Friday, May 4, 2018

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Germany

What’s cooking? Dulce de Leche and Spicy Pineapple-Tequila Sorbet

Yes, the Kitchen Goddess is in Germany, but that doesn’t stop her from wishing you a happy Cinco de Mayo! I’m not really sure if they recognize May 5 as having any special significance where I am – we’re just getting over celebrating King’s Day with the people in Amsterdam, and one national festival in a week is quite enough for me.

King's Day Revelers in Amsterdam
King’s Day in the Netherlands is a celebration of the King’s birthday, and the entire country parties, but nowhere as intensely as in Amsterdam. Everyone wears something orange, and many dye their hair orange, in  honor of the House of Orange-Nassau, which rules over the Netherlands. Orange plastic hats, orange synthetic leis, and orange wigs are everywhere – it’s sufficiently well-known that the population of Amsterdam doubles on that day. A day filled with eating and drinking and singing and drinking and parading in the streets and drinking and even a bit of marijuana smoking in the streets... Let’s just say that, unlike the Kitchen Goddess’s Dutch ancestors, these Dutch know how to party. The fellows in this photo are typical of the sort of over-the-top costuming that takes place.

By contrast, Cinco de Mayo isn’t nearly as significant of a holiday in Mexico as it is in the States, where it has become widely recognized by Mexican-Americans as a celebration of their heritage. And since the rest of us enjoy a good celebration as much as anyone – especially if it involves food and alcoholic beverages – you’ll find a large number of non-Mexican-Americans joining in the fun.

There’s nothing like dessert to help you celebrate. I served these at a recent group dinner party where the theme was Mexican cuisine. I give you two ways to make dulce de leche [pronounced DOOL-say day LAY-chay], which is sort of like the Mexican version of Nutella – a delicious caramel spread made from (1) milk and sugar, or (2) sweetened condensed milk. The second way is so easy it’s almost laughable, but being the KG, I of course had to try it both ways. The first produces a deeper, darker, thicker caramel, but given the ease of the second way, I’ll probably choose that when I do it again.

Spicy Pineapple and Tequila Sorbet

Adapted from Max Falcowitz at

For this sorbet, there’s nothing tricky at all and you will love the sweet-tart flavor of the pineapple-lime combination. I reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe and doubled the lime, but you should play with the flavors however you like. The KG couldn’t really taste the tequila, even after doubling the amount called for in the original recipe (on the theory that you can never have too much tequila), but the alcohol does help keep the sorbet from freezing too hard.

Makes 4-5 cups.

2 pounds peeled, cored, and chunked ripe pineapple (about 1½  pineapples before trimming)
kosher salt
¼ cup water
¾ cup sugar
1½  teaspoons Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons silver tequila
Juice of two limes (or to taste), plus zest of one of the limes (using a rasp)

KG note on pineapple: I had no problem finding already trimmed, ripe pineapple at my grocery, but if you are not so lucky and find only semi-ripe pineapple, apparently you can toss it with ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and bake it at 450º in a glass baking dish for 1-2 minutes, or until pineapple is sweet and aromatic. Do not overbake.

Load the pineapple chunks with the water into a blender and purée until very smooth (at least 2 minutes). You should have about 4 cups of juice. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until sugar dissolves. Add salt to taste.

Pour the purée into a bowl or plastic container and cover tightly. Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours, or until very cold.

Process in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Chill in an airtight container in your freezer for 2-3 hours before serving.

Dulce de Leche (two methods)

Adapted from

I served this as a dipping sauce with churros – the Mexican equivalent to doughnuts, but you can also stir some into your coffee, or drizzle it over ice cream, or spread it on toast. You may find yourself eating it straight with a spoon – that’s okay, too.

Makes 1¼-1½ cups

For the classic method:

4 cups milk
1¼ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large (3-4 quarts) heavy saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, and baking soda.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat enough to simmer the liquid, uncovered, for 1½ to 1¾ hours, until it thickens and caramelizes. For the first hour, you will need to stir only occasionally and make sure the mix doesn’t settle on the bottom. After that first hour, the milk will begin to caramelize more intensely, and you’ll need to stir more often, to avoid burning.

After 30 minutes...

After one hour...
After 90 minutes.
When the mixture is well caramelized, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Kitchen Goddess Recipe for Disaster: If you are making dulce de leche in the condensed milk method and asking someone – like your darling husband – to pour the water into the pan for the water bath, be sure to let them know that it goes into the larger, roasting pan and not the pie pan containing the milk. Because there’s no way to cook it down enough to get rid of all that extra water and you will end up with a small marital crisis on your hands and no way to get a picture of the final product unless you start over with another can of milk, which you might not have. Just saying.

Sweetened condensed milk method:

One 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (not the same as plain evaporated milk, which has no added sugar)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Move one of the racks to the middle of the oven.

Pour the contents of the can of sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch pie pan (deep-dish if you have one) and place it in a roasting pan with sides at least 2 inches deep. Cover the pie pan tightly with foil. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the pie plate.

Bake the milk in the middle of the oven for 1½ hours, checking the water level at the 45-minute mark and adding additional water if necessary. Check milk at the end of the 1½ hours – if it’s not thick and brown, replace the foil and cook another 15 minutes.

Once the milk is thick and brown, remove pie plate from the water bath and cool, uncovered. Makes about 1¼ cups.

Dulce de leche will keep for a month, refrigerated. You can also freeze it. Even better, make Dulce de Leche Ice Cream, from this recipe.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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