Peter and the Starcatcher Orange-Chocolate Chip Pirate Rum Cake

Posted on May 2, 2012

OK, if you didn’t know this already, my hubby Orville is a comic genius. Currently, he’s the standby for five of the leading roles in the hit play, Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway. As I write this, the show has just been nominated for NINE Tony awards!! Woo hoo!

Orville, being endlessly inventive, decided that he would bake a rum cake and give a beautifully wrapped slice to all his cast mates on Opening Night. We might have done individual mini Bundt cakes, but that thought only just occurred to me, and Opening Night has come and gone. Needless to say, Orville made a BEAUTIFUL (full sized) rum cake. I did the glaze, tweaking it as I went along, and then he bagged up beautiful slices tied in pirate-y black ribbon. It was a HIT, and I decided then and there to share it with you on My Tiny Kitchen.

The original Bacardi rum cake is really good, but it set me to thinking about how to make it my own. I envisioned a moist cake perfumed with orange zest and dark chocolate, soaked in rum and sporting a yummy buttery-orange-rum glaze.

Now that I’ve tarted our cake up in honor of Peter and the Starcatcher with tropical orange and dark chocolate (which has nothing to do with the show. I just happen to like those flavors with rum.) I’m also amping up the rum quotient (optionally). I spent several months in the Caribbean in the mid-nineties, and I remember the Tortuga rum cake  in the Cayman Islands being doused with rum! Apparently, it stores indefinitely in the fridge. It certainly packed a punch –  maybe too much for a tea time snack. But I do like more rum than you get it most traditional Bacardi rum cake glazes. So I have a little [optional] trick to literally inject massive rum flavor into the center of the cake. If you have little ones, this probably isn’t the cake to make. You could omit the rum in the cake and the glaze, (substituting milk or buttermilk instead, and I gladly include those instructions), but the point of this cake is the Bacardi, so LIVE IT UP kids!

With these ideas firmly rooted in my head, I started to think about execution. Orville went the extra mile and made the cake from scratch, and while I absolutely agree that ‘from scratch’ cakes rock, I like to post recipes that scream “MAKE ME” and that you, dear reader, will look at and say “Yeah, I could TOTALLY do this.”

Then I did a little research (as in, I read it in The Cake Mix Doctor cookbook). It seems the original Bacardi rum cake was made with a mix! So instead of a pale imitation, in this case using a mix is AUTHENTIC!  So have at it, all you My Tiny Kitchen mateys! Ahoy!

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Peter and the Starcatcher Orange-Chocolate Chip Pirate Rum Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 50 minutes | Servings: 16 servings | Difficulty: Medium


1 box yellow cake mix (not the pudding in the mix type)
1 box vanilla pudding (which is why you don’t want the “pudding in the mix” cake mix)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
4 large eggs
½ cup Bacardi Gold rum
½ cup fresh orange juice
zest of one orange
1 pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

For the glaze:
½ stick unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp water
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup Bacardi Gold rum
zest of one orange

¼ cup Bacardi Gold rum
1 tbsp extra fine sugar (regular sugar works, too, but it will take longer to dissolve)


Preheat your oven to 350º and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan, making sure that all surfaces get coated, and then tap out the excess flour. 

NOTE: Don’t use butter or margarine for this because they contain water and will not allow your cake to brown properly. Use shortening or cooking spray.

Sprinkle the walnuts evenly on the bottom of the pan.

In a mixing bowl of your mixer, stir the cake mix and pudding mix to combine.

Measure the OJ and rum and orange zest in a large measuring cup. (NOTE: use 1/2 cup OJ and 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk if you don’t want to use rum. Which of course will make it a rum-less rum cake, but I promise it will be equally delicious!) Add the eggs and beat with a fork to combine. With the mixer running, slowly add the egg mixture and the melted butter to the cake mix. Once combined, beat on medium speed for two minutes. In a small bowl, toss the chocolate chips with 1 tsp flour. Add the chips and mix briefly to combine. Stop the mixer and fold the batter with a spatula to be sure the chips get everywhere.

Pour the batter over the nuts in the Bundt pan. Even the batter out with a spatula and give it a couple taps on the counter to make sure the batter gets into the nooks and crannies of your Bundt pan.

Bake at 350º for 40-50 minutes. It’s done when a wooden skewer inserted deeply into the center of the ring comes out clean.

Place the pan on a cooling rack set in a baking sheet (more on why later) and allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes in the pan. In the meantime, make your glaze:

Making the Glaze:
Set your timer for 2 minutes. Don’t start it yet.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and 1 tbsp of water and stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Let it boil while stirring for 2 minutes (Timer ON!) Remove from the heat. Add the rum (NOTE: This WILL bubble furiously and steam–gather your courage, steel yourself and don’t let the steam burn your pouring hand!) Whisk it until it settles down, then add the OJ and zest. Turn the heat back to medium and bring back to a low boil, stirring until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat and transfer to a large measuring cup to cool (and for easy pouring!)

You'll need one of these to pump up the rum quotient!

OPTIONAL RUM INJECTION TIME! Combine ¼ cup rum with 1 tbsp of sugar in a kitchen squeeze bottle. Shake until the sugar is dissolved. With the cake still in the pan, poke the tip of the squeeze bottle into the bottom of the cake in about 15 spots, giving a little squeeze of the rum mixture in each spot. Evenly distribute the rum in this fashion.

Now for the first bit of glaze. Pour about ⅓ of the glaze over the bottom of the cake, brushing it to spread it evenly. It’s alright if some goes down the insides of the pan.

Once the glaze on the bottom has soaked in, carefully run a thin paring knife around both the outside edge and the center hole. Say a little prayer to the cake gods, place the cooling rack on top of the pan and flip the whole thing upside down into the a baking sheet (to catch the glaze drippings). Give the pan a little shake to release the cake in one, hopefully intact, unit! Be patient with it, as it may need another go-round with the paring knife or another shake. Don’t try to pry it out because that will only end in tears and a broken Bundt cake. Trust me on that one.

With a wooden skewer, poke 20-30 holes in the cake, penetrating about halfway into the cake. Spoon the warm glaze over the holes, brushing the glaze onto the sides and the middle. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Once cool, lift the rack and use a pastry brush to reclaim any glaze that driped onto the baking sheet and brush it back onto the cake – don’t forget the hole!