Cravings of Expatriates on Grand Cayman Island: Isn’t It Always About Chocolate?

by Anne Evans

My husband Rick, cat “Smudge”, and I are now Expatriates on Grand Cayman of The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory. The island has been our forever home since 2021 after transitioning from the US. Wow, how beautiful is this Island!

As a lifelong baker and foodie, the challenges of being an Expat quickly became apparent. The ingredients and the way I bake and cook needed some modifications because everything I’m used to having is just not available here. This blog will lead you to ideas for recreating the baked goods and recipes that you crave, no matter where you’re living (or dreaming about living).

Chocoholics: How to Feed Your Obsession on Grand Cayman

Let’s start with chocolate in The Cayman Islands. Quality bar chocolate can’t really be purchased here, but the bar chocolate that is available is expensive! You’ll have to make do with Waitrose chocolate snack bars imported from the UK. (As a British Overseas Territory, any product imported from the UK will be less expensive, likely due to reduced import duty fees.)

The lack of affordable chocolate means that quality chocolate desserts are incredibly expensive on The Cayman Islands. If you are a Foodie in search of chocolate, be prepared to pay approximately $7.93 in US dollars, or $6.50 KYD (“KYD” meaning Cayman Islands Dollars), for a tiny Brownie square (estimated 2 oz; 1″x1″x1.5″) at a bakery or in a high-end grocery store.

Most low- to moderate-priced restaurants do not offer Chocolate Desserts! You can certainly find them at Grand Cayman’s more renowned restaurants and resorts – e.g., “Seven” at the Ritz Carlton on 7 Mile Beach (with star chef Eric Ripert). A Chocolate Souffle or a Black Forest Cake is available for KYD$16 +18% gratuity (approx. US$23.02) per serving! (These are the desserts in which you order one with multiple forks and everyone shares . . .)

If you are a baker like me and want to find a solution to creating homemade chocolate creations, I can suggest 2 options:

1] Use recipes that rely on Hershey’s Natural Cocoa which is readily available at a far more reasonable price than Chocolate Bars. That’s especially true if you visit a store like our local “Cost U Less” on Grand Cayman to search for bargains.

Be sure to sift the Hershey’s unsweetened natural cocoa powder. Be sure not to substitute Dutch-processed (alkalinized) cocoa, or the edges of brownies will rise and cook faster than the center and become crisp. 2] Or if you are a dedicated baker, import chocolate from the US. This requires purchasing from a US Chocolate Retailer/Wholesaler, who then ships it to a transcontinental Shipper in Florida who then ships it to The Cayman Islands (TCI), who then handles its import, duty fees and local delivery. Cost is going to be roughly 1.75x more than purchasing the product in the US without export, once you add up: Cost of US product + US Sales Tax + Shipping to FL + Shipping to TCI + TCI Import Duty + Local Delivery.

Ultimate Fudgy Brownies

The source of this recipe is the June/July 2010 issue of the now-defunct Fine Cooking magazine with modifications provided by me – AND this really is a great fudgy brownie; brownies bake uniformly without any uneven raised edges! The ingredients are all available on Grand Cayman.

12 oz unsalted butter (Anchor from New Zealand is available on TCI)

1 1/4 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder* (Hershey’s), sifted.

2 ¾ cups granulated sugar (e.g., Dominos, C&H)

½ tsp salt (Morton)

5 large eggs at room temperature (I purchase local eggs)

2 teaspoons vanilla (Neilsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon – if you can find and afford it)

1 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (Pillsbury)

Preheat oven to 350ºF with rack positioned in the center of the oven.  Butter a 9”x13” straight sided baking pan**, ***, line with parchment creating an overhang to serve as a sling, and then butter the parchment.

Place the butter in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer over a saucepan on water on medium-low heat and stir occasionally until melted.  Off heat using the standing mixer, whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth using the standing mixer. Add the sugar and salt, and whisk until well blended.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time until blended.  Whisk in the vanilla.  Sift the flour over the batter and fold in by hand with a rubber spatula.

Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan****. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with small bits of brownie sticking to it, 40 minutes – do not over bake!

Cool completely in the pan on a rack & then cut the edges free from the pan.  Refrigerate until completely cold before removing from pan.  Cut into individual servings while cold to retain clean edges & wrap

Yield (56oz batter):  24 (cut 6 x 4) or 18 (cut 6 x 3) brownies (the latter fits 4 perfectly into a small cookie box and the former fits 16 into a 10” window box)

* Do not substitute Dutch-processed (aka, alkalinized) cocoa – or edges of brownies will rise and cook faster than center and become crisp.

** It is important to use a straight-sided pan to create brownies of uniform thickness/size.  Chicago Metallic makes these pans.

*** This recipe can be halved (yield 28oz batter) and baked in an 8” x 8” straight-sided pan.

**** OPTION: After the batter is spread in the pan and before baking, sprinkle the surface with ¾ c. (3oz) finely chopped raw walnuts and gently press into the surface.

If I cannot fix a problem by baking a cookie, I cannot deal with it

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