Now that Halloween and All Saints Day (plus All Souls Day) are over, we've got to start thinking about Christmas. We're not just talking about decorations, which, obviously, has turned red and green, gold and silver, with lots of Santa Claus images, Christmas trees, gift-wrapped presents, stars, Nativity scenes and reindeer in department stores and shopping malls. More importantly, we're talking about Christmas food – both to give away as edible presents and to serve unexpected guests who come visiting during the holidays. Aside from cookies and pastries, cakes are a natural choice for both. Since you're always faced with limited time for food preparation, opt for cakes that are easy and convenient to whip up.
The Maya Kitchen suggests Decadent Chocolate Rhum Cake. It's easy to prepare, since you will be using a tried-and-tested mix, Maya Decadence Devil's Food Cake Mix, but dressing it up to be so impressive that your guests (or gift recipients) would think it's a gourmet cake you've labored long and hard to make. Simply use a bundt pan instead of the usual round cake pan or square baking pan, and finish it off with a generous drizzling of caramel sauce.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (or 177 C). Grease and flour bottom of a 9-inch bundt pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil, water and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer at low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape sides and continue beating for 2 minutes at medium speed, or beat by hand using a wire whisk for 3 minutes.
3. Pour mixture into prepared bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
4. Remove and let cool.
5. When cool, place on a serving platter.
The rhum glaze:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum
1. Melt butter in a saucepan.
2. Stir in water and sugar. Let boil until sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
4. Brush cooled chocolate cake generously with the rhum glaze.
The caramel sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Maya All Purpose Flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Caramelize sugar in saucepan over medium heat until golden brown.
2. Dissolve flour in milk. Strain and add to caramelized sugar. Cook over low fire until thick and coats the back of a spoon.
3. Add butter and vanilla extract.
4. Just before serving the cake, pour caramel sauce into a squeeze bottle and drizzle generously on cake.
5. Slice cake and serve.
Dolly T. Dy-Zulueta is editor of Flavors Magazine. She graduated from a certificate course in culinary and baking skills at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies (CACS). Aside from this course, she has taken several cooking classes in several cooking schools.