Without rum, we wouldn’t have rum desserts like rum cake, rum balls, and rum ’n’ raisin ice cream. Often linked to pirates, rum’s first associations with sea life began in 1655. At this time, the British Navy claimed the tropical paradise of Jamaica. Locals had been making the liquor before this time. They soon used it to pay sailors and make barter purchases. Being National Rum Day today, we thought we’d take a closer look at this pirate drink. After all, even Queen Elizabeth II uses it to celebrate special occasions.
Beyond the Caribbean, we can also tie rum to Canada’s Maritimes and Newfoundland. Here, the Royal Canadian Navy still receives rations during special occasions. Dessert-wise, in this corner of Canada we find figgy duff. Its name comes from two Cornish colloquialisms, “figgy” meaning raisins, and “duff” meaning pudding. We guarantee figgy duff will make any sailor weak at the knees, as rum often makes an appearance. Other times many just serve it with a rum butter sauce.
Aussies and New Zealanders simply refer to this rum dessert as Christmas pudding. Another rum-based dessert that’s very popular is the rum ball. These are little hand-rolled balls made from a combination of cocoa powder, rum, and desiccated coconut. They’re the quintessential Christmas treat for the sun and surf worshipping countries. Served cold on a hot December day, make sure you don’t have too many if you’re the designated driver!
Another wonderfully refreshing rum dessert to beat the summer heat is the rum ‘n’ raisin ice cream flavour. It’s also known as Malaga gelato, if you’re in Italy. Dried raisins are first soaked in rum before they’re mixed into the custard-based ice cream. This process transforms them into juicy little bursts of spicy flavour we’re familiar with when we think back to some bread puddings and rice puddings.
If you want to get really fancy, you can enjoy rum that’s mixed with banana liqueur in the form of bananas Foster. This is a New Orleans classic that flambées bananas before serving them with ice cream. But what about something from the Caribbean and the regions we mentioned at the very start? This is where you’ll find the rum cake, a distant relative to the figgy duff. It can be as simple as a rum-soaked sponge cake, but it can also have rum-soaked raisins included to elevate it to the next level.
Returning to sea life and rum’s use when celebrating, want to know the phrase the Queen cries out to launch festivities? It’s “splice the mainbrace!” Traditionally a naval term that’s supposed to refer to a tricky emergency repair job, it’s now tied to celebratory drinking for any occasion. For sailors, it’s code for double rations of rum. We here at Dessert Advisor were thinking that perhaps we can adopt this phrase when we next serve rum desserts, to permit second helpings of the dessert.