Iberians in the sugar producing regions of colonial Latin America and Brazil devoured dulces (sweets) created largely by Afro-Hispanic women known as dulceras. About noon they roamed the streets of urban centers with platters of sweets for sale ousted on their heads. They sold cakes, pies, and in the words of one visitor to Havana in the nineteenth century “little bowls and cups of freshly made sweetmeats, preserved guavas and mammees (an apple like fruit), grated coconut stewed in sugar, and a very delicious custard made with cocoanut-milk, besides various other fruit-preparations.” These venders worked for masters who sent them out to hawk their wares as part of what was called in colonial Latin America the jornal system. This system gave enslaved African women who came from societies in which women ran local food markets in Africa an opportunity to use their entrepreneurial skills with the understanding that they would give the majority of their earnings to their masters and keep the rest (say for example, 25 cents of every dollar). The master’s assumption was that their slave would turn in the desired earning percentage. Historic records show stealing as form of resistance to one’s master was rampant and as a result enslaved entrepreneurs working under the jornal system often gained the capital necessary for them to purchase their freedom and start their own businesses. The key here is that these women had lucrative culinary skills that their owners needed and thus provided the enslaved person a degree of leverage within an oppressive relationship. It was dulceras across Latin America that one finds in the historic records as some of the first enslaved people who earned enough income to purchase their freedom, that of loved ones, and often go on to establish profitable eateries such as taverns and boarding houses with employees.
Baked pineapple with coconut dulces recipe: http://canelakitchen.blogspot.com/2010/06/baked-pineapple-with-coconut-and-honey.html