“I had no idea when you and your brother were small that I was raising pirates.”
My mom said that to me just the other day. I’m not sure if she was referring to me and my brother’s affinity for the ocean, rum, swearing, or our general swashbuckling demeanor but either way, it made me laugh! I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I have a sincere love of all things pirates and the Caribbean (peruse the Caribbean section of The Rose Table here) so it’s not a stretch to imagine that I’ve been counting down the days to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Pirates of the Caribbean was always my favorite ride at Disneyland…alright, alright, not always. Five year-old me was so terrified by the skull’s haunting Dead Men Tell No Taaaaaales that I refused to look up for the rest of the ride but I quickly learned to love the boat ride on future trips. (You can read about recent trips to Disneyland here and here.) My whole family was ecstatic when we heard they were making a movie based on the ride starring my favorite actor, Johnny Depp.
I saw the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl a whopping six times in theaters and it remains my favorite movie to this day. My parents even have the Black Pearl poster hanging in their house and multiple framed photos of Jack Sparrow. True story! To celebrate the new film, I decided to create a Captain Jack Sparrow cupcake. It’s dark, mysterious, and of course packed with Caribbean rum. Captain Jack wouldn’t want it any other way! It starts with my favorite dark chocolate cupcake and has a variation of my caramel-rum frosting with a caramel-rum drizzle on top. Garnish with a pirate flag for more Captain Jack fun!
Note: you will have extra caramel-rum sauce but is that a bad thing? Use the leftover sauce on ice cream. Yum!
I of course had to use a Caribbean rum in this recipe: Captain Morgan. Side note: I’m so excited to tour the Captain Morgan Distillery in St. Croix later this summer! If you don’t have Captain Morgan on hand, use your favorite golden or spiced rum in this recipe. The caramel-rum frosting is easily doubled but let me tell you, a little bit goes a long way as caramel is very sweet!
The new film, by the way, is fantastic. Don’t listen to the critics tearing it apart for details like aerodynamics. If you love a good pirate adventure and adore Will and Elizabeth, you’ll bounce out of the theater completely satisfied. It’s my favorite Pirates since The Curse of the Black Pearl. Go see the film and bake these cupcakes ASAP because not all treasure is silver and gold, mate. Sometimes it’s chocolate!
“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!”
Captain Jack Sparrow Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
For the caramel-rum sauce:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup good quality golden or spiced rum
*For the caramel-rum frosting:
1/4 cup caramel-rum sauce, cooled
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp milk
*Please note: you need a little more frosting if you’re piping on any cupcake rather than spreading. I usually do 1.5 times this amount: 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp caramel-rum sauce, 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 12 Tbsp butter, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 3 Tbsp milk.
To bake the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two muffin cup pans with cupcake liners and spray each with non-stick spray.
- Combine sugar, flour, dark cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Add milk, oil and vanilla all at once and beat on medium speed of mixer about two minutes. Stir in the boiling water. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
- Frost with caramel-rum frosting and drizzle with caramel-rum sauce.
To make the rum sauce:
- Melt 1 stick of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
- Add dark brown sugar and heavy cream. Cook until sugar has dissolved.
- Remove pan from heat and add 1/2 cup of good dark rum. Now is not the time to use cheap rum because the flavor is important to the quality of the cake. I used Captain Morgan.
- Carefully put the pan back on the heat. The rum will ignite. If it doesn’t, you can light it manually with a lighter. The flame should burn out in a minute or two. Continue cooking for one or two more minutes after the flame has died down to thicken the sauce.
- Pour into a heat-proof bowl and allow to cool.
To make the caramel-rum frosting:
- Cream together powdered sugar and softened butter with an electric mixer.
- Slowly incorporate vanilla, rum-caramel sauce, and milk. Beat until smooth.
- Add additional milk or powdered sugar if needed for desired consistency.
To put it all together:
- Top cooled cupcakes with caramel-rum frosting and drizzle extra caramel-rum sauce on top. Garnish with a pirate flag and gold sprinkles.
P.S. Epic Caribbean backdrop brought to you by a canvas print of a photo I took in Turks and Caicos. Read all about Alexandra Resort, where the photo was taken, here.
Edit: I served these swashbuckling cupcakes at Disney Dinners: Pirates of the Caribbean. Read all about the party here. Watch the video highlights here: