Cinco de Mayo 2015
Today would be a good day to be a high-school Spanish student. Today all the French and German students would watch you tote chips and salsa to class with jealousy (or Latin, Japanese & Arabic students if you went to a very privileged school with an eye toward the growing global economy). Today is Cinco de Mayo, and even if the historical connotations are fuzzy (you did read them in Spanish after all), one thing is clear: today is a Spanish class party day!
In thinking back to my own high school, Spanish class, cultural “immersions,” I recall one very late night, when months of procrastination hit me like a prickly cactus. I scoured the then very basic pages of the world wide web and attempted to finish a major report on Spain, taking the necessary breaks to lament my woes over AOL chat and catch the latest gossip to emerge in the hours since the end of the school day. The massive report would have been enough to bear for one night, but I also had to make tortilla bowls for the class.
The level of procrastination hedged on teaching me the error of my last-minute ways, but as always, everything somehow came together, i.e.: Mom enabled my habits and helped me with the tortilla bowls but not without her routine, “If you had only planned ahead…” I barely slept, scraped together my report and still managed to be the number one Spanish student. Like an alcoholic deluded into believing she is still in control, I failed to hit rock bottom and truly learn my lesson. At least I knew (and know) I have a problem. The next steps though…
Far from high school halls and Spanish class celebrations, I did manage to commemorate Cinco de Mayo in a timely manner with this festive themed brunch. This Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Tres Leches Cake was the sweet conclusion of the gathering, and though I should have shared this recipe with you sooner (my apologies), I hope you have a chance to indulge in a decadent, chocolaty bite and make a small nod to today’s festivities, even if you are late. Holidays are really flexible in my book anyway [spoken like a true procrastinator].
Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Tres Leches Cake
About This Recipe: Plan to bake this cake the day before you intend to serve it, since it needs to set overnight and soak up the chocolate liquid. My recipe begins with a spongey, chocolate, banana cake. Traditionally, the namesake three milks include evaporated milk, but I substituted coconut milk for a healthier twist. The chocolate mixture is poured over the cake right after baking, and the chocolate forms a rich pudding-like layer after setting overnight. The banana taste is subtle, and the coconut milk is indistinguishable, so if you don’t like coconut, you’ll still enjoy this version.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Tres Leches Cake
yield: 9 x 13 cake
2 cups organic whole-wheat pastry flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup pure cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) organic, unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing pan)
1-1/3 cups organic raw cane sugar
1 egg (organic/cage-free)
1 cup mashed ripened bananas, about 2 to 3 bananas
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic sour cream
Chocolate Milk Mixture
1 (14 oz) can organic, sweetened condensed milk
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped (such as Guittard’s Extra Dark Chips)
1 (12 oz) organic coconut milk
1/3 cup organic whipping cream or half-and-half
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
2-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (or honey), to taste
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste
Cocoa powder and/or cinnamon for dusting
Preheat oven to 350℉. Lightly grease a 9×13 glass baking dish with butter; set aside.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on high, until creamy; about 30-60 seconds.
Add egg, mashed bananas, and vanilla; beat until incorporated.
Alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream, starting and stopping with the flour mixture. Beat just until combined.
Transfer batter to prepared baking dish. Using an offset spatula, spread batter evenly.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a cooling rack, and using a skewer or tines of a fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
Combine the sweetened condensed milk and the chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat. Continue to whisk until the chocolate has melted. Whisk in the coconut milk, heavy cream (or half-and-half) and cinnamon.
Slowly pour or ladle spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture over the top of the cake. Let the cake absorb the liquid before adding more. Ladle the liquid onto the cake until all the chocolate mixture has been used. The cake will absorb any excess liquid while it chills.
Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. Before serving, top with whipped cream.
For the whipped cream, combine the heavy cream, the maple syrup (or honey) and the vanilla, in the chilled bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Use an offset spatula to spread the whipped cream over the cake.
Sprinkle with cocoa and/or cinnamon.