If there was on holiday food memory other than cinnamon rolls, it was making a rum cake with my mom. It was nothing fancy nor was it a family secret. Nope, it was the classic 1980's Bacardi Rum Cake recipe. It was moist, boozy, delicious, and had the shelf life of a fruit cake. I loved making it with my mom. She let me handle the cake, but the making the glaze was on her. In either case, I loved it and was hoping for the same awesomeness in this box.
Unfortunately, that wasn't in this box.
No awesomeness. Heck, Bourbon is the last ingredient, but I should have known something was up before reading the ingredients.
I've been IDed for buying wine, Brandy Beans, the Chocolate Liqueur Cherries, and the Boozy Assortment of Truffles. I tell people I'll be celebrating the 16th anniversary of my 21st birthday when asked how old I am.
This had less boozy flavor than the Truffle Mousse Pate. Neither the purchase of this nor the pate required me to show ID.
So what you have here is a subtly spiced cake. There is a hint of smoky flavor, but that is where it ends. If you are wondering, yes, I tried the batter. I'm not saying you should do this. This is what we did as kids. I haven't died yet. And no, I'm not endorsing you do this. There is salmonella out there.
So, I knew the bourbon flavor had to be brought in. Consider this cake BYOB- Bring Your Own Bourbon.
The batter is thick, but not pound cake thick.
I did modify the recipe a touch- I didn't use a Bundt pan. I chose mini cupcakes because I don't own a mini bundt pan. I also opted for the pecan cake filling. It would add a few more tablespoons of bourbon.
Why mini cupcakes? Sometimes you just want a bite. Sometimes you remember that one relative who you asked you how big of a piece you'd like, you'd answer a "sliver" and they would plop a huge pieces on your plate. Then you were awkwardly stuck with a slice you literally only wanted a bite of.
The mini cupcakes took between 18-20 minutes which was a welcomed time savings as well.
Now, if you follow the optional cake filling, it makes a lot. I had lots leftover, but it would probably work better in a bundt pan.
What came out of the oven was a moist cake that wasn't bourbon-y. The filling didn't even lend much bourbon flavor either.
But what pulls it together is the glaze. That is literally where all the bourbon flavor was. It makes sense as that is the only bourbon that wasn't cooked, so you are left with the straight out of the bottle taste with the addition of butter and powdered sugar.
Overall, it made a moist cake, but I didn't knock it out of the park for me. In fact you can probably accomplish the same thing with regular cake mix and the same glaze recipe of powdered sugar, bourbon, and butter.
For $3.49, I bought 2 boxes.
I made the second box in a bundt pan. So here are a few quick notes about this: the cake is still moist but lacks the bourbon flavor, the barely filled my bundt pan halfway and didn't rise all that much. The optional filling is absolutely worth doing to bulk up the cake as well as add a nominal amount of bourbon flavor, but once again, the bourbon flavor is really from the glaze. And yes, there is a lot of glazes. I'm secretly hoping this cake will age well like my beloved rum cake. I'll bump this up from my original 2.5 stars out of 5 to a solid 3.33. The dimensions made a difference. That being said, I'm not sure I would attempt a mini bundt.
Would I buy this again? It's just alright. This may still need some modification on your end to really make this shine. If I didn't have the time to make a rum cake, this might actually make for a decent alternative.
Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!
The box of Trader Joe's Bourbon Cake Mix:
Which by the way, the box has similar packaging as Trader Joe's Bourbon:
Calories and ingredients
Out of the package you get:
After being baked and glazed as mini cupcakes you get:
Pictures from the 2nd cake in a bundt pan:
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The Bottom Line
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Trader Joe's Bourbon Cake Mix
Product Name: Trader Joe's Bourbon Cake Mix
Product Description: Trader Joe's Bourbon Cake Mix is a mildly spiced cake mix with the final ingredient being Bourbon. Unless you add more.
Trader Joe's Bourbon Cake Mix is a basic cake mix that will get your inner Julia Child excited, only to be dashed by realizing Bourbon is the final ingredient. To which most of the bourbon flavor will found in the glaze.
- Easy to assemble
- Ready in a reasonable amount of time.
- Cake was moist
- No ID required
- Nut filling helps this a lot, but might not make this dessert for everyone.
- As is, tastes more like the "flavored with other natural flavors" than bourbon
- Did I mention Bourbon is the LAST ingredient?