Nickname: America's Caribbean Paradise
Two Truths and a Lie
The Recipe - Rum Molasses Crinkles
The U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the Lesser Antilles in the northwest Caribbean Sea. Spanish explorers visited the islands as early as 1493 but never settled there – preferring the larger islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Hispaniola. Sadly these Spanish visitors and a slew of pirate crews introduced diseases to the Virgin Islands that destroyed the native Taíno and Carib populations. By 1625 the islands were deemed uninhabited.
Throughout the 17th century, European powers grappled for control of the islands. By 1733, The Danish West India Company controlled Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, and Saint John. White settlers founded plantations where enslaved Africans grew sugar, cotton, and indigo. Sugar mills dotted the landscape producing molasses and rum.
The 19th century brought an economic depression to the islands. The European sugar beet became a cheaper alternative to sugarcane and destroyed demand throughout the Caribbean. In 1848, slave rebellions pressured the governor to abolish slavery. 1867 brought a hurricane, earthquake, and tsunami which further worsened economic conditions, and the Danes no longer profited off the Virgin Islands.
In 1917 the United States purchased the islands to prevent the possibility of Germany gaining a military advantage (which is exactly what Japan was doing to the Mariana Islands). Residents initially had little representation in the democratic process and suffered through stagnant economic conditions. By World War II, the economy improved and residents had U.S. citizenship and a locally elected government.
A tourism boom began in the 1950s and continues to dominate the Virgin Islands' economy. I was part of this economy back in 2014 when my husband and I traveled to Saint John for our honeymoon. We hiked to waterfalls, danced on the beach, and snorkeled with the sea turtles. This recipe honors the sunny afternoon we explored the Annaberg Sugar Mill and then sampled local rums at the Lime Inn in Cruz Bay.
I was so excited to find a bottle of rum from the Virgin Islands at my local spirits shop. It was golden-hued, fragrant, and incredibly smooth to sip. I poured 4 ounces of rum over a cup of cane sugar and let it sit in a 200-degree oven until fragrant crystals remained. I used this rum sugar in my favorite molasses crinkle recipe and they were amazing. I love the deep color and rich flavor. I don’t know if I will have the pleasure of visiting Saint John’s beaches ever again, but I will certainly make these rum molasses crinkles again.
Want to experience USVI for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...
Saint John is a beautiful place and I wish I could be there right now (a blizzard rages outside my window and I'm wearing a scarf and stocking cap indoors) My favorite hike was a scramble along the rocky coast to Brown Bay and my favorite beach was Cinnamon Bay, and the best snorkeling happened in Caneel Bay. I also just loved watching the sunset over Cruz Bay.
Time for the whole truth
"The Curse of the Black Pearl" was filmed in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines among other non-USVI locations.
(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)