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Dorothy Dean presents: Rum cake recipe brings taste of the islands home

Moist and luscious, this holiday cake delivers a kick of rum. (Audrey Alfaro)
Moist and luscious, this holiday cake delivers a kick of rum. (Audrey Alfaro)

I’ve done a few cruises to the Caribbean, always to different ports. But no matter where we anchored, these little yellow, hexagon–shaped boxes were everywhere to be found.

Sold in every gift shop and on every corner, they contained the best alcohol-laced cakes on the planet. They’re called Tortuga Rum Cakes.

In the islands, rum cake is a traditional dessert and gift during the holiday season.

And it’s easy to see – and taste – why.

This golden cake has a moist, luscious texture and rich flavor with a definite kick of rum. This is no surprise, seeing that this recipe calls for a full cup of it. Half of the rum is added to the batter, while the other half is in the sweet, buttery glaze that the cake soaks up after it’s been baked.

But you don’t have to wait for a trip to the islands to try one.

This copycat recipe is spot on, though, it does cheat a little. It uses boxed cake mix. But let’s admit between gift wrapping and all the other holiday prepping, any hack is a blessing.

The batter is finger-, spatula- and bowl-licking tasty. You can add more, or less, (who would do that?) rum, depending on your taste – and tolerance. Any rum works. Use your favorite.

You can even experiment with flavored rum and different flavored cake mix. Also, if you don’t care for nuts, you can omit them. But they do add nice texture and a bit of nutty flavor.

Be sure to let the cake cool to room temperature. It gives time for glaze to seep into the cake and the delicious flavors to meld together.

So grab a box of cake and a bottle of rum! Make this Caribbean holiday staple one of yours as well.

Rum Cake

For the cake:

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix

1 (3.4-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup rum

For the glaze:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Evenly sprinkle chopped nuts in bottom of the pan.

Combine cake mix and pudding mix in a large bowl. Mix in the eggs, water, oil and rum. Beat well. Pour in Bundt pan over nuts.

Bake for one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leaving cake in pan, set on rack to cool. Meanwhile make glaze.

Make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine butter, water and sugar. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

With cake still in pan, poke holes all over the top (which is the really the bottom of cake) using a toothpick or long skewer. Slowly drizzle about 1/2 cup of the glaze over cake, letting it soak into holes and run down the sides. Let it sit for 20 minutes upside down to soak up the glaze and then invert onto serving plate. (Run a butter knife carefully along side and middle of cake to help loosen it from pan before inverting.) Poke holes on top and sides of cake and brush or pour on more glaze, reserving a small amount to drizzle on slices when serving, if desired. Allow cake to cool to room temperature before serving.