The New Year arrived, or to be more accurate 2011 ended, with a Latin flavour, a messy kitchen and a lot of chocolate.
We were invited to a Mexican themed dinner and had the tricky task of producing an appropriate dessert. Fajitas, Burritos, Tacos, the country certainly packs a powerful punch when it comes to savoury courses. But sweets? I was stumped. And as when it comes to desserts Mr H’s kitchen competencies fall as flat as a cold soufflé, it was up to me to rise to the challenge.
I picked the brains of a colleague who had lived there for a year, emails flew across the Atlantic to family in the tex-mex loving States. Plenty of ideas came flooding back, but no one seemed to have a trusted recipe. So I planned a team of deserts in the hope the one might hit a home run.
Like today’s Chocoholics, the Aztecs and Mayans deemed cocoa sacred. So it was only right that it should an integral part of a Mexican dessert selection.
I once worked with a chef who swore that chocolate was the key ingredient in chilli so I decided to try it the other way and made Sam Stern’s Chilli-Chocolate Orange cake http://tinyurl.com/4th3rl . Go for the bitter icing and team it with cream, lightly whipped with a pinch of cinnamon. It was rich, moist and not for the faint hearted. Those Mesoamerican chocoholics would have approved.
For something a little lighter (it was after all only a matter of days since I removed myself from my parents cheese platter, and that was only because the return to work forced me to put 100 miles between me and the oozing brie) I opted for chocolate meringues. Now I am a sucker for a descriptive recipe and the one in my Aunt’s recipe book claimed the name Suspiros came from the contented sighs of the nuns who made them. Unfortunately words exceeded the reality. The chocolate sat bitterly in the centre where chewy, swirls of sticky meringue should have been. A recipe to be reworked…watch this space.
The unexpected champion of the Mexican medley was the wedding cakes http://tinyurl.com/6367st . These are in fact crumbly, melty, shortbread-like biscuits rolled in drifts of snowy icing sugar.
In the end, as is the problem with New Year, the margaritas were the real winners of the night and food became a hazy afterthought. But the array of leftovers has proved the perfect annectote to a 1st January sore head.
So the verdict on Mexican deserts…no hay problema! Now where are those paracetamols…