My nurse friend shared this recipe with me as it was a staff favorite, and it always used to brighten my day. Now I’m sharing it with you.

 


Ingredients:
– 1 box of yellow cake mix
– 1 (3.4 oz) package of vanilla instant pudding mix
– 4 large eggs
– 1 cup vegetable oil
– 1/2 cup water
– 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained (reserve the juice)
– 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
– 1 cup chopped nuts (optional, pecans or walnuts work well)
Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan, or use a little trick of mine and line it with parchment paper for easy cake removal.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, vanilla instant pudding, eggs, vegetable oil, and water. Beat well until all ingredients are fully incorporated. The batter should be smooth, without a lump in sight.
3. Fold in the drained pineapple, sweetened coconut, and chopped nuts if you’re using them. That’s where the “surprise” comes in—every bite is a discovery of textures and flavors.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. While the cake is still warm, poke holes into it with a fork and pour the reserved pineapple juice evenly over the cake. This will infuse it with a moist, tangy sweetness that really brings this little wonder to life.
7. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack, and then cut it into squares to serve.
Variations & Tips:
– For a lighter version, you can substitute the vegetable oil with applesauce and use a low-fat instant pudding mix.
– If you prefer a more intense coconut flavor, consider toasting the coconut flakes before folding them into the batter.
– To make a beautiful, glazed top, mix powdered sugar with a bit of pineapple juice and drizzle it over the cake once it’s cooled.
– And finally, if you’re preparing this for a special occasion, a handful of maraschino cherries placed on top can make each serving a true delight to the eyes as well as the palate.

As the seasons turn and the years add up, some things remain comfortingly constant, and this Pineapple Coconut Surprise Cake is one of them. It’s a testament to family, simplicity, and the joy found in sharing a sweet treat with the ones we love.