Growing up in the Caribbean, every life milestone or achievement was a reason for family to come together and celebrate. Birthdays, graduations, weddings meant that family and friends would cook up their best foods, grab soft drinks and juices, ice, plastic dishes and cutlery, and some speakers for music with one destination in mind – THE BEACH!
In St. Croix, our “picnics” were almost ALWAYS held on the shores of one of the island’s best beaches either in Frederiksted at Dorsche or Rainbow Beach or out east end at Cramer’s Park. Sun, sand and sea coupled with our picnic staples.
Foods you’d see at a typical beach picnic in St. Croix include items like season rice, stew chicken, BBQ ribs, potato stuffing, grilled fish, coleslaw, potato salad, mixed veggies that no one really ate, and grilled corn. Of course, no beach lime is ever complete without something sweet.
Out of all the foods and drinks, my favorite part of any family gathering was the dessert. That’s because it was most likely going to be a Cruzan Rum cake and as a kid, the anticipation of this dessert was the highlight of my day.
Naturally, rum is off limits to children. Don’t get me wrong, my father and grandfather snuck me my fair share of Guinness Stout, Manischewitz Wine, Budweiser Beer and the like. It was usually a small sip followed by my face either lighting up with joy (Manischewitz Wine) or twisted with dislike (Guinness Stout and Budweiser Beer).
However, cake was a dessert and kids could eat a slice of rum cake because to the adults, “ain like yuh drinkin’ deh rum so you ko eat ah piece.” All lies because let me tell you – the rum cakes at our beach picnics were LITTY! Depending on who’s aunty made it, it could be soaking in rum to the point where the cake was falling apart. Clearly, that version of the cake was my favorite.
To this day, I can still remember running up to the picnic tables from the sea water with soaking wet hands to get a piece of rum cake. I would sit on the sand and savor every single bite since I knew it would be a while before I had another taste.
Fast forward to today, I guess you can say my grandfather and father made me into the cocktail connoisseur I am today or as my brother would call me, “a lush!” Either way, I enjoy strong rum cocktail every chance I get plus my rum cakes are on point.
Here is my foolproof Cruzan Rum Cake recipe that I make a few times a year because it’s easy to make and a hit at every party it attends. Take it as your contribution to the next family gathering. I pray it brings as much joy to your family as it does to mine. Enjoy!
Foolproof Cruzan Rum Cake
For the cake:
1 box yellow cake mix (18.5oz)
1 box instant vanilla pudding
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil plus 1 TBSP
1/2 cup Cruzan® Aged Dark Rum
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
For the Rum Glaze:
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup Cruzan® Aged Dark Rum
1 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Use cooking spray to coat a 10-inch bundt pan. Combine all ingredients and blend until just smooth and no visible lumps remain. Be careful not to over beat the batter. Pour batter into pan and bake for one hour. Confirm cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the cake to see if it comes out clean.
For Glaze: Melt butter in pan over low heat. Stir in sugar and boil until sugar dissolves. Add rum and almond extract. Poke holes on top of the cake using a fork. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.