This is an easy and tasty dish for a potluck – pure sugary junk food. The varieties are up to your imagination, but here are a few ideas:
- Spread frosting over the cake, instead of Cool Whip or whipped cream.
- White cake, use chocolate pudding instead of gelatin (can still mix in the cherries); sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the whipped topping
- Chocolate cake, use chocolate, butterscotch, or vanilla pudding; drizzle caramel sauce over the whipped topping
- Chocolate cake; mix strong brewed coffee with chocolate pudding mix; mocha frosting
- Any kind of cake; any kind of ice cream, softened, then re-freeze before adding the topping (cake should be cooled before adding the softened ice cream)
- Lemon cake, use pineapple gelatin mixed with crushed pineapple
- White cake with lemon gelatin and lemon pie mix
- White cake with canned coconut milk (thick part only, save the watery part for another use) mixed with sweetened condensed milk; mix some coconut into the Cool Whip
- Spice cake with vanilla pudding (mix in some cinnamon); mix cinnamon and nutmeg into the Cool Whip
- Spice cake with green apple gelatin and apple pie filling (blended into smaller chunks); cream cheese frosting on top
You can do an internet search for poke cake varieties, and find dozens of ideas.
Whatever flavor mixes you choose, be sure the gelatin or pudding sets up pretty thick, so you don’t dissolve your cake into a puddle of mush.
1 yellow cake mix with additional ingredients to make and bake the cake in a 13×9” pan
1 21 oz can cherry pie filling
1 3 oz package cherry gelatin dessert
1 cup boiling water
1 tub of Cool Whip or whipped cream
Bake the cake according to package directions in a 13” x 9” pan. Cool slightly.
Use the round end of a wooden spoon to poke the cake at 1-inch intervals. I found that the cake starts sticking to the wood (and spreading cake crumbs all around) about half way through, so you might want to rinse it; I didn’t care, since it was all going to be covered up with the Cool Whip, anyway.
While the cake is cooling, pour the cherry pie filling into a 4-cup container. Use an immersion blender to blend the cherries into smaller chunks.
In a separate bowl, mix the cherry gelatin with one cup of boiling water, and stir until completely dissolved.
Pour the gelatin into the mashed cherries, and stir to combine.
Pour the cherry mixture evenly over the cake, making sure it drizzles down into the holes.
Refrigerate the cake for two hours or overnight. I put plastic wrap over mine, and the gelatin and plastic stuck together the next day. It came apart easily with a spatula, though. You may want to spray the plastic wrap with some oil before laying it over the cake, or cover with a high cover.
I cut the cake before adding the Cool Whip (although, at the potluck, the person putting out the dessert didn’t know that, and cut it again 😉); you can cut it before or after.
Spread the Cool Whip over the cake, and serve.