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December recipe: Bonbon siwo (Haitian gingerbread)

12.21. 2018 Posted By: The Hungry Hounds 307 Times read

This holiday season add the flavors of Haiti to your holiday table with Bonbon siwo (Haitian gingerbread). Bonbon siwo is a warmly spiced, tropical gingerbread from Haiti, made over charcoal fires along busy market streets. This Haitian gingerbread cake is dark and dense with coconut milk and blackstrap molasses, and boldly flavored with fresh ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

Yield: Serves 4


  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (can substitute regular molasses for a sweeter, lighter cake)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Heat the oven to 350. Grease a 9” x 5” bread loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar, using a hand or stand mixer, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add 1/4 cup flour and continue beating it until smooth. Once the flour is mixed in, add the eggs, coconut milk, molasses, ginger, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Note that this will be a very liquid mixture at this point, and may look like it is beginning to separate. Don’t worry, it will come together when the additional dry ingredients are added.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (the remaining 1 ¾ cup flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves).
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir just enough to smooth out any lumps. Pour the batter into the greased bread pan, and bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes.
  5. Test the cake for doneness using a toothpick or knife, if it emerges clean the cake is done. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for 5 minutes prior to removing from the pan. Allow the cake to fully cool before cutting and serving. Traditionally this would be served in squares. We like to eat Bonbon siwo dusted with powdered sugar.

 The Hungry Hounds is the food blog of Paul and Rebecca Shetler Fast, country representatives for Mennonite Central Committee in Haiti. Learn more about MCC Haiti at their blog,

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