Dessert: It’s considered an indulgence, a splurge of precious calories or food points, carefully logged into apps, to be earned with steps. But vacation should be a time to get away from such nonsense and indulge in some of life’s sweeter pleasures. After all, a meal is not complete until you’ve had a bite of something sweet. On Grand Cayman, you’ll find dessert offerings delectable and varied enough to tempt any palate.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
One could say that sticky toffee pudding is to Grand Cayman as Key lime pie is to Key West — a signature dish. Sticky toffee pudding is a quintessentially British dessert and reminds one instantly of the area’s European connection. Not a pudding in the American sense, here the word simply refers to dessert as the Brits use it. Toffee is made by caramelising sugar or molasses with butter to create a sauce, which is poured over moist chocolate sponge cake and often paired with finely chopped dates and vanilla custard or ice cream. The result is decadent, sweet, and — as the name implies — sticky. It’s the sort of dessert you’ll want to leave room for, if you’re wise.
Sticky toffee pudding is the signature dessert of Grand Cayman and, as such, should be eaten in its pure, original form at least once. Calypso Grill on Morgan’s Harbour serves one of the best and most traditional sticky toffee puddings around. Famous on the island, chef George Fowler’s cookbook is even named Going Down Sticky Toffee Lane. Enjoy this traditional British confection whilst soaking up Caribbean breezes on the restaurant’s wide deck overlooking the iconic harbour. It’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
Tuck into another traditional pudding at Tukka Restaurant and Bar. Chef Ron Hargrave has brought the flavours and dishes of his native Australia and fused them with Caribbean cuisine. Here you’ll find chef Hargrave’s take on a traditional sticky toffee pudding. Come early as this not-to-be-missed expert rendition of buttery toffee sauce sells out quickly, but stay for the 5:30 p.m. beach-side feeding of the massive Caribbean frigate birds.
For a twist on the traditional, head over to George Town Yacht Club. Here you’ll find cassava sticky toffee pudding. The South American root, known as yuca in Spanish, is used to make tapioca. At the George Town Yacht Club the cassava is grated and then the sticky toffee batter is added on top. Made with coconut milk, cinnamon and brown sugar and served warm with homemade vanilla ice cream, the Yacht Club offers a distinctly Caribbean twist on the British dessert. With a shuttle running to and from the airport, the Yacht Club is the perfect place to whilst away a flight delay — and the perfect excuse to squeeze in one more dessert before heading home.
Whilst there are few who would say they don’t like dessert, one can admit that everyone’s favourite course tends to toe the line. No matter how creative the menu, when it’s time for the sweet stuff, offerings usually stick to crowd-pleasing favourites. If only chefs would turn their culinary expertise to expanding our confectionary world. Luckily for those looking to take their sweet tooth for a walk on the wild side, Grand Cayman has a few spots doing just that.
Whilst some restaurants offer two or three basic dessert options, The Wharf offers an entire dessert menu. From banana flambé tres leche to berries strudel bonbon, there’s no need to settle here for the mundane. A truly unique creation is the coconut ice cream sandwich. Smooth coconut ice cream is layered between two rich chocolate layers. All made from scratch, in-house, the dish would be decadent to the point of heaviness if it were not for the tropical mango pineapple salad ladled on top. The bright acids of the fruit cut through the nutty creaminess of the coconut ice cream for a dessert that is utterly Cayman and utterly unforgettable. Finally, it’s topped with a delicate Tulip pastry.
When it comes to creative desserts, the brand new YARA at Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman will have inspired offerings. The menu will stretch the imagination, specialising in taking the familiar and turning it on its head. “Staying true to form, YARA will be serving some familiar desserts in an unfamiliar way,” says executive chef Dylan Benoit. “Our yuzu cotton cheesecake is made in the Japanese style, which gives it a lighter texture than traditional cheesecake. This dish features the bright flavour of yuzu fruit, complemented by a Cayman sea-salted caramel sauce and local starfruit. Another highlight is our take on a Key lime pie, the kaffir lime pie, which is created with peculiar looking, but incredibly aromatic kaffir limes, complemented by a coconut semifreddo, mango pearls and pink guava coulis.”
By the Slice
Cheesecake is not the kind of dessert one indulges in on a weekday evening after work, no matter what The Golden Girls would have you believe. At Ragazzi Ristorante and Pizzeria on Seven Mile Beach you’ll find the mango cheesecake. Bits of the orange fruit are blended throughout the cheesecake filling, bright sparks of tropical flavour breaking up the heady, cream-cheesy decadence. It’s topped with a layer of mango puree for some extra punch and drizzled with strawberry sauce. The thin biscuit crust is a simple creation of butter and sugar meant to merely hold the dessert together, not to distract.
You can even take a detour to Mexico — gastronomically speaking. Casa 43 Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar offers some of the most authentic Mexican fare to be found in the Islands. Casa 43’s own chef Liberia Torres Aranda has brought the traditional tres leches cake recipe from Oaxaca to Grand Cayman. Also known as pan tres leches, the confection consists of a light airy cake-like sponge cake soaked in three different types of milk, hence the name: evaporated, condensed and heavy cream.
The wedding cake is the sweetness and delight of that special day in a tangible, edible form. Finding the right cake can be a challenge, unless you’re getting married on Grand Cayman. Here, you’ll find no shortage of outstanding bakeries creating eye-popping, delectable cakes for every style and preference.
Grand Old House on the southwest corner of the island is just that, a former plantation house turned into an elegant restaurant and wedding venue. The kitchen at Grand Old House prepares nearly everything in-house — and this applies to the wedding cakes. Whether you’re looking for a resplendent, multi-tiered creation to complement your lavish “I dos,” or a mini-cake to quietly commemorate more private proceedings, the chefs at Grand Old House will create the perfect confection. Never fear, there are vegan and gluten-free options available as well.
The Cake Studio does one thing and does it well: cakes. Their sugar flowers are their speciality, draping from the top tier to the bottom in a floral fall. Or choose something island apropos and have starfish and sand dollars clinging to the icing. The Cake Studio will bake your creative desires, and they’ll bake it to last. People flock to the Cayman Islands for their beautiful beaches and warm, tropical climes, but those planning a wedding might not consider what all that balmy weather does to frosting. The Cake Studio makes sure their gorgeous creations can stand up to the heat and humidity, so they will look just as delectable at the end of the wedding as they do at the beginning. Now, if only the same could be said for your hair and makeup.
If you’re looking a bit outside the box for your wedding cake, Mise En Place in George Town might be the bakery for you. These modern, fondant-style cakes will have your guests Instagramming and commenting on your creative choice. From delicately “embroidered” leaves to massive rose blooms so real you’ll give them a sniff, Mise En Place will take your signature flair and turn it out in sweet style.
Author: Rebecca McBane