Two easy springtime desserts

J. H. Osborne • Apr 10, 2020 at 3:00 PM

I knew I loved food early in life. While still a preschooler I would tug Mom’s sleeve or motion her to come close so I could whisper “Uh, get the recipe for this” when we were guests for a meal of this or that relative, and even more likely during church dinners on the grounds. I mentioned my love of cookbooks a few columns back, and also my particular fondness for cookbooks compiled by churches. Church ladies (and a few gents) know how to cook.

As this Easter has approached, under these unique times, I’ve thought about what foods I associate with Easter. Easter sometimes coincides with the annual memorial service and dinner at West View Primitive Baptist Church, where I went in my youth and where Mom is still a member. It would have been memorial service and dinner time at West View this Easter Sunday. But like most churches the decision was made to postpone services for the duration of this time we are in. That meant also postponing the memorial service and dinner. Mom and I had been planning weeks ago what we’d take this year.

I have three standard Easter desserts: Banana Split Cake; Blueberry Jell-O Salad (need some quote marks around that “salad”); and coconut cake.

The first two were church dinner staples in the late 1960s and early 1970s and are not at all rare today. I didn’t learn about the “poke variety” of coconut cake until a few years ago and don’t remember where I first tasted it. I had hoped to make a Banana Split Cake (which really isn’t a cake at all, and some cookbooks classify it as “Banana Split Dessert”) for Mom and I to enjoy this weekend. But I don’t have quite all the components, I’m trying to avoid trips to the grocery store ... and, well, to be authentic it’s made with raw eggs (beaten with butter and sugar for 20 minutes nonstop). I’m still daring enough to make it using pasteurized egg substitute, but most people avoid use of raw eggs and make it with pudding. I hate it with pudding.

I have, however, already made a “Blueberry Salad.” It is one of the oldest favorites on my favorites list, dating to those preschooler days when I’d whisper to Mom to “get that recipe.” During my childhood it was a regular dish brought to church dinners. Mom is nearly 100 percent sure it was brought then by Mrs. Stella (John Henry) Sybert, the pastor’s wife. Their son, Elder Burnice Sybert is pastor today. It remains a favorite of mine and Mom says it is just about her favorite desert. It’s easy to make. And like the coconut cake, it is easy to keep the ingredients on hand. I’m sharing here the recipes as I’ve prepared them for several years.

Blueberry Salad

Drain the juice from a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple (I use Dole) into a measuring cup, then add enough water to total two cups of liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and stir in two small boxes of blackberry gelatin (if I can’t find blackberry, I’ve used raspberry, “Berry Fusion,” and black cherry) until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in drained pineapple and one can of blueberry pie filling. Pour mixture into a casserole dish (the larger the dish, the thinner the “salad,” so don’t go too large). Refrigerate until set. “Frost” with a mixture of: one 8 ounce block of cream cheese (softened), one cup of sour cream, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top (optional). Keep refrigerated.

Coconut Cake

Prepare one Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix according to directions on box and bake in a 13” by 9” pan. While the cake is baking, place a 15 ounce can of Coco Lopez Real Cream of Coconut (unopened) in a bowl of warm water. As soon as you take the cake from the oven, poke holes in the cake at about one-inch intervals and immediately pour one can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk over the cake, allowing to seep into the holes you poked. Remove the Coco Lopez from the bowl of water and shake the can vigorously. Open it and pour it over the cake. Sprinkle cake with contents of a 14 ounce package of Baker’s coconut. Allow cake and toppings to cool. Frost with one tub of Cool Whip. Keep refrigerated.

Happy Easter.

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