Caribbean Black Cake
A rich, dark, fruit cake, Black Cake is also called Rum Cake, Great Cake and just Fruit Cake. It's a special occasion dessert because of its expensive ingredients and how long it takes to make. In Hercules' time this cake was made in the North American colonies in a method closer to the original English Christmas Cake in which the fruit was soaked in brandy.
Cooks of the 18th century kitchen would have been familiar with this cake and would have dried fruits soaking in brandy for many months in anticipation of making this cake during the Christmas holidays. In the Caribbean the cake evolved to use local ingredients--notably rum--to soak the dried fruits.
Like many recipes of the day, Black Cake reflects the closeness of the trade of goods and ideas between the Caribbean and the North American colonies engaged in the Atlantic Slave Trade from the 17th century through to the early 20th. In the mid 19th-century Emily Dickinson was known for making Black Cake and a recipe for the confection exists in her hand. Her entire New England society and milieu had been tied up in trade of goods and human cargo for hundreds of years.
My recipe for Black Cake is from my first book Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago.