Spiced rum caramel and a gingerbread cake

Christmas day has come and gone and I've looked at Orion's Belt from the cracks of evening branches, so proud of Virginia and the secrets between the birch trees. Thus far, highlights have included a Lego Movie Quote-Along with Aaron, chilly afternoon runs decked in fleece, going shot-for-shot with Dad's side of the family (who knew the Kohrs could handle their tequila so well?!!?!), and excitedly brushing up on my Italian...(!!!!!!) 

On Christmas morning we ate cinnamon buns with an orange cream cheese frosting and I painted a gingerbread cake. Gingerbread is my all-time favorite treat when it comes to holiday goodies. I love that the cookies look like little people and that I can dress them in whatever edible outfit I so choose. I love blending molasses and spices and then licking the beaters for that spicy warmth. I love it because it's so perfectly cozy. 

It's the season we long for extra arms to cover us in hugs and lips to soak our skin in kisses. Peppermint hot chocolate reminds us that we are not alone, and gingerbread traces our back with gentle fingertips. The holidays are SO DAMN COZY; a season for warm laundry and secrets and I really love that.

After we had sipped our port and the grownups retired the couch, Alec, Felix, Tina, Alex, and Ian all floated into my family room and down around the poker table. This location has served as our stomp-ground for many, many moons.  Back in the old days, our evenings consisted of truth or dare and shots and tumbles into the hottub. One night there were 25 sleeping bodies in my basement, and Al, Fe, and Teens and I made a nest out of blankets on the floor of the bathroom, allowing fifteen-year-old kids to climb over our bodies as we stayed up all night and told stories. Now that we're older, we casually drink beer and talk about our lack of funds and our excitement for what has yet to come.

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Whenever these kids come over, I make them eat. I made them eat this cake, which sounds like it's not very good, but I promise you it is. The gingerbread and caramel and buttercream play together in a sweet game of leapfrog perfectly suited for the holidays. This year, I made them a pile of desserts: chocolate covered marshmallows, toffee, mexican wedding cookies, vanilla cupcakes, and gingerbread cake.

You can find the entire recipe, including the cake and caramel buttercream HERE, at Top with Cinnamon's adorable little blog. This cake demanded I make wet caramel for the first time ever, finally succeeding on attempt #3 (the first two attempts burnt as I stared over the saucepan and swore.) The original recipe calls for whiskey, but my cousins brew a mean spiced rum so I threw that in there instead. And then I threw the rum caramel into the frosting and OH WOAH. Four layers of nothing but cozy, delicious sugar.


spiced rum caramel sauce

1 cup plus 2 tbsp  granulated sugar sugar

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3 tsp spiced rum 

1 – 2 tsp flaky sea salt

Heat the sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, swirl the sugar around the pan to break up any clumps without stirring. If necessary, use the bottom of a rubber spatula to gently smash any of the clumps.  

While the sugar melts, warm the cream and the butter in a separate saucepan until the butter is fully melted. Set aside. 

After the sugar is melted and has taken on a warm, amber color, remove the saucepan from the heat. Immediately whisk in the warm cream and butter. If the sugar begins to solidify, return the pan to the medium heat until the mixture is liquid. Stir in the salt and the rum. Pour the caramel through a sieve and then into a heat-proof bowl.  

You can put this caramel sauce on anything. Brownies, vanilla bean ice cream, apples, or the gingerbread cake. And said cake consumed with some sort of fire (candles always do) and sweet wine and laughs on a late night.

- Stay cozy