Makes 12 servings
To Prepare the Molds or Ramekins:
Enough butter to coat 12 molds
1 cup cajeta or dulce de leche
For the Cake:
4 oz or 1 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the Flan:
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Garnish:
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of each ramekin or mold until evenly spread. Pour the cajeta into the buttered molds, distributing evenly between all 12.
To Make the Cake Base:
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy. Then, beat in the egg. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
At medium-low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk into the butter/sugar mixture. Then, beat in the remaining halves. Make sure you scrape the side of the bowl so all of the ingredients mix evenly. Put the mixer on medium-high speed and beat for an additional minute.
To Make the Flan:
Place the eggs, vanilla, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in a blender and puree until smooth.
To Prepare the Entire Dish:
Pour the cake batter into each ramekin or mold. Then, pour the flan mixture on top, it will look messy, but don’t worry, that’s how it’s supposed to be! Place the ramekins in a large pan or baking dish. Pour hot water into the dish up to halfway the height of the molds. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and seal.
Place the in the oven and bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, or until the surface of each cake feels solid, looks baked and a wooden toothpick comes out moist but not wet.
Remove from the oven. Be careful when you open the aluminum foil as the steam will be very hot. Once cool enough to handle, remove the ramekins out of the water bath. Once cool, cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours before eating.
When ready to serve, run the tip of a knife around the ramekin and place it cake-side down onto a plate. Lift the mold up. Drizzle with any cajeta from the mold and decorate with chopped pecans.
By adding a few key Mexican ingredients to what you’d normally find in an all-American pantry and fridge, you get these to-die-for, lip-smacking dishes.
Fun, kid-friendly and (mostly!) finger-food that you’d find at a children’s party in Mexico, adapted for American parties at home. A special guest shows up to make dessert!
CHOCOLATE AND CAJETA CUPCAKES
Recipe from my sister Alisa Romano
Cupcakes de chocolate con cajeta
Makes 12 cupcakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
3/4 cup cajeta or dulce de leche
1 cup heavy whipping cream
14 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
To prepare the cupcakes:
Place oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the cupcake molds.
In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl, add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix it up and add it to the butter mixture. Pour the buttermilk and continue beating. In a small bowl, combine hot water and cocoa powder and stir into the mix, beat until combined. Pour the batter into the cupcake molds.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cupcakes rise, are cooked and tanned on top. Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Using a paring knife, cut a 1-inch piece from the top of each cupcake. Save the cut pieces. Fill each hole with one tablespoon cajeta and replace the cut-out pieces. Top the cupcakes with the chocolate ganache.
To prepare the ganache:
Mash the butter until it’s creamy and has no lumps. Heat the chopped chocolate in a double boiler water bath and let it melt. Warm the heavy whipping cream slightly
Slowly fold the whipping cream into the melted chocolate. Finish off the ganache by folding in the softened butter and adding sugar until everything is well combined.
JUJU’S BIRTHDAY CAKE
Pastel de chocolate de Juju
For the cake:
1 cup water
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup unsalted butter or vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
For the Frosting:
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup sprinkles, optional
To prepare the cake:
Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan with butter. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pot, over medium heat, pour the water, stir in the cocoa and add the butter. Let it heat for a few minutes, stirring now and then, until it all dissolves. Remove the pot from the heat.
In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In another, beat the eggs and combine them with the sour cream.
In turns, add a quarter of the flour mix and then a quarter of the sour cream mix at a time into the pot with the cocoa mixture; stir with a spatula, mixing all of the ingredients as you move along. Pour onto the greased cake pan and place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out barely moist but not wet.
Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool a bit while you prepare the frosting.
To prepare the frosting:
In a saucepan, over medium heat, pour in the milk and the vanilla. Stir in the cocoa and add the butter. Heat and stir until everything is all dissolved and combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Thoroughly mix with a spatula and set aside.
Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cake. Turn the cake onto a platter and gently remove the parchment paper. Pour the still-warm frosting over the cake and gently spread it out with a spatula. If you wish, you may add sprinkles of your choice before the frosting hardens (NOTE: The cake is soft and moist the first couple days, then hardens like a brownie afterwards if left uncovered– perfect for packing in school lunches).
The same foods that parents pack into a hearty school lunch in Mexico are perfect for school lunchtime in America. These dishes are so tasty and filling, even grownups will want to take them to work…
Mexican chocolate is quite different from regular bittersweet chocolate sold throughout the world.
It is sweeter, yet with contrasting layers of flavor that seem to sweep your tongue in waves as you take a bite. It is also grainy, practically gritty. It is traditionally made from a mixture of toasted cacao beans, ground almonds, regular sugar and cinnamon.
Native from Mexico, in pre-hispanic times cacao beans were transformed into a chocolate paste. In that form, chocolate was combined with water and drank every day, by the liters, by Aztec Emperor Moctezuma. It was served for him, in hand carved precious mugs and spiced up with ground chiles and sometimes honey. Only the high tier of the Aztec hierarchy had access to it, on special occasions. It was only after the Spaniards arrived that it turned into a sweeter ingredient by adding the sugar, cinnamon and almonds.
Continue reading Mexican Chocolate
The molinillo is a traditional Mexican kitchen utensil, that has been used for centuries to make froth in hot chocolate. It is made of a single piece of wood. The top part, typically thick and round, has decorations and indentations. A number of loose, movable rings follow. Lastly a round handle that is soft and round making it easy to beat with your hands. All of the decorations, shapes and pieces are made to create the most froth possible (continue for more information and photos).
Continue reading Molinillo
The showcase of last week’s class was one of Mexico’s most famous and delicious moles, the Poblano, which originated in the kitchen of the Convent of Santa Rosa, in Puebla. After seeing how much guests enjoyed it, I can’t wait to share it with you.
I know, the word Mole sounds exciting to eat yet intimidating to prepare. As the root of the word describes, from the náhuatl mulli, Mole is a thick sauce or paste made by grinding ingredients together in a molcajete or communal mill. A food processor works as well. This sauce can be thinned out with broth or water when ready to use.
The Poblano with its long ingredients list and its laborious process, is not the best way to introduce Moles. There are some simple Moles with no more than 4 or 5 ingredients that are easier to prepare and just as tasty.
But here I am! I adore the Poblano and I know you will too…
I tested many ways to find the easiest route to make it without compromising its authenticity and flavor. As long as you prep your ingredients and have them in place before you start throwing them in the pot -what the French call Mise en Place and Mexicans Estate Listo!-, it’s a manageable task that takes about an hour. Trust me. Here we go.
Continue reading Mole Poblano: Yes You Can!