|Tres Leche Cake|
Joan of FOODalogue has started the year off with another armchair travel adventure with her Culinary Tour 2010 - South of the Border . I really enjoyed travelling with Joan last year and you will too!!!! If you haven't heard of this very popular event check out her site for all the round-ups of delicious recipes and stories by all the participants. This year she has featured the cuisine of 10 of our south-of-the-border neighbours. So far we have travelled to Mexico where we sipped on tequila and margaritas and enjoyed each others company virtually. Then we travelled to El Salvador and the "Ruta de las Flores" (Route of Flowers) where we enjoyed the fiesta atmosphere at the feria gastronómica (food festival) in a small mountain village. Each one of these destinations in her culinary tour challenges you to create a dish outside of your comfort zone and experience new taste and food sensations. You can also do a little armchair travelling and daydreaming through your tastebuds. Our next stop in our armchair travel is:
According to Wikipedia "Nicaragua is the largest nation in Central America, but also the least densely populated with a demographic similar in size to its smaller neighbors. It is located about midway between Mexico and Colombia, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Nicaragua ranges from the Atlantic Ocean on the nation's east coast, and the Pacific Ocean bordering the west. Nicaragua also possesses a series of islands and cays located in the Atlantic Ocean."
Nicaragua is a lush and tropical place. It is also the safest country in Central America with some of the friendliest people in the world.
"La comida Nica," as Nicaraguans call their cuisine, is a Latin/Creole mix of indigenous and Spanish dishes and ingredients. As with the other countries we have visited so far corn, beans, plantains, yuca and pork are popular ingredients here. Corn is a used frequently and you can always find it roasted and served throughout the countries by street vendors. Seafood is also common along the Caribbean coast. Although the food in Nicaragua is similar to the cuisine of it's neighbours it certainly has its own flair!!!! Typical dishes include nacatamales (smashed corn and potatoes wrapped in a banana leaf with pork and tomato), vigorón, indio viejo and gallo pinto (which is fried rice and pinto beans). Other special dishes include Mondongo (tripe soup), Rosquillas (a type of cheese and cornmeal biscuit), Picadillo (shredded beef) and Ajiaco (pork and tortilla dish) to name a few. Tortillas are a normal addition as well, and often used to scoop up the food instead of using utensils. Nicaraguans make extensive use of a wide variety of tropical fruits which grow in their temperate climate. Plantain is also often used in many dishes with fried plantain being a staple in many dishes.
If white sand beaches, surfing, and Salsa dancing all appeal to you, couple it up with some volunteer work as a ‘VolunTourist’ for Comunidad Connect on your trip to Nicaragua. The non-profit’s mission is promoting sustainable development in Nicaragua’s Pacific Southwest including local community projects.
Unique to this volunteer vacation however, is the fact that we were able to lodge with a Nicaraguan family as part of a homestay where you have the unique opportunity to experience local life...virtually of course. This was an incredible opportunity to taste the local culture and food and brush up on Spanish! We were able to choose from a variety of volunteer opportunities from planting trees, beach cleanups, agricultural projects or working with rural kids.
As volunteers we were able to enjoy the white sand beaches, go surfing, fishing, horseback riding, or just relax in town and watch an unforgettable sunset. Other activities included visits to museums and colonial sites, volcano hikes, Spanish classes, Salsa dancing, and even authentic cooking classes. Because Nicaragua is not as “discovered” as other Central American countries, VolunTourists can enjoy these incredible sites and activities in peace and tranquility.
“What I liked best was the breathtaking natural scenery that surrounded me everyday, as well as the details particular to San Juan del Sur, from the packaging of candies, soda in plastic bags in the little pulperias to the people watching, the open doors to people’s homes, the music coming from the giant stereo systems in the living rooms, the hammocks and the smells of earth, ocean, fried food and flowers.”
So what would I bring to the table on Joan's Virtual Culinary Tour??????Dessert of course!!!!!I can't wait to see what the others have brought to the table this time around on our virtual tour. I know it sounds as though I have already visited this beautiful country with this post, but perhaps that is just wishful thinking. For now I will be content to travel with Joan in my armchair...for now.
"Pastel de Tres Leches" or "Tres Leches Cake" is named for the three milks in the soaking liquid (Leche means milk in Spanish). The three milks in the soaking sauce for Tres Leches are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. In this case I added a little rum and vanilla to make it shine. The heavy cream is also whipped up to use as the topping. Due to the rich ingredients and the fact that it is soaked in a creamy syrup, Tres Leches Cake is extremely dense and moist, almost like a custard. This is an amazing recipe which I adapted from one I found on The Pioneer Woman Cooks. The three milks, when combined, create just the right sweetness, density and "mouth feel" for a rich cake, making it moist but not mushy. It is definitely at it's best when allowed to sit overnight to allow the liquids to be soaked in completely.
The famous cake of three milks is believed to have originated in Nicaragua. With the cuisines so closely knit with it's neighbours there is dispute over where it was first created. It is thought to have come from Nicaragua by most historians. This cake is very popular in Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. Evaporated milk and condensed milk were sold throughout Central and South America and even the Caribbean because it does not need refrigeration.
Although the cake can be served right away it is even better the next day. Just be careful to cover it well and not add the whipped cream topping until the day you are going to eat this. The cake will absorb any odours in your refrigerator.
**Tres Leches Cake**
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoons salt
5 whole eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cups milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
¼ cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon rum
For the Topping:
1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
3 tablespoons sugar ( I used icing sugar)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.
Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.
Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, rum and vanilla in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.
Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for a minimum of 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries, or as in this case drizzle with dulce de leche. Cut into squares and serve.
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