Everyone should have a signature dish. Back in college, my friend Oliver Lucky and I were infamous for attending potlucks, where other people showed up with something homemade, bearing a bag of tortilla chips and jar of salsa. And yes, I mean one bag and jar between the two of us. Hey, we were poor and living in the dorms — those were things we could buy at the on-campus convenience store with our food cards.
It’s a good thing that we’ve grown up since then. Not that there’s anything wrong with chips and salsa, but being known for making a bad-ass rum cake is a whole lot more fun.
My obsession with this dessert started on my first Caribbean cruise. I was with my husband, my friend Jenna and her husband. We would stumble off of the ship on our port days and be immediately greeted by several liquor stores, all providing complimentary rum and rum cake samples. Sure it was eight in the morning, but there was no way in hell we were going to turn down free booze!
In fact, we sampled (and purchased) a good amount of both items to bring back home. However once the rum cakes were gone, which didn’t take long, I felt sad. A little empty inside. They were just so moist and delicious that I couldn’t stop thinking about them. And, as time went by, I decided I wanted a rum cake for my pirate-theme scavenger hunt party… There sadly wasn’t another cruise lined up beforehand so I needed to make the cake myself, which that meant finding the perfect recipe.
Luckily, with minimal online digging, I found this one. And it is amazing!
I can vouch for how incredibly spot-on it is to Tortuga’s. It is a perfect match. I have made it now about five or six times, and each time it’s just as delicious as the last. The rum mixture really soaks into it and parts of the cake are just drenched in sweet rum goodness. Those are, of course, my favorite parts!
** Quick note: I have found my cakes need to bake longer than the recipe claims. Just keep baking until the skewer comes out clean — it might take up to another 15-20 minutes, so don’t stress. **
In fact, I love this cake so much, I’ve even experimented a bit with the flavorings. You can switch out the vanilla instant pudding pack for other flavors — I’ve used both chocolate and coconut with great results. You can also play around with the rum*. I have been wanting to do a pineapple rum-coconut pudding cake one of these days. Oh! And a chocolate pudding-coconut rum cake. And maybe a banana pudding-coconut rum one. Way too many options!
** I do think that the Whaler’s Vanilla Rum gives this cake a lot of its authentic flavor (even though it’s Hawaiian, it has a very similar taste to Tortuga’s vanilla rum). So if you do switch up the flavor of rum, I would suggest only switching half of it.
This is an easy cake (even if the recipe seems daunting, it comes together very quickly) and it will make you friends. After all, who could resist something that looks this good?
Now go forth and get boozy!