It was my pleasure to make this cake for a friend who was throwing an Admin Professionals Day lunch party for his team at the VA Hospital. What a nice guy, and what a nice thought! With a taco bar for lunch, I decided to make a cake featuring dulce de leche, to go along with the cuisine. Inspired in part by this light dulce de leche chiffon cake by Williams Sonoma, and this much richer dulce de leche cake by Momofuku Milkbar, I created a cake with chiffon cake layers, homemade dulce de leche and spiced (cinnamon and cayenne) dark chocolate ganache filling, a cheesecake middle layer, and milk crumbs.
I kept the decoration relatively simple, with Swiss meringue buttercream and more milk crumbs. I didn’t get a chance to eat the entire combination of flavors myself, but the bites I had here and there along the process from trimmings were yummy. Lots of fun creating this!
I didn’t get a chance to make these for Cinco de Mayo like I had planned to, but I made them happen anyway over the past week.
Rice Fritters with Sesame Caramel
(see recipe from Food Network)
If you search for Cinco de Mayo desserts, churros, or variations of fried dough dipped in sugar, are likely to turn up. I thought these rice fritters would be slightly more interesting and challenging, so I decided to give them a try. Delicious, and well-worth the effort! But perhaps no healthier than churros (they are deep-fried afterall) . . .
Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche
(adapted from Saveur Magazine, see also theurbanbaker.com)
Makes 24 cupcakes
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons dark rum
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12-oz. can evaported milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Heat ¾ cup of the heavy cream in a saucepan until it boils/simmers. Pour over white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let sit for a couple minutes before stirring with a spatula until the white chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
- Beat the egg whites with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding the sugar.
- Separately beat the egg yolks until fluffy. Using the paddle attachment, add the flour mixture and whole milk, alternating between the two and ending with the flour.
- Add the rum and vanilla and beat briefly until smooth.
- Folk in the egg whites.
- Scoop batter into cupcake liners, and bake for 16-18 minutes until slightly golden. Be careful not to overbake. Since the cake will be soaked in tres leches, it will ultimately be “moist” in any event, but the cake texture is spongy and can get stiff.
- After baking, let cool slightly (~30 minutes), and then poke holes in the top of the cupcakes with a knife, making sure to penetrate to the base.
- Peel off the paper liners. Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream, and spoon the mixture over the warm cupcakes (3-5 tablespoons should do the trick, with the excess sitting in the cupcake pan to ensure that the bottom of the cupcakes are moistened). I wouldn’t worry about oversoaking.
- Cover the cupcakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well-chilled and the liquid is absorbed (at least 4 hours).
- Spread/drizzle dulce de leche on top of the cupcakes, and top with whipped cream.
Home-made dulce de leche is quite easy. It is essentially caramelized condensed milk. Some recipes prepare it directly in the can by placing the can in a boiling pot of water. I decided to go with the oven method (see, e.g. David Lebovitz’s recipe):
Pour a can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow pie pan or baking pan. Place that pan in a larger roasting dish / baking pan that has a lid. Fill the outer pan with water until near the top of the inner pan. Cover with lid and baking at 425° F for 75-90 minutes. Check occasionally in case you need to add more water. A darker crust/layer will form on the top of the condensed milk / dulce de leche. Whisk the dulce de leche until it is smooth (you may need to strain out pieces of crust). Voila!