When someone thinks of a "summer dessert," most likely cake does not come to their mind. Usually, sweet treats in the scorching hot summer months include ice cream, Popsicles, sno cones and the occasional milkshake. Cakes are covered in frosting, be it chocolate, strawberry, vanilla or cream cheese, and that's not exactly the best solution for a sweet tooth in search of something refreshing. Usually the glass of milk accompanying each bite does that trick.
But, what if the cake had oranges and pineapple? And the heavy frosting was replaced with a light and airy whipped topping?
That's what we call a summer dessert.
There are several variations for this mandarin orange cake, but if you want to stick to a simple straightforward dessert, then follow the instructions from All Recipes. If you're craving something a bit different, we will offer some suggestions at the end.
Start by greasing and flouring a 9 x 13-inch cake pan, then preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine one package of yellow cake mix with four eggs, one cup of vegetable oil and an 11-ounce can of mandarin orange segments. The Pillsbury yellow cake mix includes pudding in the mixture, so your cake will be extra moist. Pour in all of the juice from the can of mandarin oranges, too; combined with the eggs and oil, it makes a perfect consistency for the cake batter.
Beat all of the ingredients together until everything is incorporated. Don't worry about pulverizing the mandarin orange segments; you want them to break into tiny pieces so each bite is filled with specks of citrus.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Check the cake at 30 minutes, though, because it browns quickly. After you let it cool completely, it's time to make the whipped topping.
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Combine one 8-ounce container of thawed frozen whipped topping with one 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple (don't forget the juice!) and one 3.5-ounce package of instant vanilla pudding mix. Yes, pudding mix. When you beat the ingredients together, the vanilla powder blends with the whipped topping, making it fluffier and creamier, almost like pudding. You'll be so tempted to eat this by the spoonful, but don't eat too much because you need enough to cover the entire cake.
The sweetness doesn't come from the cake, it comes from the topping. The sugary pineapples blended in the creamy Cool Whip and vanilla pudding are like a dessert on their own, but with the bite of moist citrus cake, it's all complete.
Once you cover the entire cake, stick it in the fridge to chill. It's perfect for a picnic dessert, as an after BBQ dinner treat, or just because you want something sweet and refreshing to eat. You can keep it in the freezer to save for a longer period of time.
If you're crazy about the orange flavor, then use orange cake mix, such as Duncan Hines Signature Orange Supreme Cake Mix, with a splash of orange extract or opt for a pineapple cake mix if you enjoy the taste of the whipped topping more. Try adding coconut shavings to the topping to complement the pineapple. You can even turn this sheet cake into a layered cake.