Tag Archives: gluten-free Mexican

Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake

tres leches

Tres leches cake is not normally something I associate with this time of year. Around this time of year, I am usually focused on pecan pies, pumpkin everything, and soups of all kinds. Tres leches is usually the furthest thing from my mind.  

Of course, that all changed when we made last-minute plans to spend Hallowe’en evening with friends. They were planning a Mexican-themed dinner. (serving carnitas tacos, Mexican rice, and bacon-wrapped, cheese-and-jalapeno-stuffed shrimp. YUM.) I decided to bring along some homemade refried beans, a homemade salsa, and if I could pull it off, a gluten-free tres leches cake.

If you have never experienced the wonder that is tres leches cake, let me tell you, it’s amazing. Essentially, it is a sponge cake, baked and then poked full of holes, and soaked with three milks (hence the name) – whole milk (or cream – I used half-and-half), evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. And then, to top it off, it’s frosted with sweetened whipped cream. It’s moist without being soggy, and ever-so-creamy, rich, and delightful. Set your diets aside, because this certainly isn’t a “healthy” treat. But sometimes, you just need a bit of decadence. And this cake is so worth it.

When I started to make this cake, I honestly wasn’t sure if it would turn out. I’m still somewhat of a novice when it comes to gluten-free baking, but recently, I’ve become a bit more confident in understanding how certain gluten-free flours behave, and the role that xanthan gum plays in binding. My confidence has allowed me to break free from strictly following a recipe, and instead “feel” my way through baking. (something I wasn’t even comfortable doing when baking before going gluten-free!) Of course, when something turns out, I’m still so astonished. After I made this cake, and ate a piece, I exclaimed “Wow, this doesn’t suck!”

Aah, such high hopes I have, for these experiments of mine.

But truly, it didn’t suck. In fact, the flavor is absolutely wonderful, and the cake is not soggy in the slightest. I think that next time, I’ll reduce the milks by about 1/2 cup (I’ve written the recipe below making this change for you), because it was almost too wet, but the cake held up just fine, in spite of the amount of milks it was holding. But honestly, I could stuff myself silly with this sweet treat. It’s that good.

Tres Leches Cake, adapted from Baking for John, No Recipes, and Masa Assassin

For the cake:

5 eggs, separated

1 c sugar

3 T butter

1 t vanilla extract

1 t orange zest

Pinch of cinnamon

 ½ c sorghum flour

½ c masa harina

1 ½ t baking powder

1 t xanthan gum

¼ c milk

½ t cream of tartar

Pinch salt

For the milks:

1/2 c half-and-half

12 oz can evaporated milk

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

For the topping:

1 c whipping cream

¼ c sugar

1 t vanilla

Sliced strawberries and mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 13X9 baking dish. In a large bowl, beat ¾ c sugar, egg yolks, and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the vanilla extract, orange zest, cinnamon, sorghum flour, masa harina, baking powder, xanthan gum, and milk.

In another large bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks, adding cream of tartar after about 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining ¼ c sugar and continue beating until egg whites are glossy and firm, but not dry.

Gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture. Pour this batter into the baking dish, spreading out evenly.  Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Pierce cake all over with a toothpick.

Whisk together the milks, and pour evenly over cake. Allow to cool for a bit, and cover and place in refrigerator for 4 hours, up to overnight.

Before serving,  place the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer bowl and whisk to stiff peaks, and nice and thick. Spread over cake and top with strawberries and mint leaves.

Allow to chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

tres leches2

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Filed under Baked goods, Desserts, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian

Gorditas with Shredded Beef (Gorditas con Carne Deshebrada)

gordita2

Have I told you before that I love Mexican food? Well, in case you didn’t hear…I love Mexican food. I could eat it every day. Around here, of course, the most abundant “Mexican” food is Tex-Mex. Gooey, cheesy enchiladas, crunchy tacos, chile con queso and lots of flour tortillas. Not that there’s anything wrong with that cuisine, but sometimes I want real Mexican food. When this craving hits, I often turn to my Diana Kennedy or Rick Bayless cookbooks.

This recipe was the result of one such craving. Didn’t know what I wanted, but I started thumbing through Rick Bayless’s Mexico One Plate At A Time, and stopped at this gorditas recipe. I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to experience true gorditas (once or twice at a hole-in-the-wall place – of which I cannot remember the name – in Oak Cliff), but I knew I just had to make these. Crispy corn masa pockets, stuffed with a saucy shredded beef? What could be more wonderful than that?

Of course, this is not a quick recipe. Not for the weeknights when you want something on the table in a flash. (You could, however, make the beef ahead of time, and even go so far as pan-bake the gorditas and refrigerate until you were ready to fry up the gorditas.) However, if you have the time, I highly recommend making these…they are so worth it. The meat is saucy, with just a hint of heat, very savory. I substituted Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking & Pancake Mix for the flour, and the gorditas came out with a great, slightly chewy and crisp texture. As for the filling, feel free to experiment a bit. If you have leftover shredded pork or chicken, use that. (with a tomatillo salsa, perhaps?) I contemplated a grilled shrimp and cheese concoction, I might have to make that soon. Or you could go vegetarian, with some mushrooms, or a mix of sauteed poblanos and cheese…the possibilities are endless. If you do come up with a good idea (or two), tell me! I’d love to hear about it.

(Adapted From Rick Bayless’s Mexico: One Plate At A Time)

For the beef:

1 1/2 lbs boneless beef chuck steak, cut into 4 pieces

3 small white onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 T vegetable oil, plus oil to a depth of 1/2 inch for frying

1 28-0z can of good-quality whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped (I pureed them)

3 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

1 t chipotle chili powder

Salt to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the meat with 2 quarts salted water, about 1/3 of the onions and 1/2 the garlic. Simmer until meat is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain, reserving the broth for another use. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it into coarse strands with your fingers or two forks.

Wash and dry the saucepan, set over medium heat, and add the 1 tablespoon oil. When hot, add 1/2 of the remaining onions and cook until golden, about 6 minutes, then stir in the remaining garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, chiles, and chipotle powder and cook until most of the juice has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the meat and simmer for a few more minutes. Taste and season with salt as needed. Keep warm.

For the gorditas:

1 3/4 c powdered masa harina mixed with 1 c plus 2 T warm water

1/3 c Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking & Pancake Mix

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 c grated Mexican queso anejo (can substitute grated Romano or Parmesan)

1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a heavy cast-iron or other heavy nonstick griddle over medium. Knead the masa to make it pliable, adding a little water if necessary to achieve a soft-cookie-dough consistency. Knead in the Pamela’s baking mix, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Divide the dough into 10 portions and roll into balls; cover with plastic to keep from drying out.

Line a tortilla press with two pieces of plastic cut to fit the plates (a food storage bag works well for this). Gently press a ball of dough between the sheets of plastic to about 4 inches in diameter (about 1/4 inch thick). Peel off the top sheet of plastic, flip the gordita, uncovered side down, onto the fingers of one hand and gently peel off the second piece of plastic. In one flowing movement, roll the gordita off your hand and onto the heated skillet. Bake for 1 1/2 minutes, then flip and bake for 1 1/2 minutes on the other side. The gordita will be lightly browned and crusty on the top and bottom, but still a little uncooked on the sides. Remove and set on a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining gorditas.

In the cast-iron or other deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium to medium-high until the oil is at about 350 degrees. One by one, fry the gorditas, turning them over after they have been in the oil about 15 seconds, and cooking them for a total of about 45 second, or until crisp but not hard. Most will have puffed up a little. Drain on paper towels.

Once the are all fried, use a knife to cut a slit in the thin edge of each one about halfway around its circumference, opening a pocket. Fill each gordita with about 1/4 cup shredded meat, a little onion, grated cheese, and cilantro.

Serves 10 as a snack, or 4-5 as a meal.

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Filed under Appetizers, Beef, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes