Even though the past few days here in Paris have been unseasonably warm and even sunny at times, it certainly isn't enough for me! I find myself daydreaming of laying on a warm beach, fanned by palm trees and with a tropical drink in hand. Ideally that tropical drink would have rum in it, because rum, dear readers, is the alcohol of choice of this spice mistress. Dark rum, white rum, spiced rum, rhum arrangé...you name it, I love it! Not surprisingly, one of my favorite cakes of all time is rum cake, which I fell in love with after tasting the famous version made by the Tortuga Rum Company, Ltd. in the Cayman Islands where a cruise that I took many years ago made a day stop. A friend recently returned from the Caymans with a box of the famous Tortuga rum cake for me. One bite of that luscious, rum-soaked goodness and I was determined to make some rum cake this weekend, but of course with a little twist...
Any rum cake aficionado can tell you that it is critically important to use a good quality dark rum in your cake. We're lucky here in France to have access to many wonderful rums from the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, but I opted for a bottle of Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, brought back from a Jamaican friend who returned home recently (yes, our friends always bring us the best gifts!!!).
If you look up 'rum cake' on Google, you will surely run into the famous recipe for Bacardi rum cake, which is made with yellow cake mix. Not only have I never seen cake mix here in France, but I've also never understood the appeal of using a mix. So I modified the Bacardi rum cake recipe to make the cake from scratch, also replacing the vanilla instant pudding mix called for in the recipe with some custard powder (either will do) since the latter is not available here as far as I know.
I also decided that instead of a big cake, the rum cake goodness would be even better transformed into little cupcakes. Cupcakes were of course the thing in the States a few years ago (though sources tell me that this trend may be on its way out). The hype eventually made it here to France, but a couple of years later as is the usual. Le cupcake now has lots of fans over here, where it is considered le gâteau le plus "hype" du moment, according to Le Post.
Though the Bacardi rum cake recipe calls for a rum and butter glaze, I decided to top these cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting flavored with a little rum (of course!) and a tiny bit of lime juice. It was the perfect combination, like a little burst of the tropics in my mouth. Perfect for a little more daydreaming of sun, sea and hopefully vacations to come!
RUM CAKE CUPCAKES
Makes 18 cupcakes
2 cups and 2 teaspoons cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cup white sugar
3 level teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter, diced into tiny pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small package vanilla instant pudding mix or 1 cup custard powder
1/2 cup lowfat milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup diced walnuts or pecans
For cream cheese rum frosting
150 grams (about 5-6 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3/4 of a shot glass dark rum
1/2 of a shot glass sugar syrup
1/2 cup powdered sugar or icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
Lime zest, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C / 325 degrees F. Spray two muffin pans (one 12-muffin pan and one 6-muffin pan) with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the first seven cake ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until well blended, and then beat with an electric mixture for a minute, until dry and crumbly.
3. Add the vanilla pudding mix/custard powder, milk, eggs, rum, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to the bowl and continue beating on low for about 3 minutes, making sure that you scrape the sides down at least twice to ensure that all ingredients are well blended.
4. Pour into muffin pans and bake for 30 minutes.
5. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, rum and sugar syrup with an electric mixer under smooth. Add the icing sugar, continually mixing in order to incorporate it well. Finally add the lime juice (this is really to taste), mixing well.
6. Once the cupcakes are done (test with a toothpick to make sure), remove them from the muffin pans and let them cool. Frost them with the cream cheese rum frosting and decorate with a bit of lime zest on top if you wish.