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Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

Easy vintage fruit cocktail cake that will wow your guests – Honest!

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Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

I am always looking for a “different” type of dessert to share with guests. This one isn’t new. In fact it is quite old. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake with a crunchy topping of brown sugar and nuts. Now, before you say, “Eww, that’s just weird,” trust me, it is delicious. And easy to make. A big success in my book!

The date on the recipe card is 1954, but I know the recipe itself is much older.

When my mom passed away many years ago, I inherited her old recipes, and this one, given to her by my aunt, Myrtle Duncan, has always been one of my favorites. Hence the name of the recipe – Duncan’s Dessert, which is what it has been called since way before I was born. My aunt was born in 1900. She always had elegant desserts when she had company over, even when it was her brother, sister-in-law, and 6 kids! A couple of fun facts about her are that she was the first person to teach kindergarten in her town of Findlay, Ohio, and she lived to be 99 years old. She was a delightful person and so was her husband, who was a school principal.

Incidentally, here is a school photo of my Aunt Myrtle, as kindergarten teacher.  It doesn’t have a date, but I am guessing it was taken around the time she wrote out this recipe, in the mid 50s.

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

My aunt, Myrtle Duncan, circa 1954.

Anyway, I really hope you enjoy Duncan’s Dessert. My favorite part about seeing the recipe card is that it calls for a 15¢ can of fruit cocktail (!), which I discovered is a medium-sized can – about 15 oz.

Here is what my well-used recipe card looks like:

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

Recipe for Duncan’s Dessert, written on September 4, 1954

Duncan’s Dessert (Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake)

*This post includes some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to see my full disclosure policy.

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of white flour
a level tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
1 well-beaten egg
1 15 oz can fruit cocktail with juice  (let me know if you find one for 15¢!) 😉
1/4 stick (2 tbsp) butter, melted

Topping:
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/2 cup of brown sugar

And here are the directions:

First, grease an 8×8 pan. I use the stick of butter still in its wrapper to grease the pan. No messy hands!

Quick tip on how to grease a pan - use a stick of butter still in its wrapper. No messy fingers!

Mix together the white sugar, flour, soda, and salt. Stir in the egg and melted butter.

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

Then stir in the fruit cocktail and its juice.

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

Next, pour batter into greased 8×8 pan.

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

For the topping, mix together the brown sugar and pecans. Spoon topping evenly over the cake batter.

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes. It should be brown and crunchy on the top.

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.

Finally, serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake – PRINTABLE RECIPE 

Wow your guests with this decadent yet easy vintage dessert. A deliciously moist fruit cocktail cake topped with a crunchy mixture of brown sugar and nuts.Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake

How to serve your fruit cocktail cake.

*My aunt always got her ice cream from the local ice cream/candy shop in Findlay, Ohio called Dietsch’s. It’s still there, and since we live in Florida, we make sure to stop there when traveling back up north.  My kids love visiting Dietsch’s as much as I did as kid. 🙂

Alas, I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream on hand, and it was a bit far to go to Ohio from Florida, so we used whipped cream, which was just as yummy.  And, as a bonus, I used one of my Aunt Myrtle’s dishes to serve up her fruit cocktail cake in the picture above. 🙂

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Do you use old family recipes, too?  What are your favorites?

~ Pam

P.S. Looking for other yummy desserts? Fill out the form below to get a downloadable copy of recipes for my 10 favorite easy desserts!


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Author: Pam Hoepner

Hi I'm Pam, a seasoned homemaker with a husband, 3 teenagers, and a houseful of pets. I'm also a librarian and professional organizer (The Economical Organizer) who loves to share my hard-earned homemaking, DIY and organizing skills with others so you too can have a Life, Creatively Organized.

12 Comments

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  4. I made this dessert for Dad’s birthday last night, and he loved it! Everyone was curious about the fruit cocktail ingredient, but it worked out better than we thought and everyone enjoyed it 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  5. Yes Pam that is one of our favorites too I got the recipe just after Don and I were married in 1950 same year she and Tom were married on June 3 One correction the 15 cent fruit cocktail is an 8 oz can you can’t. Buy now so I use half of a 15 oz can

  6. Thanks Pam !! Duncan’s Dessert was always one of my favorites and it’s so easy to fix!

  7. Oh I love this 🙂 Can’t wait to try one of Aunt Myrtle’s desserts! Always loved going to visit her and Thanksgiving meals there were the best!!

  8. Thanks Pam. looks and tastes delicious! Great post.

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