International dishes are becoming part of the growing foodie trend many people seemingly cannot get enough of. Every week, people tune into their favorite cooking and travel shows to check out the latest culinary delights from locals as well as abroad. This trend is also influencing more people to experiment with different flavors and cooking techniques. Of the many global flavors, the Caribbean has its own unique palette.
Many recipes from the islands have an aromatic sweetness mixed in with savory spice that can’t compare to any other country or region. If one were to attempt making this at home, many dishes can be adjusted for the peppery heat that comes from scotch bonnet peppers. Oxtails with peas and rice, vegetable patties, fried plantains, and Jamaican fruit cake make the perfect dinner spread.
Also known as black cake, for its dark brown color, is quite different than the American version. Most cakes of this kind contain a generous amount of brandy and dark rum, along with a wide variety of fruits like cherries, pineapples, and raisins. Not only are these the least likely to be regifted during the winter holidays but they can be quite the conversation starter at social gatherings.
Baking for the Holidays
Making this cake at home is fairly easy and some recipes vary drastically when it comes to preparation. Some bakers may substitute the alcohol with a natural rum flavor, which is recommended when serving at the holiday office party or to young people. While some credit the rum for the moist texture, there are many substitutes that can be added instead.
To make a spicy cake, it helps to use fresh cinnamon, clove, or a pumpkin pie spice blend. Some home cooks like to ground their spices right before mixing in but it’s not necessary. For a more intense flavor profile, adding a few teaspoons of molasses to the liquid mixture will give the batter a nice ebony color.
Although some recipes will use candied fruit similar to holiday fruit cakes made in the States, some people like to soak fresh fruit in rum overnight (or longer) before adding to the batter. Usually, a mix of dried fruits like dates, pineapple, and raisins gives the cake a slightly dense texture. The fruits are sometimes chopped a little finer than the American version, which normally uses halved or chunky-style fruits. It’s not uncommon for some home bakers to top off the cake with nuts and/or candied cherry halves.
Making an Adult Cake
If a person wants to make a tipsy version, there are no hard rules. Some recipes call for rum only while others may add wine instead of brandy. For a more intense flavor, a cup of vanilla-flavored rum can take a cake to the next level. For full potency, it’s best to add alcohol to a cooled cake and let it sit overnight, otherwise, the alcohol will cook away if it’s only added to the batter.
Most people like to have this dessert with a warm cup of coffee or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. For those who love their sweets but are limiting their portions, this cake does well with freezing up to six months. It also makes a nice winter snack.
Cuisine that reminds people of a tranquil paradise is often a big hit at social gatherings or any dinner theme. Meals don’t have to be spicy in order to be authentic but when dishes have a little spice kick, it’s a nice surprise for most virgin tastebuds. By looking up different recipes, kitchen cooks can make adjustments as they see fit.