Caribbean culture has many distinctive elements that make it unique. In my opinion, is the perfect marriage between our African and Spanish ancestry that makes it dramatic and theatrical while full of color, rhythm, and joy. When it comes to food, those characteristics transfer with the same intensity of color, drama and flavor.
As my grandmother’s helper growing up, I learned to knead, beat and bake ingredients endemic to the island. Then, I could not imagine gastronomy that wouldn’t involve coconut, plantains, bananas, and tropical fruits. During my adult life getting to know other Caribbean people I’ve learn that our gastronomy is very similar, made with simple, everyday ingredients that in other parts of the world are considered exotic.
The majority of Caribbean dishes are strong and flavorful. Keep in mind the constant heat and long days call for a gastronomy that can lift you through the day. Caribbean Desserts are no exception; many of them use combinations that will really test your taste buds and even your imagination.
I think Caribbean desserts in particular have the power of transporting you to a place of relaxation and pampering; the intensity of flavors and aromas combined leave you wanting more. Here are 10 Caribbean desserts that will take you to paradise and back in a spoonful of delight.
Flan de Ciruela ~ Prune Flan 1 of 10
Flan is one of those desserts that are enjoyed all through Latin America and each region adds it magical touch. I love this version my mother makes that has coconut and is topped with prunes to add to the sweetness. Foto credit: MamiCool.
Arroz con Leche ~ Rice Pudding 2 of 10
This is another one of those desserts that have many versions in Latin America. In the Dominican Republic, however, not only is eaten as a dessert. That can be made for dinner on any given day. The combination of milks (cow and coconut) makes it truly special. Photo credit: SazÃ³n Boricua.
Dulce de Coco ~ Coconut in Heavy Syrup 3 of 10
This is my all-times favorite; the combination of pineapple and coconut makes this an irresistible treat for me. It contains sweet potato, which gives it a smooth, creamy texture. You can enjoy it hot, right out of the pot or chilled in the fridge for a complete delight. Photo credit: MamiCool.
BudiÂn de Pan ~ Bread Pudding 4 of 10
Bread pudding is made internationally and people love it because it gives purpose to old bread that would otherwise go to waste. However, this recipe comes from Puerto Rico, a family recipe that has been enjoyed for generations. Photo credit: SazÃ³n Boricua.
Habichuelas con Dulce ~ Sweet Beans 5 of 10
Another favorite of mine, straight from the Dominican cuisine, sweet beans challenge the imagination of many, since it strikes them as something odd. I have to say, the conversion rate once people try it is over 95. Sweet beans are usually made during lent and it is customary to take some to your neighbors when you make it. Photo credit: SazÃ³n Boricua.
Mermelada de Mango ~ Mango Marmalade 6 of 10
Mango is one of those wonderful fruits that lend itself for a wide array of desserts. Having it with cookies or bread with this marmalade will definitely be a treat during breakfast or at snack time. Photo credit: SazÃ³n Boricua.
Tres Leches con Coco ~ Coconut Three Milks Cake 7 of 10
If you like cakes and have naver tried Tres Leches you are surely missing out. This version of Tres Leches from Puerto Rico adds our core element, coconut, to give a very special and creamy flavor to it. My mom's recipe, however, substitutes one of the milks for ponche which is an eggnog with alcohol they sale in the Caribbean. Photo credit: SazÃ³n Boricua.
Besitos de Coco ~ Coconut Macaroon 8 of 10
Again, the protagonist is coconut. This dessert is very famous in Puerto Rico due to its texture and delicious flavor. Awesome idea to surprise your guests with an exotic treat that is also very easy to make! Photo credit: SazÃ³n Boricua.
Mermelada de Pina ~ Pineapple Marmalade 9 of 10
Another delicious treat for snack time or breakfast; making your own pineapple mamalade is not only easy but will allow you to taste the freshness and preservative-free goodness of this sweet delight. Photo Credit: SazÃ³n Boricua.
Bizcocho Dominicano ~ Dominican Cake 10 of 10
Lastly, I have to include Dominican Cake. I think many would agree, no one makes cakes like Dominicans. The moisture, softness, flavor and fillings give you baking perfection. If you've never try this one, look for a Dominican bakery in your area, I'm sure you will not be disappointed. Photo credit: MamiCool.