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Easy Ideas for Award-Winning Desserts

/ -- MISSION, KS -- (Marketwired) -- 08/02/16 -- (Family Features) No matter the season or the reason, no party is complete without dessert. The trick to making the most out of your celebrations is finding ways to trim your kitchen time so you can enjoy the festivities, without sacrificing quality or flavor in your favorite sweet treats.

Many dessert recipes require multiple time-consuming steps, but using canned fruit can help cut down on prep work and provide you and your guests with a refreshing, delicious treat.

Fresh fruits are popular ingredients for desserts, but it can be difficult to know whether you're choosing a ripe, sweet fruit. For example, pineapples have several potential indicators of ripeness, such as a sweet smell coming from the bottom of the fruit, the rind yielding slightly to pressure or a yellow, golden color rising toward the crown. An alternative such as Dole Canned Pineapple lets you know you're getting pineapple that is at its sweetest, because the canning process locks in flavor when the fruit is perfectly ripe.

In addition to baked recipes, canned fruit is also well-suited for other desserts, such as fruit salads, baked muffins and breads, or even as a dessert topping. Whether you're creating a blue ribbon recipe for a local competition - such as one of the most famous award-winning desserts, Pineapple Upside Down Cake - or delivering a delicious dessert to the family table, Dole Canned Fruit is the perfect ingredient.

Find more tips for your next gathering from the expert chefs at Dole Packaged Foods' test kitchen at

Photo courtesy of Dole

Old-Fashioned Upside Down Cake
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8
2/3    cup margarine, divided
2/3    cup packed brown sugar, divided
1      can (20 ounces) Dole Pineapple Slices
10     maraschino cherries
3/4    cup granulated sugar, divided
2      eggs, separated
1      teaspoon grated lemon peel
1      teaspoon lemon juice
1      teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4  teaspoons baking powder
1/4    teaspoon salt
1/2    cup sour cream

Heat oven to 350 F.

In 10-inch cast-iron skillet, melt 1/3 cup margarine. Remove from heat. Add brown sugar and stir until blended.

Drain pineapple slices; reserve 2 tablespoons syrup. Arrange pineapple slices in sugar mixture. Place cherry in center of each slice.

Beat remaining 1/3 cup margarine with 1/2 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, lemon peel, lemon juice and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Blend into creamed mixture alternately with sour cream and reserved pineapple syrup.

Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar to make stiff meringue. Fold into batter. Pour over pineapple in skillet.

Bake 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes then invert onto serving plate. Serve warm or cold.

Chocolate Mandarin Orange Cake
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12
2      cans (15 ounces) Dole Mandarin Oranges, divided
1      box (2 layer) devil's food cake mix
3      eggs
1/2    cup vegetable oil
1      orange, peel grated (optional)
1      package (4-serving size) vanilla flavor instant pudding
2      cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
1      cup heavy whipping cream
1      cup semisweet chocolate

Heat oven to 350 F. Spray two (9-inch) cake pans with cooking spray. Drain mandarin oranges, keeping fruit and syrup reserved separately.

In large bowl, combine cake mix, juice from one can of mandarin oranges, eggs, oil and orange peel; beat 2 minutes.

Pour cake mix into prepared pans. Layer mandarin oranges from one can over each cake and gently submerge them into cake batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan onto wire rack; cool completely.

Pour 1/2 cup reserved juice from second can of oranges in bowl with pudding mix; whisk 2 minutes, or until pudding mix is completely dissolved. Remove 12 orange slices from second can and dry with paper towel; set aside. Fold in whipped topping and remaining mandarin oranges. Spread mandarin frosting on top of first layer of cake and out to edges. Place second layer on top of first layer.

In small saucepan, heat cream until just beginning to steam, but do not boil. Remove from stove and stir in chocolate. Stir until well-blended. Pour chocolate mixture over cake and garnish with reserved mandarin oranges. Refrigerate half hour before serving.

Fabulous Carrot Cake
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16
1 1/2  cups butter, softened, divided
1      cup packed brown sugar
1      cup granulated sugar
4      eggs
1      can (20 ounces) Dole Crushed Pineapple, drained
4      cups shredded carrots
1      cup Dole Seedless Raisins
2      teaspoons vanilla extract
3      cups all-purpose flour
2      teaspoons baking soda
1      teaspoon ground cinnamon
1      teaspoon ground ginger
1/2    teaspoon salt
1      package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2  cups powdered sugar
1      teaspoon grated lemon peel
1      tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two (9-inch) round pans.

In large bowl, beat 1 cup butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Fold in crushed pineapple, carrots, raisins and vanilla.

In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Gradually add to pineapple mixture and fold until well-blended. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans 15 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Beat cream cheese with remaining 1/2 cup butter until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, lemon peel and lemon juice until smooth. Frost completely cooled cake. Garnish with additional crushed pineapple and grated carrots, if desired.

Note: Cake can be baked in 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 F. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

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Michael French