LIFESTYLE

Desserts with Latino Flair
Want a sweet way to celebrate  Hispanic Heritage month? Think about trying one of these delish meal-enders.
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FNL dessert cafe con leche

Café con Leche Flan
Serves 6

Caramel Coating
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

Flan
1⁄2 cup water
2 1⁄2 teaspoons agar flakes
2 cups vanilla soy or almond milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 cup regular or lite coconut milk
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

First make the caramel coating. Have ready four to six individual clean, dry glass or ceramic serving cups or two larger 2-cup serving bowls. Pour the sugar into a microwave-safe Pyrex 2- or 4-cup measuring cup. Add the water, stir gently a few times, and microwave on high for 5 to 6 minutes; do not stir again. At about 4 minutes, the sugar will be melted and rapidly bubbling. Soon after that it will start to turn pale golden, then increasingly amber. Once it has reached a dark amber color, stop the microwave and use oven mitts to remove the cup of hot caramel immediately.

Quickly pour a thin layer onto the bottoms of the ramekins. Gently tilt each ramekin with a circular motion so that some of the caramel flows from the bottom onto the sides of the container; it doesn’t have to reach more than 1/2 inch up the sides. Set the molds aside and let cool as you prepare the flan custard.

In a large saucepan, combine the water and agar and bring to a boil; lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the soy milk and the cornstarch and set aside. After most of the agar appears to have to melted, stir in the remaining soy milk, coconut milk, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and espresso powder. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat again. Whisk the other soy milk mixture once more and stir rapidly into simmering coconut milk mixture. Cook and stir constantly until the mixture has thickened slightly and the cornstarch is completely cooked, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and remove from the heat.

Pour into the caramel-lined molds, leaving a minimum of 1/2 inch from the top of the molds. Let cool for 10 minutes, then move the flans into the refrigerator to chill and complete firming for 4 hours or overnight.

To serve the chilled flan, gently run a butter knife a few times along the sides of each flan. Invert the ramekin onto a serving plate, give it couple sharp taps, and it should slide onto the plate. Serve the flan within two to three days of preparing.

Recipe and photo from “Viva Vegan!: 200 Authentic and Fabulous Recipes for Latin Food Lovers” by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

FNL dessert yuqitas rellenas de aranza con chocolate

Yucca Beignets with Araza and Spiced Caramel Sauce
Serves 4

Yucca Beignets
½ pound cooked and mashed yucca
½ tablespoon sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons bread flour
1½ teaspoons dry yeast
¼ cup water
1 egg, beaten

Spiced Syrup
¼ cup simple syrup
¼ cup panela (unrefined brown sugar)
2 ounces Pisco Quebranta
Zest of 1 small orange
½ of a vanilla pod
2 dry figs, halved
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon aniseed
1 star anise

Chocolate Caramel Sauce
4½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon ground or powdered caramel

2/3 cup preserved araza (a fruit native to the Amazon)

To make the beignets, mix yeast with the water. Place the warm mashed yucca in a large bowl, add sugar and flour, and mix thoroughly. Add the water and yeast, stirring the flour to form a batter. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the egg and knead the dough until it becomes light, shiny, and elastic, about 20 minutes. Place the dough in greased bowl, cover with damp cloth or plastic film, and leave in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

To make the chocolate caramel sauce, place chocolate and caramel in a bowl. Bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil, add the ground caramel and chocolate, stir until melted and smooth. Strain and keep warm.

To make the spiced syrup, bring the syrup, panela, and Pisco to a boil in a saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with a lid, and let cool. Strain the syrup. Before serving, warm the syrup slightly.

To assemble, fill a small-tipped pastry piping bag with the araza preserves. In a large saucepan, heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees F for deep frying. Shape the beignets with wet fingers. Fry the beignets in small batches until they are golden brown. Remove the beignets, drain them on paper towels, and pipe in the araza filling. Place a spoonful of chocolate caramel sauce on a plate, place the beignets on top, and finish by drizzling with warm spiced syrup.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Aqua Expeditions’ Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino.

FNL dessert Pay de Chocolate

Pay (Pie) de Chocolate
Makes one 10-inch deep-dish pie

Filling
1 cup heavy cream
¾ tablet (2-1/4 ounces) Mexican chocolate
½ cup semisweet chocolate
1 cup dark chocolate
1 1/3 cups chilled heavy cream

Crust
5 whole graham crackers
¾ cup sliced almonds, toasted
¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into bits

Heat the cream until boiling. Lower the heat and add the Mexican chocolate. Stir over low heat until it melts. Add the rest of the chocolate and allow it to melt, stirring constantly until all chocolate is melted and the mixture is very smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Over medium-high heat, melt the butter – in fact, brown it just a little until it releases a nutty aroma – then set aside to cool slightly. Slightly crush the crackers and put them in a food processor with the almonds. Grind to form a coarse meal. Transfer the meal to a bowl and toss it with the butter. Lightly press the crust mixture into a 10-inch pie pan. Set aside.

Whip the chilled cream until stiff, then fold it into the room-temperature chocolate filling mixture. Fold thoroughly, until no more white streaks appear, then mound the chocolate mix into the pie shell. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or preferably overnight, and serve.

Recipe & photo courtesy “The Elote Cafe Cookbook,” by Jeff Smedstad, Sedona, Arizona.

FNL dessert pumpkin flan

Pumpkin Flan
Serves 6

2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Stir 2/3 cup sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Boil until mixture turns amber-colored, brushing any crystals that form on sides of pan with wet brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 7 minutes. Immediately divide caramel among six 1/2-cup soufflé dishes to cover bottoms and sides with caramel. Cool.

Whisk pumpkin, eggs, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in milk. Divide mixture among soufflé dishes. Place dishes in large baking pan. Add enough water to baking pan to come halfway up sides of dishes. Bake until flan is set, about 55 minutes. Cool.

Refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Run small sharp knife around edges of dishes to loosen. Invert flans onto dessert plates and serve.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Havana Central Cuban Restaurant in Manhattan. 

FNL dessert latin fire ice cream

Latin Fire Ice Cream
Serves 2

12 fresh strawberries
1-½ roasted jalapeno peppers, with seeds
¼ cup low-fat soy milk
¼ cup organic fructose
2 cups ice

Place all ingredients into food processor or blender. Process until combined, but to prevent mixture from melting, do not overmix. Serve immediately or place in freezer.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Dr. Robert Rey of Body by Rey.

FNL dessert chocolate chili bohemia ice cream

Rick Bayless’ Chocolate Chile Bohemia Ice Cream
Serves 6

1 large pasilla negro chile, stemmed, seeded, deveined
1-1/3 cups half-and-half
2 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped into small pieces
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1-1/3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1-½ teaspoons pure vanilla, preferably Mexican
¼ cup Bohemia beer

In a small skillet heated over medium, toast the chile, pressing it flat against the skillet with a metal spatula until it is very aromatic—about 10 seconds per side. Place in a small saucepan, add the half-and-half, Mexican chocolate and the semi-sweet chocolate, and heat over medium until steaming, but not boiling. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes, then pour into a blender jar and process until the chile is completely pureed.

Set up a 4-quart saucepan, filled halfway with water, into which you can nestle a 3-quart stainless steel bowl. Bring the pot of water to a boil over high heat while you’re preparing the custard base. Reduce the temperature under the pot of boiling water to maintain a gentle simmer.

In the 3-quart stainless steel bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined, then whisk in the chile-infused chocolate mixture. Set the bowl of custard base over the simmering water and whisk frequently, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens noticeably, about 5 minutes. The custard is sufficiently cooked when it reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (You can also test it by dipping a wooden spoon into the custard, then running your finger through the custard: if the line holds clearly, the custard has thickened sufficiently.) For the finest texture, strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl.

Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Nestle the bowl of strained custard in the ice bath. Whisk the mixture until it is completely cool. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Stir the heavy cream, vanilla and Bohemia into the base. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a freezer container and freeze for several hours to firm.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Rick Bayless and Bohemia Beer.

FNL dessert tres leches

Three Milks Cake (Tres Leches)
Serves 12 to 14

Cake
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk Mixture
1½ cups whole milk
Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
Two 12-ounce cans evaporated milk

Meringue
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, another 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary.

Mix the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and stir to combine with a whisk or fork. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.

With the mixer on medium speed, add a quarter of the flour mixture and then a quarter of the milk mixture. Continue alternating between the two mixtures until they have both been completely added to the batter. Beat for a final 30 seconds to fully combine the batter. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly using a rubber spatula. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake will be a deep golden brown.  Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan, about 30 minutes.

Use a wooden skewer or other sharp, thin object to poke holes all over the top of the cake, including the edges and corners.  Combine the whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk in a bowl and whisk well to fully incorporate the thick sweetened condensed milk into the mixture. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the cooled cake. It may seem as if the cake will not be able to absorb all of the liquid, but keep going—it will all soak in. Allow the cake to rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the meringue.

Place the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the work bowl of a stand mixer or a metal mixing bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Stir the egg white mixture until the sugar and salt are dissolved and the egg whites are warm to the touch, about 4 minutes. The mixture will be a bit frothy and milky in color. Remove the bowl from the pot and beat on high speed (using the whisk attachment if you’re using a stand mixer) until the egg whites are stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes.

While the meringue is still warm, use a rubber spatula to spread it all over the top of the cake. For a decorative touch, create peaks of meringue by tapping the flat side of the spatula all over the topping. If you like, finish by caramelizing the surface of the meringue with a kitchen torch.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “Latin Grilling: Recipes to Share, from Argentine Asado to Yucatecan Barbecue and More” by Lourdes Castro, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

(Photo courtesy of Tara Donne © 2011)

Desserts with Latino Flair

Want a sweet way to celebrate  Hispanic Heritage month? Think about trying one of these delish meal-enders.