Pastel de Merengue
For the meringues:
7 large egg whites
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
For the whipped cream filling:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces (1 cup) mascarpone or requeson cheese, chilled
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
2 cups sliced strawberries, plus more for garnish
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and trace two circles, 8-inches in diameter, on each piece of parchment paper, four circles altogether between the two pans.
In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and lime juice on medium speed until frothy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Continue beating and start adding the granulated sugar slowly, about 2 tablespoons at a time, until completely combined and the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 2 to 3 more minutes. The meringue should appear white and glossy.
Remove the bowl from the stand, sift the cornstarch into the meringue, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold and completely incorporate the cornstarch. Transfer the meringue to the prepared baking sheets, dividing evenly between the 4 8-inch measured circles. Use the spatula to spread it into even circles; you will be able to make some nice wavy shapes.
Bake for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 175 degrees. Let the meringue dry in the oven for another 4 to 6 hours. The outside should be crisp, and they should be easy to remove from the parchment. Set aside to cool completely.
In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and mascarpone cheese until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Transfer 1 1/4 cups of the whipped mascarpone cream to a medium bowl and fold in the sliced strawberries. Set aside.
To assemble the cake, place a round of meringue on platter and spoon about 1 1/4 cup whipped cream onto the center, then spread to cover. Top with the second meringue and spread on the strawberry and whipped cream mixture. Top with the third meringue and another 1 1/4 cup whipped cream. Top with the final meringue. Serve in slices with more fresh strawberries.
© 2010-2015 MEXICAN TABLE, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Gelatina de Tres Leches con Fresas
For the tres leches gelatin:
1 cup whole or 2-percent milk
1 14-ounce can La Lechera sweetened condensed milk
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder (or about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
For the strawberry gelatin:
2 cups cranberry or pomegranate juice
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder (or about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 pound strawberries, stemmed, rinsed and quartered
To prepare the tres leches gelatin: Bring 1 cup of milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow the milk to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract, and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high to return to a simmer, then reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl.
Pour 1/2 cup of lukewarm water into a medium bowl and add 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin. Stir until well combined, then let it rest until the mixture puffs up (it will increase slightly in volume and appear as if it’s solidifying) – approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a small saucepan with 2 to 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place the bowl with the puffed-up gelatin mixture on top of the saucepan with the simmering water. Let it rest there, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin has completely dissolved and the mixture has a barely amber color – approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pour the dissolved gelatin into the bowl with the tres leches mixture and stir to combine.
To prepare the Strawberry Gelatin: Pour the juice into a large mixing bowl. Repeat the same process to mix and dissolve the gelatin as outlined in the second paragraph above. Pour the dissolved gelatin into the juice and stir to combine.
To layer your tres leches and strawberry gelatin: In plastic cups or single-portion gelatin molds, use a liquid measuring cup or small pitcher to fill about 1/3 of each cup with the tres leches mixture. Place the cups into the refrigerator until the gelatin sets (appears solid and does not slosh when moved), about 20 to 30 minutes. Do not put the bowls with your remaining tres leches mixture and juice mix in the refrigerator.
Remove the cups from the refrigerator and pour the juice mixture on top of the tres leches, filling about another 1/3 of the cup, and add some strawberry pieces. Cover the cups with plastic wrap, return them to the refrigerator, and let chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
(You are at free will to play with your combinations! You can decide how many layers - one or ten! - and how thick or thin you want to make them. You can choose which flavor you want to start with, or if you want to alternate. Continue until you are done using all of the flavored mixes.)
If you want to use a large 8- to 10-inch serving mold, fill it halfway with tres leches mix and refrigerate until set, about 20 to 30 minutes. Then pour the juice mixture on top and carefully add the strawberry pieces. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before unmolding. It should be firm and not feel sticky or sag, and it should slide easily out of the mold with a few gentle shakes.
Hint: If your gelatin mixtures start to solidify while you are waiting for layers to set in the refrigerator, not to worry! Adding a little at a time, stir water into the mixture until it becomes liquid, again.
© 2010-2014 MEXICAN TABLE, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Red, green, orange, blue… and all the colors you can dream up! Vanilla, cajeta, jamaica, chocolate, coffee, fruits, nuts… and just about any flavor you may crave. Smooth or chunky, creamy or foamy, heavy or light… choose any texture you like. Wait! We haven’t even gotten into shapes. Did you say your son likes Spiderman, your mom likes flowers or you want to go for a simple 2 layer design?
If you haven’t fallen for Jello, then you haven’t tried those in the Mexican repertoire. Forget about the 1950s-style-jello salads. Forget about the Jello you’ve seen people eat, or you may have eaten, in hospitals, too.
Mexican Jello is something to celebrate, to showcase, to boast about.
Gelatinas, in Spanish, many times come in individual servings with different flavors stacked in bright and colorful layers. Sold by street vendors who carry them in see through 2 to 3 tier covered stands, they are a common site in gas stations where cars wait for their turn and passersby can’t help but be tempted. Now you know why I always tagged along with my dad to fill up the tank!
It’s hard to show up at a kids party in Mexico and not see them. You will run into more sophisticated versions of them, standing tall, firm and proud at grown up parties, maybe with generous splashes of rum, tequila or rompope in their mix. There are simpler Jello creations brightening shelves at bakeries and grocery stores, too. In fact, Jello is such a big thing, that some cooks have elevated it to a complex art form with floral and abstract designs.
Continue reading Dream Big: Tres Leches and Strawberry Jello
It seems that when it comes to birthdays and cakes, most of us grown ups are like little kids too. So this year, I planned my husbands’ cake with a little help from my three young boys.
The night before, as I tucked them in bed, we talked about making an irresistible I-want-to-jump-into-that-cake kind of cake. It had to be something that could WOW him away and could also feel yummy and soft when they dipped his face in it (yep! that was their plan).
This talk led me, once again, to tell the boys stories about cakes from my childhood. Most of those cakes came from Sanborns’, a chain of stores that sells almost anything you can imagine: books, DVD’s, make-up, electronics, luggage, candies, the best ever chocolate covered raisins, marshmallows and toys. It also has great coffee-shop style restaurants with some of my favorite molletes and enchiladas. Not to forget its perfumeries and pharmacies. It is a serious knock out one-stop-shop. But most importantly, it was, and may still be, one of the most popular places to get a birthday cake.
One of the cakes that left me with a permanent impression went something like this: A couple layers of fluffy and moist vanilla cake, a foamy and soft meringue filling paired with old fashioned strawberry jam and pecans, the same soft meringue layered all over the top, some more pecans and whatever decorations you fancied.
That cake, by itself, made a party happen. It was a creation worthy of its own celebration.
Continue reading A Cake Worthy of its own Celebration