I’ve been using a lot of rum lately. Like bourbon, rum is a flavorful spirit that can make a great addition to baked goods. The most well-known use of rum in a dessert is a rum cake, which is typically soaked in a rum and sugar syrup to make it exceptionally moist and give it a strong rum flavor. Rum can be used in recipes in other ways, as well, and these Rum and Vanilla Cupcakes are just one tasty example.
These moist, fluffy cupcakes have a generous splash of rum right in the batter. It is enough to give them a good rum flavor, though you can still taste the vanilla and the buttery in the cupcake batter. Using real rum will give your baked goods a much better flavor than rum extract – since rum extracts are generally made with artificial flavors, while actual rum is the real thing! – and the alcohol will burn off during baking, so you don’t need to worry one bit about getting a buzz while you indulge in a cupcake or two. I topped these light, tender cupcakes with a rum-spiked cream cheese frosting to keep the rum theme going. The rum adds a nice contrast to the tangy cream cheese, making this a frosting that would be good on almost any kind of cake.
They key to getting a lot of rum flavor in your cupcakes is to use a good, flavorful rum – and not to use a white rum. White rums can be outstanding (there are several companies that make flavorful aged white rums), but generally they are better used in cocktails than in baking. You will get a lot more flavor using a golden, aged rum or dark rum in your baked goods. Different types of rum can be used interchangeably in most baking recipes that call for rum. In these cupcakes, I used Appleton Estate X/V, which is an excellent all-purpose rum that makes fantastic cocktails and won’t break the bank. If you want a more pronounced molasses flavor, opt for a dark rum like Meyer’s.
These cupcakes are excellent on the day that they are made, but they are moist enough to keep well for a few days after baking if you keep them stored in an airtight container. If you happen to be in the mood for an extra rummy dessert, you can drizzle a teaspoon or two of rum over the cupcakes while they are still hot (this is a method often used in rum cakes) to really punch up the flavor. After they cool, you can frost them as usual.
Rum and Vanilla Cupcakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk, any kind
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 tbsp rum
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar together at medium-high speed until the mixture has at least tripled in volume, about 4-5 minutes. Whisk in flour mixture by hand or with the mixer at low speed.
In the meantime, combine butter and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to melt the butter. Remove from heat and add in vanilla extract and rum. Allow to cool slightly, 2-3 minutes.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually incorporate the hot milk mixture into the cake batter until batter is uniform.
Divide evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 14-16 minutes, until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Rum Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp dark rum
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, cream together all ingredients except the sugar. Gradually blend in the sugar until the frosting reaches a thick, spreadable consistency. For a stiffer frosting that is easier to pipe, you may need to add a bit of additional sugar.