This month we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th to October 15th. During this month, America celebrates the cultural and historical contributions of the people who came to this country from Mexico, Central and South America, and Spain. September 15 is a day of celebration in many Latin-American countries, since they declared their independence between the 15th and 18th of September. Some of these countries include Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.As someone who was born and raised in Mexico, I've found that there aren't many differences in how people from other Latin-American countries were raised; our roots, customs, and traditions are very alike. It’s actually funny when you meet someone from another country and find out that you watched the same TV shows or ate the same snacks as kids.
At the end of the day, it’s the simple things that connect us the most, like enjoying a cup of coffee with our friends and family. When you invite someone over for a cup of coffee in Latin America, you know that hours of good conversation will follow. I remember that my mom would always offer visitors something cold to drink or a hot cup of coffee, depending on the weather. And when I say “coffee”, I don’t mean the kind that you grind and brew in a coffee machine. No, we were brought up drinking Nescafe. Yes, Nescafe, the granulated coffee that only needs hot water and “La Lechera” to make a good cup of “Café con Leche” almost instantaneously.
Even today, you can go to any Latin store and see people buying the exact same things that you’ve lived with for as long as you can remember, products like Chocolate Abuelita, Nescafe (instant coffee mix), and La Lechera (condensed milk). All these products are now readily available almost everywhere, starting from your local Wal-Mart store.
To celebrate the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s make a cake, one that’s associated with birthday parties, graduations, baptisms, and all kind of celebrations (I guess we always have a good excuse to celebrate!). Many people love Pastel de Tres Leches. Some trace its origin to Nicaragua, others to Mexico, but I guess what matters is how good it tastes and how easy it is to make it!
“La Lechera”: that is the name of the condensed milk made by Nestle. “Lechera” means “milk lady”, and if you look at the picture on the can, you can see that there’s a lady holding a pot of milk on her head. #NuestroSabor #CollectiveBias
- Butter to grease the pan
- 1 ¼ cup All Purpose Flour, sifted (plus extra for dusting pan)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt*
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (1 stick)
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 whole eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
FOR THE MILK MIXTURE
- 1 can condensed milk NESTLE LA LECHERA
- 1 can Evaporated milk CARNATION
- 1 cup of Heavy Cream or 1 can of “Media Crema Nestle”
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 Tablespoons rum or brandy (optional)
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream ( the one you buy at the dairy fridge section)
- 4 Tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Canned fruit like peaches, mangos or fresh fruit like strawberries and kiwis. If using fruit to decorate, add just before serving.
- *If using salted butter, omit the 1/4-teaspoon of salt.
1. Turn oven at 325 degrees F. Make sure to adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease and flour a 13-by-9 inch pan and set aside.
2. Place flour, baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl and whisk together to mix.
3. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs one by one on a medium speed, for about 45-60 seconds, and slowly add the sugar as in a light dusting, until all sugar is incorporated. The egg mix will be very fluffy and turning a light yellow.
4. Reduce speed of mixer, and slowly add the melted butter and then the vanilla. Keep the mixer running in low.
5. Add the flour in batches and mix until combined. You can also do this step using an spatula and gently fold the flour into the egg batter. DO NOT OVER MIX.
6. Transfer batter to your prepared pan using a rubber spatula to help you spread the evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake looks light golden or a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cake.
7. Remove the cake and transfer to a wired rack to cool completely. Poke the top of the cake using a toothpick, skewer or fork all over.
8. Whisk condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream together with the vanilla and rum in a sauce pan, warm over low heat until completed mixed. Remove from heat and set aside.
9. Once the cake has cool pour the milk mixture over the cake, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerated for 4 hours or overnight.
10. Place heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and mix on medium speed until soft peaks form. This will take about 2. I usually place the mixer attachment in the freezer and the bowl in the fridge before making whipping cream. This trick always works to form a smooth and fluffy frosting.
11. To assembly the cake, spread the whipped cream over the cake. Decorate with fruit as desired. Refrigerate to chill until ready to serve. Remember, if decorating with fruit, do not add until ready to serve. Enjoy your cake with a cup of hot Chocolate Abuelita (almost every Walmart store carries these products).