Driving around Florida Mall is a nightmare, but there is a bakery nearby that makes it absolutely worth it, Melao.
This place offers a huge menu of savory Hispanic dishes, but the true point of pride here are their bakery items. As soon as you walk in you are greeted by a giant display of every dessert you can imagine. It all looks delicious and overwhelming. I can help calm your nervousness by insisting you try one thing - "the one with the sprinkles."
That's definitely not this dessert's name, but I don't speak Spanish and I'm too shy to ask, so you can just do like I do and point to deliciously soaked almond cake with white frosting and rainbow sprinkles. It is perfection.
I also tried a similar version with a brown custard-like topping with almond. That one tasted amazing as well. For a total of three slices (I shared with a friend, no shame) during this visit, I spent less than $5.
My trip to Melao got me thinking about what other Caribbean desserts are found in Orlando. Over the next week, I tried some items from some new and old places around the city.
2. Golden Krust
My next taste-testing journey took place at Golden Krust, a chain Jamaican restaurant, in Waterford Lakes. For $4.60 I got a hefty slice of rum cake and rock cake. To this day my mom makes rum cake for the holidays, but in all honesty I was never a fan.
However, the rum cake here is much, much better (sorry mom) because it's soaked in rum and so moist! My mom's version has lot of chunks of dried fruit in it, but this one only has a few in it, which I like.
The rock cake is similar to a sweet coconut bread I grew up eating as well, however Golden Krust serves it in these huge rounds. Basically flour, sugar, butter, eggs and coconut flakes, this treat is just sweet enough. It's definitely a dry desire (might be good for dunking in milk), but if you don't have a huge sweet tooth this might satisfy you.
Old Cuban Cafe on 50 near Alafaya offers traditional pastries at affordable prices. For $6.36 I got a small tres leche cake, two galettes dipped in frosting and sprinkles, and a guava and cheese pastry. The last item was one of my favorites out of all the desserts and the fact they serve it warm is a nice touch. The tres leche had good flavor, but the cake is a little mushier than what I'm use to or prefer.
A Trinidadian spot that serves up everything from doubles to Chinese-style stir-fry, is another place you can get Caribbean sweets. Here's a breakdown of some of the dessert items you can find there, along with their descriptions.
Salara - A soft sweet bread-like pinwheel with red dyed coconut between its layers, this treat is also known as coconut roll.
Kurma - Also known as mithai to the Guyanese, these small strips of dough that are fried until super crunchy and then coated in sugar. Fair warning you might break your teeth on this crunchy delight, or rot them out since they're highly addictive.
Pone - A truly unique dessert that takes the form of a gelatinous cake due to the use of shredded cassava. Coconut and raisins are the other main additions to this dish, but I have also heard of pumpkin being added as well. This dessert has a special place in my heart since I was always assigned to grate the coconut and cassava for this. To this day my mom makes me do this.
Tunnock's Caramel Wafers - Think a much thicker Kit-Kats on steroids with a light layer of caramel throughout. This is actually from a Scottish bakery but is a popular import to Trinidad.
Orlando truly is a great place for all cultures to come together, and it is especially amazing to have a representation of Caribbean cultures through these sweet bites.