Fall Recipe: Dump Dessert. No Measuring Required!

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I don’t know about you, but I am having a hard time accepting that it’s fall already. I can remember blustery, covid-stricken March so clearly, and April 2020 is pretty vivid, May was a puddle, June was…June was…umm. How can it be November?!

Because I am a creature of habit, I often turn to the kitchen for some solace and comfort, and if you need evidence to believe me, ask my non-stretch jeans that are collecting dust as I type (lol). I’ve been searching for much solace lately!

In keeping with the chill and relaxed autumn spirit, I surely don’t want to have a scientific, numbers-driven, going-to give-me-a-splitting-headache, must-measure-accurately-or-the-entire-thing-is-trash, fall recipe. I want to toss, dash, sprinkle, dump (lol), and then have a delectable dessert or drink to follow, okay?!

My go-to fall recipe is the famous “Dump Dessert” — this little concoction never disappoints me, seriously. If desserts could be a reliable item of clothing (unlike non-stretch jeans), “Dump Dessert” would be your favorite stretchy pajama pants, you know the ones– you have had them since your early 20s and they still fit–thoooose pants. Even when it seems like it might fail, “Dump Dessert” ends up tasting Julia Child-esque, and bowl-licking delicious.

Haven’t heard of it? Willing to try? Read on! I’ve found that this dessert is a great way to use fruits that are on their outs (you know, the ugly-ish apples or pears with brown spots, perhaps you have wrinkly blueberries that keep getting passed over, or the bumped and bruised strawberries your kids skipped at lunch and sent back home in a crumpled, half-zipped baggy). I hate wasting, and this is a great way to “spice” up the remains without having to reduce the ugly fruit to the compost pile. Bonus for me, I also like tricking my kids and making them eat something they previously turned down (just don’t tell them!).

The beauty of “Dump Dessert” is that there’s no wrong way to do it. Here’s a rough diagnostic on how to throw it together:
*Grab a cake pan (9×11), grease it a bit (olive oil, butter, whatever you choose)
*Place chopped (big or small, up to you) fruit of your choice to cover the bottom of the pan (I like chopping into bite-sized pieces because that way it cooks more evenly). Fruits I’ve used are: apples, pears, peaches, plums, blueberries, raisins/craisins, strawberries, blackberries/raspberries, cherries (sweet and tart)…I’ve also added a few pecans/almonds/walnuts too for extra crunch
*Sprinkle 1 package of sugar-free jello (any flavor you like) over the top of the fruit (the jello works as an absorber/sponge to soak up the fruit juices as they cook– I’ve also used tapioca powder successfully here too)
*Pour entire box of dry cake mix (any flavor works, I like white cake best) over fruit and jello powder (balance out for level coverage)
*Pour any can carbonated beverage over the top of everything else (I use zevia and/or diet sodas successfully; I’ve never tried unsweetened soda water, but am thinking it might work!)
*Bake entire pan (350 degrees) until the top looks golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling through the cake mix (generally around 45 minutes, but I’ve accidentally left it in the oven for more than an hour and it still worked!)–remove from oven, place on top of the stove to cool
*Let cool for about 20 minutes (the jello does it’s work to thicken the juices as it cools)
*Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or eat straight from the pan (I’ve done all three with success)

Good luck making this fall recipe, have fun cleaning out your refrigerator crisper of any ugly fruit, and don’t forget to put on your comfortable stretchy pants!