People who first meet this cake don’t quite know what to do with themselves. They stutter. They pray. They beg for more. It’s a sad and beautiful spectacle to behold, especially since I was once one of those fools. Now my reaction to seeing it in residence is to simply punch everyone in the vicinity, shove the cake down my shirt for storage, and sprint for the hills. You could say it’s excessive, but I call it survival of the fittest.
Since my grandmother passed, my mother has gallantly taken up the mantle when it comes to Rum Cake prep. This is no small feat (she usually makes 4-5 during mid-December alone), but she does it without complaining (most of the time. One time I was worried she cracked in the middle of a holiday baking extravaganza because she sat down to “lunch” with a bowl of cookie dough.)
It’s highly addictive, moist, rummy, and has a beautiful butter-rum glaze that gives it a teeeeensy crunch on the outer crust. It’s amazing.
1 Yellow cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding
1/2 c oil
1/2 c water
1/2 c rum
1/2 c chopped pecans (optional)
1 stick butter
1/4 c rum
1 c sugar
1 tsp rum extract (I didn’t have this and it turned out just fine, so consider it optional if rum extract is not a staple in your house)
Heat your oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, pudding, eggs, oil, water, and rum together. I would recommend doing one liquid at a time and mixing until homogenous, or else you’ll end up with lumpies. Generously grease a bundt pan and sprinkle the pecans on the bottom. Pour the batter in and level out with a spatula. Bake for 45-50 min, or until a knife comes out clean. For the glaze, bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan, then immediately pour over the hot cake. Let stand until absorbed (about 10 minutes), then invert onto a plate to cool completely. Serve alone or with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!
Everyone has their own list of holiday favorites. Recipes they make every year without fail, whether they’ve been passed down from grandma or discovered in a lonely college dorm room whilst dreaming of a white Christmas. This year I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites, some new ideas I’ve been toying with, and suggestions from friends, so every day for the next 12 I will be posting a new recipe to help everyone enjoy the holidays. Today’s beast: Peppermint Brownies.
While peppermint bark is a staple this time of year, I can never eat very much of it. This is probably a good thing for my blood sugar levels, but December is the one month I feel entitled (yes, entitled) to shove as much food into my mouth as possible without feeling an iota of guilt. It’s my right as an American, a human, and practicing Atheist. And I don’t care that that last bit doesn’t make any sense. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
What better way to transform a chocolatey peppermint treat than to turn it into a brownie? I can think of nothing superior.
I did not think enough ahead and didn’t put the crushed candy canes on before popping the pan into the oven, but I would definitely suggest it for any followers. The brownies form a bit of a crust, so sprinkling them on after they bake is not really ideal.
Peppermint Bark Brownies
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 Tbsp. butter
3 oz. cream cheese
3oz white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
2 c. sugar
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsifted flour
3 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 c crushed candy canes
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13×9″ pan, or line with foil. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips & 6 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan. Set aside. In a standing mixer, cream remaining butter with cream cheese and melted white chocolate; add 2/3 c. sugar and beat well. Add 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 Tbsp. flour. Set aside. In the clean mixer, beat 4 eggs till frothy; add 1 1/3 cup sugar & beat again. Add semi sweet chocolate mixture, then add rest of flour with salt & baking powder. Add peppermint extract and rest of vanilla. In the prepared pan, layer half of semi sweet chocolate mixture, then cream cheese, then rest of chocolate mixture. Dip knife down into mixture and swirl layers, then sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Bake for 40 minutes or until barely done. This recipe does much better when it’s a bit wet— when it’s dry it just ain’t right. Nom nom nom!
I promised Lemon-Lavender Bars, an excursion into the unknown (at least for me), but alas. Every other conceivable spice/herb/plant based baking item was on the shelf, but not our much sought Lav! Could I interest you in a lemon-gumbo file bar? No? How about essence of cardamom? Maybe not.
Well, let’s not cry about it. Biting into a lemon bar reminds you that there still is good in the world, so we won’t deprive ourselves of that joy just because some stupid grocery store didn’t have the common decency to properly stock their shelves…names shall remain unmentioned.
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