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Sweets For Your Sweetie

By Melanie Reffes

Dessert with a view at St. James’s Club in Antigua. Photo Credit St. James’s Club

Start the New Year in style with a decadent dessert and two forks. Sharing a sweet treat with your sweetie is as much a part of a Caribbean vacation as a massage in a ritzy spa and a cozy night in a spacious suite. Ditch the diet and dig into our couple-pleasing menu of the sunniest sweet treats in the Caribbean.

Chocolate Dreams

Sweetest suites in St. Lucia at Jade Mountain. Photo Credit Jade Mountain Resort

Suites and sweets are the order of the day at the St. Lucia resort that salutes the sky high Piton Mountains. Jade Mountain is not only big on style; the resort on the southwest coast is also big on chocolate with tours of their organic chocolate estate, chocolate-infused massages, chocolate martinis and choco-wine pairings. Under the watchful eye of Chef Allen Susser, enjoy an afternoon in the Chocolate Lab where you’ll find a hands-covered-in-chocolate couple-bonding chocolate class. For diehards, Chocolate Alchemy package invites with chocolate-themed breakfast in bed, chocolatey spa treatments, tour of the Emerald Cocoa Estate and truffle-making lessons. www.jademountain.com

Jade Mountain in St. Lucia is a chocoholics paradise. Photo Credit Jade Mountain

Mingle with kindred spirits at the Casa Cortes Choco Bar, Puerto Rico’s first and only chocolate restaurant. Owned by the Cortes chocolate-making family; the restaurant is a chocolate tour de force in a turn-of-the-century yellow house at 210 Calle San Francisco in Old San Juan. Get there early as the sweet spot on the cobblestone street is packed on weekends with hungry brunch-goers digging into cheese and chocolate grilled on brioche bread, hot chocolate so good you’ll feel like a kid again, churros (deep-fried Spanish donuts) for dipping in a shot glass of dark chocolate that shares a plate with a dark chocolate square and a chunk of cheddar for a burst of color. Campy art on the walls keeps the chocolate theme along with antique metal molds used by the Cortés family since they first made the sweet stuff back in 1929. www.casacortespr.com

Enjoy an all-chocolate menu at Casa Cortes in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo Credit Melanie Reffes

At the first interactive chocolate factory tour in The Bahamas, you’ll suit up in coveralls and a hair net as the Chocolatier at Graycliff Hotel on West Hill Street in Nassau takes chocolate lovers into the factory for a look-see at the process that turns cocoa beans into yummy treats. Tours are offered Monday to Saturday at 9 am and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 3 pm. For couples who like to eat and drink, ‘Chocolate & Spirits Pairing’ is a must-take class Monday to Saturday at 11:15 am. www.graycliff.com

Cake and Eat It Too

In Nevis, heart-shaped coconut pancakes at Coconuts. Photo Credit Nisbet Plantation

There’s plenty of passion in Nevis at Nisbet Plantation; the Caribbean’s only historic plantation inn on the beach. Kick start breakfast with heart-shaped coconut pancakes, cuddle up at Sea Breeze for lunch and for dinner, it’s time for Pastry Chef Danilo Salonga’s Chilled Passion Fruit Cheesecake in the Great House. Celebrating the fruit that grows on the tiny isle across the channel from St. Kitts, menus include beaucoup de passionfruit and forty varieties of mangoes that call the island home. http://nisbetplantation.com

In the Cayman Islands, Tortuga Rum Cake is a popular island sweet. Photo Credit Tortuga Rum Co.

At the top of the dessert hit parade, rum and cake are one happy pairing. Primo for a picnic on the beach in Grand Cayman or a late night nibble in your hotel room, Tortuga Rum Cake made its debut in the Cayman Islands thirty years ago and is still using oak barrel aged Tortuga Gold Rum in the original family recipe. Kitchen-tested and couple-approved, flavors topping the hit parade include chocolate rum fudge and rum-splashed key lime pie; both sold in those familiar six-sided boxes that can be shipped anywhere courtesy of a unique vacuum sealing process. For those in Grand Cayman, the bakery hands out plenty of samples to hungry visitors who stop by. www.tortugarumcakes.com

Spoonful of Sugar

In Jamaica, cheese cake is divine at the new Jewel Grande. Photo Credit Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa

The newest resort to open on Jamaica’s Rose Hall estate, Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa is a welcome addition to the Jewel family of resorts. All-inclusive on the northwest coast, the resort welcomes with couple’s massages and a steam and sauna with outdoor soaking pools. Keeping hunger at bay, Austrian-born Chef Adrian Weichenberger honed his culinary chops at Bermuda’s Hamilton Princess and on the luxury cruise liner Seabourn. Twelve on-site choices run the gamut from white table cloth service and poolside casual to sweet snacks at The Sugar Cane Coffee & Ice Cream parlour. www.jewelgrande.com

Antigua voted Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination. Photo Credit St. James’s Club & Villas

Awarded ‘Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination’ at the World Travel Awards, Antigua is also one of the sweetest islands with juicy mangoes, sweet pineapples and house-made ice cream scooped at St. James’s Club. Tucked away on the southeast coast, the all-inclusive is all about authentic island fare at the airy Rainbow Garden, easy-breezy Coco Beach and The Docksider accessorized with steelpan players. Popular with those tying the knot, Elite’s Antigua Wedding package includes a bouquet of extras from a wedding cake and bottle of wine to boutonniere for the groom, decorated perch for a ceremony and a best man and maid of honor, for those who may have forgotten to bring them along. www.stjamesclubantigua.com

The sweetest treats in Tobago, Bene Balls (also made in sticks and squares) are sticky bites of molasses, brown sugar and sesame seeds. Sold in corner bakeries and at seaside stalls (note to connoisseurs: we like the treats sold on Store Bay Beach), the crunchy jawbreakers – named for an African word that means ‘sesame’ – are a popular stowaway for a sugar hit on the flight home. www.visittobago.gov.tt

Bene Balls are divine at Store Bay Beach in Tobago. Photo Credit T & T Tourism

Across the pond in Trinidad, warm chocolate pudding at the Waterfront Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency is modern twist on a retro-favorite. Made with the island hooch called Barbardine, the artsy dessert is paired with fruity ice cream and pina colada compote. www.trinidad.hyatt.com

Just Desserts

Straight up without ice is how a Brandy Alexander cocktail is served and when Senior Chocolate Liqueur is the main attraction rather than the more humdrum crème de cacao, it is divine dessert in a glass. Distilled at Landhuis Chobolobo near Fort Amsterdam in Curacao, the chocolate liqueur is flavored with the dried bitter peel of the Laraha orange unique to the island. With a bouquet of cocoa and notes of orange, cinnamon and ginger, the potent blend morphs a cocktail into a choc-tail with a single shot. Free tours of the family-run distillery are offered with generous samples of the chocolate variety and other sip-worthy flavors like coffee and rum raisin. The Chobolobo Café invites with liqueur-infused snacks and in the gift shop, stock up on souvenirs you won’t find at home like travel-size pouches of chocolate covered passionfruit, chocolate bites gussied up with liqueur centers and bottles of Senior Chocolate Liqueur. www.curacaoliqueur.com

Chocolate Mousse at Mount Cinnamon in Grenada guarantees sweet dreams. Photo Credit Mount Cinnamon

In Grenada, Mount Cinnamon is hillside poetry with rainbow-colored décor in the suites and villas. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and mountainous shoreline, the resort is romance-central with a poolside cocktail bar, Savvy’s Restaurant, Cinnamon Spa and Dive Grenada where couples can book underwater adventures on Grand Anse Beach. Taking sweet advantage of the cocoa that grows on the island, Chef Karim works his magic with his Chocolate Mousse dressed up with a splash of Kahlua and layers of minty whipped cream. “We pride ourselves on personalized service,” said Mark Kitchen, general manager, “and arrange all requests couples may have from a private beach dinner to tours around Grenada to discover our stunning natural attractions, scuba diving, gorgeous waterfalls and the lush rainforest.” For fans of the sweet stuff, Grenada Chocolate Festival is on the calendar from May 11 – 19 with plenty of chocolate-infused beer and rum, shopping at chocolate bazaars, chocolate massages and bonbon sampling at the Grenada Chocolate Company. www.mountcinnamongrenadahotel.com

Yes, you can make this at home

Chef Karim’s Chocolate Mousse

(courtesy Mount Cinnamon, Grenada)
18 oz dark chocolate
1 oz unsalted butter
4 tbsp Water
2 tbsp Kahlua
3 ea separated eggs
½ cup white sugar
½ cup heavy cream

Place chocolate, butter, Kahlua and water in a bowl and melt over a double boiler. Separate yolks from egg and fold into melted chocolate. Whip heavy cream and add to melted chocolate. Whisk egg whites and sugar. Fold into chocolate mixture and chill for 4 hours.

Minty Cream
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp mint extract

Place mint extract cream and sugar in a bowl and whisk until a still peak forms. In a small wine glass, pipe layers of chocolate and minty cream alternatively, two layers each. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles or shavings. Place mint leaf in center.

Grenada’s chocolate ice cream is perfectly share-able. Photo Credit Arthur Daniel

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Sweet Treats For The New Year