Local Chef and Cooking Instructor, Sophia Worgan made a traditional Mexican cake for Cinco de Mayo. Click here for more information about Sophia.
Pastel de Maiz de Cuatro Leches with a Strawberry and Pepper Salsa
By Sophia Worgan
This is an ode to the traditional Mexican desert, tres leches. Tres leches, meaning three milks, is South America’s version of a soaked cake- similar to the Italians tiramisu. This cake is a cuatro leche due to the sour cream topping which pairs amazingly with the green crunch of jalapeno in the salsa.
I chose to make this dish for Cinco De Mayo to showcase my twist on the festive desert, highlight some tradition flavor profiles in a unique way and represent the Mexican flag through the red strawberries, green jalapeno/cilantro and white cream! ¡Salud!
Pastel De Maiz aka Corn Cake:
• ½ cup room temperature, unsalted butter
• ¾ cup sugar
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ cup cornmeal
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 cup milk
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ cup dehydrated corn
• 14 oz sweetened, condensed milk
• 1 cup cup heavy cream
• ½ cup evaporated milk
• Juice and zest of 1 lime
Sweet Sour Cream
• 2 cups sour cream
• 2 tablespoon powdered sugar
Strawberry and Pepper Salsa
• 2 cases fresh Strawberries, diced
• ½ cup Habanero infused Agave (directions bellow)
• 2 Jalapenos, deseeded and finely diced
• 2 Limes, juiced
• ½ cup Cilantro, minced
• Sea salt to finish
1. Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a stand up mixer, begin creaming together your butter and sugar until the grains begin to dissolve and the mixture looks light and fluffy. Slowly begin adding the eggs, careful not to break the mixture.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together your milk and honey with a whisk. After incorporating the eggs in the butter mixture, begin adding the milk and honey- stop to scrape the sides and turn your mixer up to ensure all wet ingredients have come together.
3. In another bowl, sift together your dry ingredients: baking powder, corn meal and ap flour. On a low setting, begin mixing in the dry ingredients with your wet ingredients until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer and pull the bowl out.
4. Take your dehydrated corn and carefully fold them into your batter. Once mixed in, pour your batter into a greased cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the cake springs back to touch.
5. While the cake is baking, begin making the tres leches mixture by whisking the milk together in a bowl. Add in the zest of one lime and let the zest steep with the milk- sieve the zest out of the milk mixture after 1 minute and finish the milk by whisking in the lime juice- set aside in the fridge.
6. Remove the cake from the oven, letting it cool slightly, about 10 minutes. After this resting period, your cake will still be warm- begin by piercing the top of the cake with a toothpick at random- you want a good amount of punctures, every inch or so.
7. Take your tres leches mixture and reserve a quarter of it for serving, with the remainder, slowly begin to douse the top of the cake. You may have to do this is sessions and allow the milk to slowly absorb into the cake. It may look a bit soggy once all the milk is added- but rest assured, this is all according to plan. Cover your cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
8. At this point, you can decide to make your salsa now or before serving your cake. To make your salsa, begin by mincing your jalapeno peppers and soaking them in the lime juice- let this mixture sit for two minutes- enough for the lime juice to being taking a little bite out of the jalapeno. In a bowl, mix together the agave, chopped strawberries, cilantro, jalapeno and lime juice.
9. Prior to serving, mix together your sour cream with powdered sugar to create the sweetPastel de Maiz de Cuatro Leches with a Strawberry and Pepper Salsa
10. Bring your cake out of the fridge and plate each individually. On the plate, drizzle more milk mixture on the top, add a dollop of the sweet sour cream and a heaping spoonful of the strawberry salsa- complete the dish with a sprinkle of sea salt and dig in!
Directions for Habanero agave:
1. Warm ½ cup of agave syrup in the microwave or on the stove- enough that it is warm to the touch but not boiling. Add 1 teaspoon worth of fresh habanero- this can be in slices or chopped. Let this mixture steep together for about 1 minute- the longer it steeps the spicier it will be. Finish the agave syrup by straining out the pepper and discarding them.