Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year's Eve Seafood Dinner with Rum Cake

My husband and I started a tradition when we were first dating of staying home and making a fancy dinner instead of going out for NYE.  We also always get a bottle of Asti.  In years past, we've made prime rib- delicious slabs of herb and garlic crusted beefy goodness.  We decided to do a seafood dinner this year.

My husband suggested shrimp two ways (peel-and-eat with cocktail sauce, and scampi), crab legs, crab cakes, garlic bread, and baked potatoes, plus dessert.  "Holy shit," I said to myself- there's no way I can eat like that and still respect myself on New Year's Day.

I wound up getting all the fixins and suggesting a two-part dinner.  In case we got seafood overload on the first round, we could always have the rest the next day.  That wound up being the case.  We had the peel-and-eat shrimp (sans cocktail sauce- in all my grocery planning, I neglected to write that one down) and the crab legs with baked potatoes and dessert.  It was delicious.

For dessert, I went with a traditional favorite from my family- rum cake.  My great-grandmother, Lucy Castle, a sweet and much-loved lady, was known for her version of the decadent, boozy cake every holiday season, and I was very fortunate to inherit both her recipe and her actual Bundt pan.  I'm not a religious or even "spiritual" person by any means, but I do have a fondness for the idea that personal items can have good mojo.  I feel good and have good memories of Grandmother Castle every time I bust out that pan.

For tonight, I'm feeling too lazy to go get the newspaper clipping and type out the rum cake recipe, but it's readily available online so I'll give you the guidelines.  It's simple enough, and uses a yellow cake mix.  (Oh, the horror!)  This is one of the very few times I can bring myself to use a cake mix.  I pride myself on scratch baking, but since it was good enough for Grandmother Castle, it'll be good enough for me.

Rum Cake
Serves 12-14

1 box yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup each cold water, vegetable oil, and dark rum
Generous cup of chopped pecans

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 325º.  Grease and flour a Bundt pan, or spray with Pam baking spray that contains flour.  (The spray works great, is less messy, and avoids a floury crust.)

Dump the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, vegetable oil, and rum into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk or electric mixer.

Place chopped pecans in the bottom of the prepared Bundt pan and pour cake batter on top.  Smooth batter and bake cake for about an hour, until a toothpick or skewer just comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool for about 15 minutes before inverting it out of the Bundt pan onto a sheet pan with a cooling rack inside.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the water and sugar.  Boil for about 4-5 minutes, or until the sugar has melted.  Remove from heat and carefully stir in the rum.

Using a fork, gently prick the cake all over.  Pour the glaze over the cake, cool completely, and serve.

My pint-sized helper took a photo of the cake ingredients in the bowl before she used the electric mixer on them.

A generous cup of chopped pecans goes into the well-lubed Bundt pan.  I use Pam baking spray with flour.

She liked the rum cake batter a little *too* much.  :D

Unglazed rum cake.

After being stabbed repeatedly but gently with a fork, the cake is glazed.

Hello, sexy!

One piece was never enough.