May 5th comes and goes every year, but I’m usually caught off guard about Cinco de Mayo celebrations. This minor Mexican holiday has become one of America’s favorite excuses for a party—gringos add a few chips and salsa to help that pitcher of margaritas. Soon, the high-school Spanish starts flowing.
Since I’m ahead of the holiday this year, perhaps I’ll make a Mexican inspired dinner accompanied by blue agave and ice. Most importantly, I’m excited to make a Mexican-inspired dessert for this holiday.
I have learned from my baking experiments that when you add booze to a cake, the comfort quota increases geometrically to the amount of alcohol added. At the same time, subtlety shrinks as comfort jumps. That’s okay in this case. After all, we’re celebrating the Mexican Army’s defeat of French forces in at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, not the actual Mexican Independence Day (September 15 & 16) commemorating the more important War of Independence.
September is too far away, so let’s celebrate now—I’m making a Torta de Margarita (Margarita Cake), a classic Tres Leches Cake laced with tequila and lime. After setting in the refrigerator for a day, the consumption of a slice of this cake is probably equivalent of a small margarita.
Torta de Margarita
adapted from Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
3 large eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar (5-3/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons whole milk
7 ounces condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup tequila
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉. Line a baking 8-inch square pan w parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. set aside.
2. Place eggs, sugar and lime zest in the bowl of a stand-mixer with whisk attachment, whisk on medium-high speed until thick and pale about 3 minutes. Gently fold in flour mixture then add milk and thoroughly combine.
3. Bake for 25-28 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cake should be slightly over-baked to develop flavor and a sturdy structure. Loosen side of cake with sharp knife.
4. While cake is baking, combine condensed milk and sour cream, whisk until smooth. Whisk in evaporated milk, whole milk and tequila; set aside.
5. Using toothpick, poke several rows of holes on top of the cake. Slowly pour tequila milk evenly over the top. Set cake on cooling rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Wrap cake in pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
6. Cut cake into squares and serve with sweetened whipped cream.