Christmas for me doesn't only represent an Americana tradition; it also reminds me of growing up in a Jamaican household. So along with egg nog and sugar cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees, I also feel the urge to make traditional Jamaican holiday fare. For the holidays, no self-respecting Jamaican would be without black cake, sorrel, or rum cream. Black cake is a heavy fruit laden cake that's been drenched in rum and then iced with heavy white sugar frosting.
This cake is filled with macerated cherries, currants, and raisins and flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon. I have never tried to bake one before because I always lived around master bakers who'd spoil us around the holidays with this amazing confection. However, in the West End, all the the master bakers are Southern, and I'm more apt to receive a gift of red velvet cake than black cake. So I'm going to master this dessert myself. (I'll keep you posted. It takes days/weeks to prepare.)
After black cake, the next most popular Jamaican staple is sorrel. It is a drink made of Jamaican hibiscus, ginger, and Wray & Nephew rum. Just like black cake, it's filled with spiciness and richness in flavor--and alcohol content. I usually make this every year around Thanksgiving, so the flavors will be well married by Christmas. Sadly, this year I didn't get my hands on any sorrel--and American hibiscus isn't the same. Consoling myself, I decided to go with another favorite of my family--rum cream. Rum cream has some similar flavors to Irish Cream (think Bailey's), but also has a distinct spice that irish cream misses. It's actually quite hard to get rum cream in the states--especially the most popular, the most authentic, Sangster's--so I endeavored to make my own. It came out flawlessly! So I'm sharing the recipe with you:
1 can (14oz) sweet milk (condensed milk)
1 1/2 cup Gold Rum
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup
1 Tbsp Caramel Syrup
4 Tsp instant coffee granules
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp coconut extract (can be replaced with almond)
whole milk for thinning
Mix all the ingredients in a blender (a stick blender is preferred, but any will really do). Usually this recipe seems a bit thick at this point, so I add equal parts rum and whole milk until it reaches a pourable consistency. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate.
Last a month in fridge, if it makes it that long.
Now that I have these things in the works, it reminds me that my move from New York (little JA) to Atlanta has introduced me the the pleasures of Southern cooking, but when it comes to feeling truly domestic, truly like a homemaker, it's my Jamaican taste that wants to be sated. So while I'm still loving Martha Stewart, I'm also loving Aunty Dolly and Cousin Hyacinth for their delicious contributions to my ideas about the holidays and home.
If you look closely, you can see my Martha-inspired ornaments too! So tell me friends, what are you doing this week to feel domestic? How are you enjoying your home this holiday season?