Spiced-Rum Cake with Caramel-Rum Frosting and Candied Walnuts
This rich, full-flavored spice cake requires some fuss but is more than worth the effort. We love the nut-filled cake, with its blend of heady, warm spices, its almost achingly sweet frosting, and its hint of dark rum in every bite. The candied walnuts are delicious on the cake and on their own—make a batch for snacking, topping ice cream or to decorate other desserts. The frosting is based on classic caramel sauce and, as such, you should exercise caution when working with the hot sugar—get out the long-handled wooden spoon and thick potholders.
Wine recommendations: Words like "walnut" and "spice," which we use to describe this cake, also apply to some of its better wine matches. Tawny Port—whether from Australia, Portugal or elsewhere—is a good bet. We like Porto Poças's 20 Year Tawny Port and Yalumba's nonvintage Antique Tawny from Barossa Valley. A Pedro Ximénez Sherry would also do the trick. Or why not try a hot coffee-based cocktail for after-dinner enjoyment? Both a Café Amore (coffee, plus amaretto and brandy) and a Jamaican coffee (coffee, rum, Tia Maria) would complement this cake.
|Number of Servings:||Serves 8 to 10 (makes one 9-inch, 2-layer cake)|
|Ingredients:||1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup milk
1/4 cup dark rum 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butterr> 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts (about 4 ounces)
For the caramel frosting:
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons dark rum
|Directions:||To make the candied walnuts: Preheat the oven to 350Â°F. In a mixing bowl, toss the walnut halves with both sugars and the salt. Spread in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold them. Scatter the pieces of butter over the nuts and sprinkle with the rum. Roast for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown, stirring the nuts and shaking the pan 2 or 3 times during roasting. For darker nuts, roast for an additional 2 or 3 minutes. Spread the nuts on a cool plate or tray to cool and use right away, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
To make the cake: Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350Â°F. Butter and lightly flour the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper to fit in the bottoms of the pans. Insert the paper rounds and butter and lightly flour them.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, ginger and allspice. In a separate glass measuring cup or bowl, stir together the milk and rum.
In the bowl of an electric mixer that is fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Reduce the mixer to medium-low and add some of the milk mixture, alternating with some of the flour mixture, until well combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts. With a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly between them. Smooth the surface of the pans and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cakes spring back when gently pressed and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let the cakes cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Turn them out onto the racks and let cool completely.
To make the frosting: Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water. Set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice and cook over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture turns amber. Stir this mixture for the first 2 minutes with a wooden spoon but once the sugar melts, stop stirring and only tilt the pan to insure even cooking. Take care; the sugar is very hot. (If the sugar burns, turns dark and smells acrid, discard it and start again.)
Remove the pan from the heat and slowly and carefully pour 1/2 cup of the cream into the pan. It will bubble and foam. Stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until the bubbling subsides and it's smooth and well blended. Add the rum and stir well.
Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat for about 5 minutes or until the caramel lightens in color and thickens further. Scrape into a small bowl and set aside.
In a clean bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and set on medium-high speed, beat the remaining 1-1/2 cups of cream until stiff. Add the reserved caramel to the cream and whip just until blended and the frosting is spreadable. The caramel will deflate the whipped cream but it will hold its body. Do not overbeat or the frosting will separate. Refrigerate for up to 30 minutes until needed. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process about two-thirds of the candied walnuts until coarsely ground. Reserve the best looking, largest walnuts to decorate the cake.
Trim the cake layers with a long, serrated knife to insure they are even. Put one layer on a cake plate and spread frosting over the top of the cake layer. Sprinkle with about a third of the walnuts and using the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula, gently press the nuts into the frosting.
Top with the other cake layer. Using a long, metal spatula, spread the rest of the frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake. Decorate the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the chopped walnuts and then with the reserved whole walnuts halves.