In the Pacific Northwest, May has been the most gorgeous month this year. For weeks now the sun has broken free of the clouds and lingering mist quite early in the morning and the temperatures have remained warm outside into the evening, something that happens rarely here, even in mid-summer.
This weather has been perfect for setting herbs and vegetables in the garden, for cooking out on the grill and, best of all, for ice cream! I love to eat ice cream when it is warm enough outside that something besides my body temperature is taking the brain-freezing chill off the cold ice cream and making it soft enough to run in luscious drips down the side of a cone or cupcake liner. It is then that I can really taste the sweet creaminess of the flavor and enjoy the sensation of its gentle coolness as it touches my tongue and dissolves.
Thinking of ice cream and enjoying the weather I was excited to read that Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious are doing an Ice Cream Cupcake Round Up again this year. It has been a treat to sit on my back deck with a frosted glass of iced tea dreaming up flavor combinations. Finally though, I had to set down my tea and get to work on actually making them.
When I got them home I set about trying all three. The Coconut Rum gelato was my hands down favorite. The others were good too but the texture of the gelato was exquisite and the flavor was fun. It was just right for this gorgeous weather. It reminded me of soft warm breezes, sparkling seas, beautifully garnished drinks and those lush tropical flavors which were on my mind as I worked out the rest of my cupcake.
I wanted to add a little spice to the soft luscious flavor of the well-crafted gelato. I thought of Ginger Cookie Sticks and their strong ginger bite. In a cake form with a shot or two of dark rum I thought the flavor would be perfect.
For an icing I thought of the sauce I use on Bread Pudding. I have suggested that it would be a great ice cream topping so I thought this would be a good opportunity to try it. Instead of the bourbon I used in the Bread Pudding sauce I would try it with dark rum. I thought the sauce would add a strong languid butter rum sweetness that would help define the dominant notes in the tropical flavor combination.
To top it off I added Dried Sweetened Hibiscus Flowers from Trader Joe's. These were an impulse purchase some weeks ago. These unusual flowers have a rather funky star shape that seemed to me a bit like a five legged octopus, all fascinating but a little scary. The flavor is a tropical tart-sweet sensation and the texture is less sticky than most candied fruits. It is definitely different and interesting, not to mention lovely. I also cut some small flower shapes from flat pieces of candied ginger to pick up the golden tone of the butter rum sauce and to accentuate the hibiscus flower.
I think it turned out well. These Butter Rum Cupcakes are quite pretty in my new silicone cupcake liners. The Ginger Rum Cakes are dense and flavorful and the Coconut Rum gelato adds a luscious lingering creaminess to the texture. The Butter Rum Sauce is also delicious, though it gets a little stiff in the freezer. When I make these again I will consider serving the topping warm over the frozen ice cream cupcakes and adding the garnish at the last minute.
Ginger Rum Cakes
½ cup butter, melted
1/3 cup dark rum
¼ cup grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, rum, fresh ginger and vanilla. Set aside.
In medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, ginger and cinnamon. Whisk to thoroughly combine dry ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the brown sugar and molasses until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour mixture slowly, beating just until combined.
Add the butter mixture and beat until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners filling each about one-third full to allow room for the ice cream after baking.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until done. (When done, the top will spring back when lightly touched.)
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
When the cupcakes are cool, place them in the freezer for several hours.
When the cupcakes are ready place the ice cream out on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly. Scoop the ice cream on top of the brownies into the cupcake liners. Smooth the ice cream to fill the liner, mounding slightly on the top if desired.
Place the cupcakes back in the freezer until the ice cream is firm.
To finish the cupcakes drizzle with Butter Rum Sauce(recipe below). and return to the freezer again until firm.
Garnish with Dried Sweetened Hibiscus Flowers and Candied Ginger shapes.
Butter Rum Sauce
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons rum
Pinch of salt
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the remaining ingredients, whisking until well combined.
Simmer, whisking often, until thickened, approximately 3 minutes.
Cool slightly and serve.