Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mexican Fiesta Part I: Tres Leches

A lot has happened since my last post. I am now a resident of the great state of Texas and a scientician once again. Now that I'm all settled in and finally have my very own shiny kitchen (fear not hopeful cooking friends, I still plan to make a mess of your kitchens as well), it's time to get back to the business of making and eating loads of deliciousness. We start with the incredible Mexican fiesta I put on with the fabulous O'Connor sisters last night featuring roasted poblano chicken enchiladas, mexican corn, guacamole, tres leches and, of course, margaritas. Since dessert is the most important meal of the day, we'll start there.

Purchasing a stand mixer before a bed = having the right priorities in life.
This was truly a monumental meal because it marked the first use of my wonderful new stand mixer/best friend. I call him Sgt. Mixxypants.

Tres Leches
Adapted from Alton Brown's recipe
Servings: One 9x13 cake
Time: 4 hours (inactive for 2)

Mmmm batter pan
Vegetable oil
6 3/4 oz cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 oz unsalted butter, room temp
8 oz sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Lightly oil and flour a 9x13 metal pan.
  3. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  4. Beat the butter in a mixer on medium speed with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (about one minute).
  5. Slowly add the sugar to the butter at low speed. Make sure to scrape down the sides as necessary.
  6. Mix in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
  7. Add in the vanilla extract.
  8. Mix in the dry ingredients over the course of 3 batches until just combined. Make sure to do this on low speed so you don't overmix the flour. 
  9. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown and the toothpick test comes back clean. Be sure to rotate it once halfway through.
  10. Poke holes throughout the cake with a fork and let cool in the pan.
Don't be alarmed by how little batter you have. This is not supposed to be a thick cake.

1 12 oz an evaporated milk
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half

  1. Whisk the three milks (hey wait a second I think I just figured out the name) together.
  2. Once the cake is cooled, pour the glaze over it and refrigerate for at least an hour (the longer the better). It will absorb the glaze rather quickly if you were good about the fork marks.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whipping cream
8 oz sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
My first successful making of whipped cream. Without a mixer, I'd always get tired and give up. This thing is practically paying for itself!
  1. Whisk the creams, sugar and vanilla extract together at medium speed until peaks start to form.
  2. Ramp it up to high speed until it thickens.
  3. Spread over the top of the cake and add the fruit as a nice edible garnish.
It's important to mix up the colors.
Tres leches is, to me at least, the perfect cake. At first glance, it seems like a boringly simple cake, but hidden inside the unassuming exterior are complex and wonderful flavors. With any cake, you shoot for it to be moist, and the milky goodness glaze ensures this is the case. It's important to balance being very moist with not too soggy, and this cake emerged on the perfect end of that spectrum. My main modification was upping the amount of vanilla in both the cake and the frosting (a tactic I usually make when baking) and adding fruit. That vanilla flavor really came across, and the trio of fruit helped the cake burst with flavor. This auspicious debut of my food mixer was a great way to end the night and send us all into food comas.

The adventure was only beginning for my apron and my world class sous chefs, Maconda and Nancy.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of the mexican fiesta: Roasted Poblano Chicken Enchiladas!

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