Maybe next lifetime. If I am good in this one. Like, really, really good.
In the meantime, there is one thing I can always count on to make me feel like I have it together. And that is making rum cake.
I have loved rum cakes since Mike and I discovered them on our honeymoon (ten years ago!) in the Caribbean; the perfect little Tortuga ones, should you get your hands on them, are fabulous. Recently, I had a rum cake epiphany.
It happened like this: I had made my rum cake (a skill of which I am inordinately proud but shouldn't be as they are embarassingly easy) to take to a BBQ and snorkeling party at the beach beneath palm trees.
Yes, life can be hard sometimes, but somehow we find the strength to persist and endure. Let's move on, shall we?
Anyway, our houseguests, who had also generously been invited to the get-together, got slim chance to try out the rum cake as, even with the variety of desserts available, the partygoers pounced, devoured, and left nary a crumb behind of said cake.
Now, that same week I needed to make cupcakes for Thomas' birthday, which I intended to frost green and arrange into a Very Hungry Caterpillar surrounded by (yes) one apple, two pears, three plums, four strawberries, and five oranges.*
Lest you give me credit for creativity, confession: the idea in fact belongs to this fantastic baker http://cococakecupcakes.blogspot.com/2009/03/hungry-caterpillar-cupcake-party-train.html in Vancouver who makes such cute cupcakes I may have to make a pilgrimage to track her down and shake her sugar-dusted hand. Her cupcakes are picture perfect. She probably hosts dinner parties too. Sigh.
*Those of you who have not read Eric Carle's classic story, what on earth have you been doing? Get a copy -it's a great gift- acquire a small child, (many are available for loan by their parents, trust me,) and prepare for delight as you share this wonderful little book.
Soooo, needed a cupcake recipe...the guests wanted to try more rum cake....I am always up for rum cake...see where this is going?
I experimented and the result was chocolate rum cake cupcakes, substituting a basic and decadent buttercream for the usual rum glaze. Tasty? Oh my friends, yes, yes YES!
The original had face and antennae and feet that I made out of white chocolate melted, colored, and shaped, but once again humidity won that battle (humidity always wins!) and I ended up scrapping that gooey multicolored mess into a bowl which I then hid, resorting to a last minute cut-from paper kindergarten level fix. Fortunately, Thomas loved the result and was none the wiser.
And because I love you so much, here is the recipe for those naughty but oh-so-delicious cakes:
measuring up to the Burj Khalifa
Thomas' Rum Cake CupcakesBlend together:
1 (18.25 oz) box of yellow cake mix.
1 (3.4 oz) box of instant pudding mix. I've tried vanilla and chocolate and banana and they are all delicious in this recipe. This time was chocolate.
4 eggs (loosen that waistband at this point)
1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable oil.
1/2 cup rum (I like to use Bacardi Gold, choose according to taste. Spiced rum makes an interesting one too, especially nice for the holidays)
Now that these are all swirled together, put them into lined cupcake tins, about 3/4 full depending on how much of a crown you like, and cook at 350 F (180 C) about 20 minutes, checking until a toothpick comes out clean. FYI: the alcohol bakes out during the cooking, no worries for the 4 year old. He will merely be hopped up on sugar. As will the rest of the household.
Let the cupcakes cool completely while you whip up your favorite buttercream frosting. I made one with real butter and homemade vanilla (got the beans at the Spice Souk...can't get any more groovily exotic than that) and what here is called icing sugar and I call powdered sugar, and didn't bother adding any milk to it.
Few things more satisfying as how darned easy it is to make buttercream icing. Never, ever buy those rotten little containers of premade frosting gunk. Promise me.
You can probably sneak one still-warm cupcake with gooey slipping-off icing that you slapped on because you couldn't stand it and no one is watching. Their own fault for not offering to help. (Like you'd need help making these.)
Snarf it down whilst standing in the kitchen and growl like a lion tearing away at a downed gazelle on the Serengeti at anyone who dares come near.
Once that bit of primal insanity is satisfied, you can frost your cupcakes as prettily as you like. Stand back. Go oooh! Serve them and be adored.
Go for a run the next morning. Except that all the cupcakes will be gone by then, life should be pretty darned good by that point.