Pimento Grain

the recipes of a nomadic Jamaican

Category: Desserts

Wild Blackberry-Ricotta Coffee Cake

Good morning!

Good morning!

As it turns out, I am the only person in this hemisphere who was not aware, until recently, that coffee cakes usually contain no coffee. I made this discovery after being offered some coffee cake on an afternoon visit to a neighbor, I was stumped (and quite delighted) by the fact that it tasted like cinnamon and applesauce. On the walk back home, my husband made a quip about working off the ‘coffee cake’, which is when I asked him whether he had actually tasted any coffee. He sniggered, then informed me that coffee cakes are merely sweet morsels served during a coffee break, much like teacakes which contain no tea, and aren’t cakes yet are served at teatime.

I had a tub of ricotta and frozen wild blackberries that needed to be used up, so this recipe was the only natural outcome. It is not very dessert-like but was an excellently dense, indulgent breakfast with a hot cup of spiced coffee. I recommend cooling the cake for at least an hour before serving, and you can make it a day ahead and store, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

Wild blackberry-ricotta coffee cake

1. In a large bowl, whisk together

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups demerara or turbinado sugar (use less if using white granulated sugar)

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/4 tsp cardamom

1 tsp ground ginger

2. In a separate bowl, whisk until combined

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups ricotta

zest of medium lemon

1 Tbsp lemon juice

3. Fold wet mixture into dry ingredients until just blended then mix in

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup frozen wild blackberries (or blueberries, or cherries, or raspberries, or, or, or…)

4. Scrape batter into a greased 9-inch springform pan, spread evenly then top with

1/2 cup frozen wild blackberries (or, or, or…)

5. Bake at 350°F for 60-70 minutes, until cake is set and lightly browned on top

6. Remove from oven and cool for at least an hour before serving at room temperature. 

Deliciously dense

Deliciously dense cake, riddled with blueberries

Perfectly Pink Guava Sorbet

Serving up pink guava sorbet swirled into toasted coconut ice cream

Serving up pink guava sorbet swirled into toasted coconut ice cream

In defiance of the rule, in these United States, that one shouldn’t have ice cream after Labor Day, I am eating toasted coconut ice cream. There might be room for redemption, however, as I also whipped up a halfway-healthy pink guava sorbet which was swirled into the delicious coconutty goodness. I do not have fresh guavas at my disposal so I used a puree that I ordered online. The puree was reminiscent of a freshly picked, ripe pink guava from Jamaica, except my Jamaican guavas were always free and this 30-ounce jar of frozen puree was $25 plus the cost of overnight shipping. I could shed a tear, but when I think of how much a pound of inferior Atlantic salmon costs in Jamaica, while here I can easily walk down to the river and catch (or bargain for) a gigantic, delicious, Pacific chinook, I realize it’s worth it. 

Three scoops, please

Three scoops, please

Because I used David Lebovitz’s recipe from The Perfect Scoop to make the toasted coconut ice cream, I won’t share it here but feel free to buy the book or google the method that other bloggers have reproduced with permission. Below is the recipe for my pink guava sorbet that is lovely on its own but benefits from pairing with ice cream.

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

the juice of a large lime (about 2 Tbsps)

5 fresh kaffir lime leaves

2. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

3. Reduce heat and  add

1 1/2 cups Guava Puree

4. Stir until guava puree is well blended

5. Remove from heat and chill over an ice bath (place pan in a large bowl of ice, stirring occasionally)

6. When mixture has cooled, discard lime leaves and churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. IF you do not have an ice-cream maker spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet, freeze, then churn the mixture in a blender until smooth.

7. Keep frozen until ready to serve



Green Tea Stracciatella Ice-Cream with Midori Spring Organic Ceremonial Matcha

Beautiful shards of chocolate throughout velvety matcha cream

Beautiful shards of chocolate throughout velvety matcha cream

I received a sample of Midori Spring’s Organic Ceremonial Emerald Class Matcha and as a first time matcha user, I am impressed. I have been enjoying the hot tea, which is quite potent and delicious but my favorite use of the product has been in ice-cream. I’ve made green tea ice cream three times since I received this canister but the recipe I will share today is my favorite yet. Chocolate goes excellently with green tea and provides a kick of sweetness to remind you that this is, in fact, dessert. I think it’s better than the green tea ice cream served at my favorite Japanese restaurant, but self-praise is no recommendation so I urge you to give this recipe a try.



1. In a saucepan over medium flame, heat

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2. Whisk in

1 Tbsp  + 1 tsp matcha powder

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

3. In a small bowl beat

3 large egg yolks, slowly adding 1/4 cup of heated milk mixture while whisking. This will temper the yolks.

4. Once yolks have tempered, incorporate them into the milk mixture over medium-low flame. This is your custard.

5. Stir custard with a spatula, regularly ‘scraping’ the bottom and sides of the pan. Do not let the mixture boil.

6. When mixture has reached a nappe consistency (thick enough to coat the spatula, leaving a clean line when you run your finger through it), strain into a bowl with

1 cup heavy cream

7. Mix cream and custard until well incorporated. Refrigerate until completely cooled, or cool in an ice bath, if you are impatient.

8. Churn mixture in an ice-cream maker.

9. When ice-cream is mostly solid and still churning, slowly and steadily add

1 bar chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

10. Churn for another 10 minutes. You will have tiny shards of delightful chocolate distributed throughout the ice cream. Transfer to airtight container and freeze til ready to serve.

Makes 1.25 qts



Three scoops, please


  • The chocolate is optional. Recipe works wonderfully without it, just use a full cup of sugar.
  • If you want to add your chocolate solid, please melt and chill it first. If you add the chocolate chunks without melting, it will be very gritty and will taste nothing like chocolate.
  • The matcha will not completely dissolve unless you’re very lucky but have no fear the larger solids will be strained out.
  • I use the Cuisinart ICE-100 ice-cream maker. It is a worthy investment if you intend to experiment with ice-cream.
  • Tovolo Glide-A-Scoop Ice Cream Tub is a great container that makes freezing and serving your ice-cream as easy as pie.

Morning Brioche Bread Pudding with Buttered Rum Reduction

Pudding is set and will be ready to serve when slightly cooled

Pudding is set and will be ready to serve when slightly cooled

I spent all of last weekend baking bread and my household consists of only two, so I have had to employ creative ways of using day-old loaves. So far, I have made french toast, croutons and a few experimental dishes but this bread pudding has been the most well-received. The brioche called for approximately 10 eggs, so the crumb was remarkably airy, making for a light but smooth pudding.

1. On low heat in a heavy-bottomed pan, stir until combined (do not allow to boil)

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons)

1/2 cup Demerara brown sugar

2 tbsp molasses

2 tbsp red rum

3 cups whole milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice (pimento)

2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup raisins

2. Pour mixture over

8 cups brioche cut in 1/2 inch cubes (use less if you have a denser loaf)

3. Mix well and cover in a tightly sealed bowl. Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.

4. When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 375°F

5. Whisk together

4 medium eggs (or 3 large)

1/2 cup heavy cream (36% or above)

1 tbsp dark rum

6. Gently stir egg mixture into bread mixture and pour into a greased 9-inch square baking dish

7.  Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Continue baking for another 40 minutes, until the pudding is set.

8. In a small saucepan, on medium heat combine

1/4 cup Demerara brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream (36% or above)

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons)

2 tbsp dark rum

1 tsp vanilla

9. Stir while boiling until the mixture has slightly thickened (about 2/3 original volume)

10. Pour over warm bread pudding and enjoy!

Serves 8-10


The buttered rum reduction is delightful but you can live dangerously and have it a la mode by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream before pouring on the sauce


Jamaican Christmas Fruit Cake (Black Cake)

I had absolutely no intention of baking this year but when I happened upon a special section in the supermarket bedecked with candied peels, I couldn’t help myself. The intention was to soak the fruits for a month and bake just before Christmas but the influx of appetizing cake photos from Jamaica made me decide to whip up a premature half batch. I hope you will enjoy the rummy delight of this smooth and decadent black cake. I used a Japanese plum wine in my recipe but you can use any combination of wines, fruit juices and spirits. Remember, if you haven’t been soaking your fruits, you can buy them when you are ready to bake and gently stew them in some rum and wine to produce an excellent flavor. Just remember the 5 cups of fruits the recipe calls for are measured after soaking and draining.

Rummy delight with a scoop of french vanilla ice-cream

Rummy delight with a scoop of french vanilla ice-cream

1. Cream until light and fluffy

1 lb butter (4 sticks)

1 lb sugar (I always use Demerara brown sugar)

2. Gradually beat in

12 eggs (one at a time, removing the ‘eye’)

3. Stir in

2 tbsp vanilla

1 tsp pimento (allspice) liqueur

4. In a separate bowl, combine

1 lb flour

2 tbsp mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, pimento/allspice, mace)

3 tsp baking powder (only 1 tsp if using self-rising flour)

a pinch of salt

4. Blend until well incorporated, (in batches if your blender is too small)

4 tbsp browning

3 cups sweet red wine

1 cup rum

1 cup orange juice

5 cups soaked mixed fruits, drained

5. Fold a little fruit mixture into egg mixture, then a little flour mixture, continue folding in alternately until everything is combined.

6. Scrape into three or four, depending on depth, greased and/or lined 8-inch baking tins

7. Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes, then tent with aluminum foil, then bake for another 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool and serve.

It is traditional to splash the cake with rum and/or wine but you will be forgiven if you don’t.



  • The first step before baking this cake is soaking the fruits in red wine, adding a little rum or sherry if you so desire.
  • Half the flour can be substituted with breadcrumbs.
  • Mixed spice is simply a mixture of the spices indicated in bracket. If you cannot source mixed spice, then you can create your own combination with as little or as much of each as you desire.
  • Pimento (Allspice) liqueur is also known as allspice dram. If you can’t find any, you may add a splash of Angostura bitters or any other spicy liqueur you believe will compliment the cake.
  • Madeira and Port are traditionally sweet wines. There are some dulcet, fruity wines designed just for baking these cakes that may be available at your local Jamaican store. You may also use the liquid reserved after draining the fruits.


Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge

This morning a Facebook friend shared what he was having for breakfast and it awakened an intense longing for a couple of the delights of my youth – bits of hard dough(hardo) bread broken into a hot bowl of  cornmeal porridge and the simple pleasure of a tough water cracker, also known as a granny cracker, dipped in hot chocolate tea. I had all the ingredients for porridge on hand so one of my desires was fulfilled; perhaps Amazon can help with the other one as soon as I get over the fear of ordering stale crackers online.

Jamaican cornmeal porridge wit

Garnished with cracked pimento and a strip of sourdough toast to sop it up.

1. Bring to a boil then turn on medium-low heat

4 cups water

2 whole pimento (allspice) grains

1 cinnamon stick (cinnamon bark)

1 cinnamon leaf, crushed but not broken

2. Mix together in a small bowl

1 cup refined cornmeal

2 cups water, at room temperature

 3. Slowly add cornmeal mixture to simmering water, whisking gently.

4. Continue to whisk for 3-5 minutes after all cornmeal has been added, ensuring there are no lumps.

5. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes to ensure no lumps are forming.

6. Add

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup coconut cream

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

7. Mix well. Let porridge remain on lowest heat for an additional 5 minutes.

8. Sweeten with

1/4 cup agave syrup

Serves four.

Jamaican cornmeal porridge with hard dough bread

Good morning!


  • Sweeten to your desired taste, 1/4 cup agave will make a less sweet porridge than most Jamaicans are used to. You can use brown turbinado or Demerara sugar, even honey instead of agave. The common Jamaican way is to use sweetened condensed milk so there is usually no need for an added sweetener.
  • Porridge is excellent cold so refrigerate any leftovers for dessert in the evening. As I write this, I am eating a small bowl of cold cornmeal porridge with huckleberry honey drizzled all over it.

Spiced Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Cobbler

Served warm with a small scoop of coconut gelato… yum!

I bought a five pound bag of frozen blueberries at Costco a few weeks ago and yesterday I realized that I probably won’t prepare enough yogurt smoothies to use them all up, so I decided to make a cobbler.


To give my recipe a little character, I added two of my favorite spices, cardamom and ginger, to the crust and filling, respectively. If I may say so myself, the crust turned out excellently and I will be using cardamom in pastries more often.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. Grease deep pie dish using

1 tsp coconut oil

3. Mix together

2  cups frozen blueberries

1/2 cup sugar (Demerara/turbinado)

1 tsp shredded ginger

Set aside in refrigerator.

4. Combine

1 cup sugar (Demerara/turbinado)

1 cup self-rising flour

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Set aside.

5. In a large bowl, combine

3/4 cup milk

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

6. Slowly add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth

7. Pour batter into greased pie dish

8. Remove blueberries from refrigerator and evenly sprinkle over batter; wait for them to sink

9. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes

10. Serve hot with a scoop of your favorite ice-cream.

Serves six

Blueberry Cobbler

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