally eat it!!! (i will try anything). i bet if you sliced it up, put a dollop of whipped cream and a nice shiny maraschino cherry on top, and put it in like a fancy sundae glass, it would taste better!!

January 20 | Unregistered Commenterlyndsay

Check out Lilek's Regrettable Food book! You wont regret it...well...y'know.

January 20 | Unregistered CommenterKai

Why would someone ask you to unearth such a recipe? It looks very...er...um...intestinal. Glarf.

I love retro desserts(mostly in concept) !My favorite one is a jello strawberry salad with a pretzel crust on the bottom, and a cream cheese layer. It had the sweet and salty thing going on even back then. It was delicious. I used to have a book by Jane and Michael Stern called "Road Food," I think. It had a jello recipe called undescended Twinkies. Never actually made the recipe, but loved the name.

January 21 | Unregistered Commenterjoan

I imagine that is what my skin will look like in 40 or so years - when the tattoos have all run together. That doesn't make it sound any more appealing... Nevertheless I'm sad this was a fail because sometimes cakes made of nonsense and magic are the greatest cakes of all.

January 21 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

I was excited to see a cake failure on your flickr stream. Outside of cake wrecks (and my own kitchen) I don't see too many baking mishaps. It doesn't look like it would jiggle... *cringe* This recipe is silly and I can see why you tried it. If it were delish - you would have hit the lottery.

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie Rue

What about adding some food coloring (pink seems appropriate) to get rid of the fleshtone? I bet that would make it a lot more palatable so you could actually enjoy the flavor (which was not commented on...).

January 22 | Unregistered Commenterellobie

This relic of the past brought back to life, was served at my dinner party, and it's still in our alternate fridge, unchanged in form. The flavor of the beast is a sickly sweet mixed with a hint of said graham cracker, with a bitter pecan aftertaste mingling or fighting the taint of cherries that have become otherworldly, or maraschinoised. It has this firm foam texture that is unexpected to the mouth and yes, the color is as shown in the pics, a diseased flesh, which is cool and creepy all at once.
High five to Jessie for taking this on unflinchingly.

January 25 | Unregistered CommenterNick the Hat

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