Caribbean cuisine is rich, flavorful and diverse, so it should be no surprise that Caribbean desserts are equally wonderful. From indulgent rum cakes and flan to sweet and spicy tamarind balls, you will find something to love on this list of common, authentic Caribbean desserts.
1. Caribbean black cake (rum cake)
This is a classic Caribbean Christmas dessert that is sweet but dense, dark and boozy. It is made with rum-soaked fruits like prunes, raisins, cherries and candied peels, browning, spices and the typical cake ingredients. Once done, the cake is brushed with more alcohol to make it a cheerful holiday treat.
You can try my black cake recipe here or check out my video on Youtube.
Flan, also called crème caramel, is a sweet, creamy, baked custard that has a caramel topping. It is especially popular in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean like Cuba and Puerto Rico. The caramel is made with sugar and water and the custard is often made with eggs, condensed milk, coconut milk, and vanilla. The dessert is baked in a water bath, then cooled and flipped over to allow the caramel to flow all over the flan.
Fudge is a super sweet, dense, hard candy that is often served or sold as small squares. It is made with condensed milk, sugar, butter and flavorings like coconut milk, vanilla, chocolate and guava puree. The milk and sugar are cooked on low heat until the soft ball stage (of candy making), then the heat is turned off and the butter is whisked in until the mixture becomes matte and loses its shine. The fudge mixture is poured into a mold and left to set before cutting.
4. Guava cheese
This delightful Caribbean vegan dessert is sweet and has a soft, jelly-like texture. It is made with fresh guavas that are steamed, mashed or blended, strained and cooked with sugar until it comes together into a soft ball. Like fudge, the guava mixture is flattened in a mold and allowed to cool and set before cutting.
5. Tamarind balls
Tamarind balls or tamarind candy are sugary treats made with tamarind pulp, sugar and sometimes Caribbean green seasoning and pepper. This vegan Caribbean dessert can have tart, sweet, acidic, and spicy flavors and can last for months outside (and inside) the fridge. I would often make this as a child by rubbing tamarind pulp in warm water before adding seasonings and lots of sugar until the pulp can be rolled into a ball.
Here’s my simple tamarind balls recipe for you to try or check out my video.
6. Sugar cake (or grater cake)
Depending on the island, this treat is sometimes called grater cake or pink on top. It is a sweet candy made with freshly grated coconut, spiced syrup and a little red or pink food coloring. In Jamaica, grater cake is made by layering the pink coconut syrup mixture on top of a batch without any food coloring so there is a white and pink contrast. Once dry and set, the layers stick together and are cut into squares for serving. In T&T, only one layer is served.
Gizzada or pinch-me-round is a popular Jamaican pastry. It consists of pastry dough that has been cut and pinched to the top to form a circular tart shell. The shell is filled with a mixture of freshly grated coconut and a spiced caramel sauce. The gizzada is baked before serving.
8. Coconut drops
Coconut drops are made in different ways throughout the Caribbean. In Jamaica, freshly chopped coconut is boiled in a spiced sugar syrup until it becomes very thick. The mixture is dropped onto a baking sheet and left to cool completely before enjoying. In T&T, however, finely grated coconut is mixed with flour, butter, sugar and other cake ingredients. The batter is dropped on a baking sheet and baked in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes.
9. Peanut drops (or nut cake)
Whether you call it peanut brittle or nut cake, peanut drops are wonderful sweet snacks filled with roasted peanuts that are held together by a hardened spiced syrup. It is made in a similar way to Jamaican coconut drops. For peanut brittle and nut cake though, the mixture is spread thinly on a baking tray and left to harden before breaking apart.
What other Caribbean desserts do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.