FIESTA BAKES FOR CINCO DE MAYO

A small collection of goodies, all inspired by a Mexican fiesta… Cupcakes, Chocolate-Chipotle Cookies, Macarons (filled with Mexican chocolate ganache), and Chocolate-covered Oreos.

FIESTA CUPCAKES

Any vanilla cupcake recipe (or chocolate) will work. Refer to this post for the buttercream, which was divided in two unequal portions: a larger portion dyed pink, and a smaller portion dyed orange. Then, a petal tip like 102 was used to add the icing in layers, as shown below. Any combination of colors will work, this one seemed appropriate for the Cinco de Mayo theme.


CHOCOLATE-CHIPOTLE COOKIES

I am so smitten by these! Not at all complicated to put together, start with your favorite chocolate cookie recipe (mine is definitely this one), paint with Americolor white before baking to get the crackled effect. Then use Royal icing dyed with flesh tone or ivory to pipe a round for the face. Use any colors you want to make the wavy decorations. Once that sets, you can paint the face and hair, add the arms, and you are done. You can see the steps below.

They make for a real fun set, and will please those who prefer a modest amount of icing on their cookies.

Many colors will work, and I also made a batch with sugar cookies instead of chocolate, with a pink and orange skirt.


MEXICAN CHOCOLATE MACARONS

For these macs, I used my default French meringue method (recipe here), divided the batter into three portions, a large pink, a medium size yellow, and a smaller orange. Piped a circle of pink, went with yellow in the center, then orange to form three concentric circles. Baked the shells and decorated with Royal icing. The ganache was made with


4 oz semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne pepper


Once the ganache cooled, I whipped it with a handheld mixer for a minute or so. You cannot go too long or the whole thing will turn grainy. You just want to incorporate some air into the ganache.


FIESTA CHOCOLATE COVERED OREOS

These are so much fun to make! I used chocolate transfer sheets cut to fit the inside of the mold, as described in this post. I love this colorful pattern, that would look good also on a white chocolate background.

HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!

ONE YEAR AGO: Thai-Meatballs Over Wilted Bok-Choy

TWO YEARS AGO: Asparagus with Gunpowder Masala

THREE YEARS AGO: The Home Bakers Collective, April Project

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ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Triple Chocolate Brownies

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THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Bite-sized Chocolate Pleasure

CINCO DE MAYO DINNER CELEBRATION

Dancers at the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival i...

Image via Wikipedia

If you love Mexican food, then Cinco de Mayo is a perfect excuse to invite some  friends over and make a tasty dinner at home. The holiday is celebrated with more enthusiasm by Mexicans living in the US than by their compatriots in Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with Mexican independence (that happened in 1810), but instead celebrates a huge Mexican victory over the French army in the Battle of Puebla,  36 years later.  Outnumbered and outgunned,  all odds were against the Mexicans, but they pulled off a spectacular victory, and now celebrate the date with all the pride it deserves.

Because we are living in California this year, I want to make a special dinner with a truly authentic recipe that’s appropriate for Cinco de Mayo.  Mexican cuisine is famous for moles : sauces that may be complex, time consuming to prepare, and a bit intimidating for the unfamiliar (such as myself).   After a lot of research I settled on  a recipe for chicken in peanut mole sauce, and made a “trial run” this past weekend.   Tasty, tasty, tasty….  And, by the way, if you throw a Cinco de Mayo party, make sure to serve a batch of guacamole for starters.  My husband’s recipe es muy deliciosa!

POLLO EN MOLE DE CACAHUATE
Chicken in Peanut Mole Sauce
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Mexican Cooking)

1 (4-pound) stewing chicken, cut up
8 cups water
4 stalks celery with leaves
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 sprigs parsley
2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon granules
1 tsp salt (+ more for final seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (10-ounce) tomatoes with green chiles, drained
2 slices white bread, torn in pieces
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
4 whole cloves
3 whole black peppercorns
1 (1/2-inch stick) cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 small clove garlic, minced

Place the chicken pieces in a large pan or Dutch oven with water. Add celery, carrot, onion, parsley, bouillon granules, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over very gentle heat for 2 hours or until the chicken is tender. Don’t let the water boil, make sure it stays at a constant simmer.

Take the chicken pieces from the pan (remove the skin if you like) and season it lightly with salt. Place the pieces in a baking dish. Strain the broth; skim off fat. Reserve 1 + 1/2 cups of the broth for the sauce. Let it cool slightly before proceeding with the recipe.

Make the mole sauce: in a blender or food processor place the reserved chicken broth, tomatoes with green chiles, bread, and peanut butter. Cover and blend until completely smooth. Place in a saucepan.

With mortar and pestle (or in a spice grinder) crush cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon well; add to saucepan along with chili powder and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring often.

Spoon the peanut mole sauce over the chicken pieces in casserole. Bake, covered, in 350-degree F. oven 30 to 40 minutes or till heated through. Remove the cover and run it under the broiler for a few minutes if you want a little more color.  Serve the chicken over white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

for an oldie but goodie from Cake, click here

Comments:  Don’t use a small, fryer-type chicken for this recipe, or you’ll  end up with dry and tasteless meat.  You need a stewing chicken, in all its plumpness, to stand up to the long cooking;   at the same time it will give the broth an intense, deep flavor.  You can freeze the leftover broth for use later, just remember it has a little salt already added to it.  Even using the correct size of chicken, make sure the cooking liquid is kept at only a gentle simmer.  I’d say this is the most important point to keep in mind when making this recipe.

The mole sauce seemed a tad too spicy when it finished simmering, but it mellowed during the final baking. The small amount of bread gives it that extra substance, so that the dish, as my husband stated quite well,  “is Mexican comfort food at its best.”

My first mole adventure will definitely not be the last…

HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!

ONE YEAR AGO: Thom Leonard’s Country French Bread

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