Biting wind. A clear sun. The return of scarves and light sweaters.
The smog has dispersed here in Montreal and the humidity has finally admitted defeat. Fall has arrived and everyone knows it. We can breathe again! We can feel like ourselves again!
Or maybe that’s just me.
My first summer in Montreal was a hot one. A humid one. By the end of August, I was absolutely fed up with sticky, sweaty days and rising temperatures that wouldn’t quit. My Nova Scotia skin just can’t handle it.
I welcome fall with very open arms. And this dessert.
Little Pumpkin Rum Cakes. Don’t they just sum up autumn in a few greedy bites?
Once September hits, whether the weather has decided to cooperate or not, I begin buying canned pumpkin and celebrating the arrival of the new season. I would put pumpkin in everything if I could. I bake cookies and muffins with it. I put it in my morning oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon. I pull pies from the oven and place cakes on the cooling rack. And I make these little treats.
Moist, fragrant, warming cakes with a pleasantly orange hue (if only the leaves would follow suit). A rich rum caramel sauce to keep things special and indulgent. And a scoop of ice cream because dishes like these need a bit of creaminess.
Embrace fall and bake these up! You won’t be sorry.
Pumpkin Rum Cakes
adapted from Canadian Living
bakes about 14 little cakes
1 2/3 cup dark brown sugar + more for your muffin tins
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 cups pumpkin puree (buy canned and save yourself some time)
2 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp each ground nutmeg and allspice
Butter and flour large cup muffin tins. Sprinkle the bottom of each cup with 1/2 tsp brown sugar.
In a large bowl, beat 1 2/3 cup brown sugar with butter until creamed together. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating after each addition. Add oil to combine. Beat in pumpkin until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, salt, nutmeg and allspice. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and beat until just combined. Spoon heaping ¼ cups of batter into muffin tins, spreading the tops flat with an offset spatula.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out nearly clean (a few sticky crumbs are a good thing). Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before serving or moving to a rack to cool completely (they’re awfully good warm, though).
½ cup butter
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup dark rum
pinch of salt
Melt butter in a medium pan over med-low heat. Add sugar and bring to a boil; let bubble away for 3 minutes. Add rum and allow to bubble for an additional minute.
To serve: cut cakes in half to ensure they soak up sauce; spoon sauce over and add a scoop of ice cream.