The Shining | Red Velvet Rum Cake
"Solitude can be damaging in itself. Better for a man to have his family with him."
Happy almost Halloween, everybody! When trying to choose the next spooky October read, I couldn’t help but return to Stephen King. His name is basically synonymous with horror after all. So this week, I’m reviewing “The Shining”— the book that really secured him a spot on the horror genre map when it was published in 1977.
Jack Torrance, the main character of “The Shining,” is out on his luck lately. He aspires to be a writer, but really he’s just a recovering alcoholic, a terrible husband and an even worse father, who was recently fired from his teaching job for losing his temper. When the book opens, Jack is interviewing for a position as an off-season caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. The manager is worried about giving Jack the job for reasons other than Jack’s less-than-stellar job history. Not only will Jack and his family be trapped, all alone in this hotel once the winter snow begins to fall, but the isolation once caused a past caretaker to murder his wife and kids in a drunken rage. Jack ensures the manager that everything will be fine and takes the job, secretly hoping the time together will help repair the damage his alcoholism has done to his family. No pressure or anything.
Things start getting weird almost immediately—go figure. Jack’s son Danny begins to realize he has powers, like reading people’s minds and seeing premonitions. He keeps this information from his parents, but becomes close with the hotel’s chef, who has the same powers and helps teach Danny how to use them. However, Danny’s powers soon begin affecting the bad mojo at work within the hotel, increasing the supernatural activity, possessing Jack and convincing him to attack his family—which, if you recall, is the literal opposite of what he wanted to happen.
Just like King’s “It,” this novel is about more than ghosts and possession. “The Shining” weaves in themes of family, isolation, drugs and alcohol, not to mention hella violence and child abuse, all masterfully played out in your classic haunted house story. The pacing of Jack's meltdown is superbly slow, and the entire time you feel as if you're going insane right along with him.
There are plenty of chilling lines in "The Shining," but none are more well-known than the single iconic backwardly-spelled word: redrum. So I decided to make cupcakes that were both red and rum-filled! These red velvet rum cake cupcakes are topped with rum and cream cheese icing and drizzled in strawberry dessert "blood splatter."
Red Velvet Rum Cake:
1½ cups sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 Tbs unsweetened cocoa
4 Tbs red food coloring
½ cup + 1 tsp Sailor Jerry Rum (divided)
4 Tbs powdered buttermilk
½ cup water
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp distilled white vinegar
Cream Cheese Rum Frosting
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ shots of Sailor Jerry Rum
4 cups of powdered sugar
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ cup sugar
Juice from 1 lime
Red frosting (Optional--I used it to write REDRUM.)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy, then beat in the eggs.
3. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, food coloring, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add to the batter and mix well.
4. Mix buttermilk, water and 1tsp of rum together in a measuring cup. Slowly add that mixture and flour to the batter. Combine well.
5. Add baking soda, salt, vinegar and remaining rum. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined and batter is smooth.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, before moving to a wire rack.
7. While waiting for the cakes to cook and cool, prepare your boozy frosting! In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter, and Sailor Jerry Rum.
8. Slowly beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time, scraping down the sides as needed, until completely smooth.
9. Once cupcakes are completely cooled, frost and place in the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes.
10. Now for your strawberry syrup! Combine strawberries, sugar, and lime juice in a small saucepan over medium heat.
11. Bring to a simmer while mashing the strawberries against the side of the pan with a fork. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
12. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl or measuring cup. Tip: Use the back of a spoon to press on solids and get the maximum amount of liquid out.
13. Discard solids and place strawberry syrup in the refrigerator to cool and thicken up (approximately 20-30 minutes).
14. Pour the strawberry mixture over the cupcakes and decorate with red frosting if you like!
”Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”
“Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.”
“Once, during the drinking phase, Wendy had accused him of desiring his own destruction but not possessing the necessary moral fiber to support a full-blown deathwish. So he manufactured ways in which other people could do it, lopping a piece at a time off himself and their family.”
“A lot of folks, they got a little bit of shine to them. They don't even know it. But they always seem to show up with flowers when their wives are feelin’ blue with the monthlies, they do good on school tests they don't even study for, they got a good idea how people are feelin’ as soon as they walk into a room.”
“And then, eyes widening in horror, he saw the word REDRUM reflecting dimly from the glass dome, now reflected twice. And he saw that it spelled MURDER.”