Oh, John Adams. It’s the men like Adams whom I most adore. History hasn’t been all that kind to him. He’s probably one of the first people that we learn about in history class more as a secondary character than a primary one. We all know he was the second president (right? right?!?). We know that he was vice president to George Washington. The vice presidency was a position that chaffed him. He described it as, “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived.”
It should be no surprise that the position wasn’t the perfect match for him. John Adams was an opinionated man. He was feisty and fiery. I have never encountered the word cantankerous more than I have reading about John Adams. In fact, at times, Adams comes off as downright cranky.
John Adams wasn’t from Boston, but he was a Massachusetts man. His home was a town then called Braintree (now called Quincy). No doubt, as a man from this region, Adams would have been quite familiar with Boston Baked Beans. This dish was popular throughout Massachusetts and even further throughout New England. Considering both the area’s Puritan heritage, and that Adams himself was a direct descendant of the Puritans that settled in the area, it is likely that John Adams was quite familiar with Boston Baked Beans. The Puritans kept Sunday as the sabbath. As a part of this, they were to do no work on this day. The Boston Baked Beans, slow-cooked over a fire for several hours, allowed them to both obey the Sabbath and to have a hot meal on Sundays.
Molasses was abundant in Massachusetts because of triangular trade, another term likely first introduced to most of us in a basic American history class. The term refers to trade that happens among three ports or regions. The Atlantic slave trade provides an example, perhaps the best known one. In this case the vertices were Europe West Africa and Caribbean or American colonies. Sometimes New England fulfilled the England vertex in the trade triangle.
For example, sugar from the Caribbean would come to New England (or Europe). This sugar was distilled into rum. Here, molasses was a side-product. The profits from the sugar sale were used to purchase manufactured goods which were shipped to West Africa and bartered for slaves. The slaves were brought to the Caribbean to be sold to sugar planters. The profit from this sale was used to buy more sugar which was shipped to Europe (or New England).
The above is the long way to say that molasses was abundant in Massachusetts. Then, people did what people do, and made use of an abundant resource. Because of all of the above, I knew that molasses had to be a star player in Adams’ cupcake. Since rum was the reason for the availability of molasses, rum seemed to be the natural compliment.
The Boston Baked Bean is named after the flavors that inspired it. The cupcake part has molasses, brown sugar and clove. It is topped by a spiced rum buttercream frosting.
Here, the frosting made the cake. When I tasted the cupcake before frosting it, I thought it was okay, but I was preparing myself to write about how when you’re trying something new, that you can’t expect to have success every time or something like that. When I added the frosting, I found myself wondering just how I could justify eating more of these cupcakes. Obscene noises may have been observed.