[Photograph: Pam Parrella]

Jell-O has gifted us with many a classic American dessert. In this column I've only hit the tip of the iceberg with Strawberry Jell-O Salad and Homemade Pudding in a Cloud. Recently, thanks to a friend's birthday, I became acquainted with Jell-O Rainbow Cake—also known as Jell-O Poke Cake— and I couldn't help but give it a shot.

The basic recipe is simple: 1 box white cake mix + 1 box Jell-O = fun. (Make that 2 boxes if you want some dual color action in your cake). After baking and cooling the cake you poke the surface with a fork, then pour liquid Jell-O goo over the top. Finally, you refrigerate for 3 hours then frost al gusto (the folks at Kraft recommend Cool Whip—personally, I recommend pretty much anything other than Cool Whip).

Is this a sophisticated dessert? No. Though making it with a from-scratch cake (as in the recipe that follows) helps. And you can always sub a favorite juice with some gelatin for the boxed stuff to make it a little more fruity and a little less sweet. But for those who grew up in the late 70s and 80s, this cake is pure nostalgic joy. Plus the slices do look very cool.

Get the Recipe

Holiday Jell-O Poke Cake»


Got a favorite classic American dessert recipe you'd like to see featured here? Email us with the subject: "American Classics."

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.

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