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Help - Cinco de Mayo dessert ideas? (not flan)

Hi Chowhounds -

I'm looking for some fun dessert ideas for Cinco de Mayo that don't involve the usual suspects such as flan or sopapillas. Non-alcoholic versions are appreciated as one person at our party is expecting.


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  1. Mexican chocolate, "chilied" mango desserts, Mexican groceries often have tropical fruit puree frozen that make good ice creams, or ice cream sauces. One of my favorite things is sweet corn ice cream. I can get it hear made "Azul" brand, but you can make it too. SOOO good and unexpected. Serve with spicy chocolate sauce and coconut cookies...mmmm. Cajeta on anything, but you can do cajeta crepes... I love Cinco de Mayo!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jsaimd

      Do you think I could make a homemade version of sweet corn ice cream using Trader Joe's canned sweet corn (perhaps pureed?) and a custard base? Would you add in any other spices or adjust the sugar levels? I love the uniqueness of sweet corn ice cream, can't say I've ever seen that one before!

    2. How about tres leches cake? You can do a search on the board for recipes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: farmersdaughter

        Those are really good. (And FWIW, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and rum make a really tasty drizzle)

      2. I've never had leftover empanadas. Try pumpkin with anise filling.

        1 Reply
        1. re: heatherkay

          guava and cream cheese make a nice dessert filling for empanadas as well

        2. Real Gelatines.... Tres Leches, Sherry, Coconut, Pecan

          Rustic Mexican Candies.... Fudge (Vanilla, Coconut, Chocolate, Cajeta), Spiced Tamarind, Candied Fruits / Root Vegetables

          Sorbets / Ice Creams.... there are > 500 or so flavors common around Mexico I can certainly provide some interesting ideas

          Crepes with Cajeta Sauce & Pecans

          Wheatless Plaintain Empanadas

          Exotic Smoothies... Cactus with Pineapple, Mamey, Zapote Negro etc.,

          1. Have you seen this grilled pound cake with tropical fruits from Food & Wine?

            1 Reply
            1. re: morebubbles

              Oooh, that looks delicious. I bet I could use the chocolate sauce on jsaimd's sweet corn ice cream...

            2. One of my favorite desserts is good ol' rice pudding made with cane sugar and lots of cinnamon.

              We used to get that and cajeta for simple desserts.
              If you are in the mood to bake, try biscochos or mexican wedding cookies.

              1. When I took a cooking class in Oaxaca last fall, we made a Banana Pecan Ice Cream - bananas, brown sugar, heavy cream & chopped pecans. Yum! I have the recipe, if you'd like it....

                4 Replies
                1. re: jdubboston

                  Oh yes please! I'm clearing room in the freezer for my ice cream maker bowl immediately. That sounds fantastic.

                  1. re: ExercisetoEat

                    Banana Pecan Ice Cream serves 8-10
                    from Casa Sagrada Guesthouse in Teotitlan de Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico
                    8 ripe bananas, peeled & frozen
                    3/4 c grated piloncillo lightly packed (this is mexican brown sugar)
                    1 TB water
                    1/2 c heavy cream (or use whipping cream, creme fraiche or yogurt)
                    1/2 c finely chopped pecans, toasted until fragrant
                    melt sugar & water in a small saucepan over low heat until syrupy, remove from hea & cool to room temp
                    roughly chop bananas & blend with sugar syrup & cream in blender
                    add banana mixture to ice cream machine, following machine's directions, allow the machine to blend the ice cream a bit, and then add the pecans
                    since the mixture is already quite cold, it should only take about 10 min to freeze
                    transfer to container & let set in freezer for another 30 min before serving

                    1. re: jdubboston

                      Wow, that sounds terrific. Thanks for sharing!

                  2. Churros! Serve with Mexican Hot Chocolate

                    Recipe I want to try: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/284246

                    1. Mamaey ice cream with a bittersweet chocolate sauce with a hint of cinnamon is to die for. Fresh mamey are hard to find but the frozen pulp is often available in latin groceries. A flovor like no other. Can't get mamey? Try mango.

                      1. Hibiscus granita - you can get the dried hibiscus in mexican markets - it makes a deep ruby red granita - you can also add a little citrus juice for some added flavor.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: howchow

                          That's a great idea. I assume that you steep the hibiscus in hot water and sugar to make a "tea" of sorts and then put it in the ice cream maker?

                          1. re: ExercisetoEat

                            Yes, steep as a tea and then add sugar to make a simple syrup - hten into the ice cream maker - Rick Bayless has a recipe from his show One Plate at a Time - last season I think. I have made it (but just eyeing the amounts) and it is super yummy. I add lime juice.

                            1. re: ExercisetoEat

                              exactly - except i prefer to make the granita in a large tray or bowl in the freezer and do the forking method every 30 minutes after freezing begins - the end result is much nicer and keeps better and longer - whenever i have tried granita in the ice cream maker the result is a little slushy and then just freezes into a mass if not eaten immediately.

                              1. re: howchow

                                Just wanted to report back that I gave a go at the Hibiscus granita. The flavor was fantastic! My ratio of sugar was a bit off, and I ended up with more of a sorbet consistency that was a bit too sweet, but overall I would definitely give it a try again. If you have a small, overfilled freezer, I wouldn't recommend using a tray - go for the bowl! I think I'm going to find pink sticky substances on my frozen items indefinitely....
                                Thanks everyone for the wonderful dessert ideas. I definitely won't wait until the next Cinco de Mayo to make several of the recipes.

                            2. re: howchow

                              These are amazing - Chipotle Chocolate Cinnamon cupcakes. They're unexpectedly spicy (think warm after-burn, not an immediate hit), but the chipotle is definitely not out of place with chocolate and cinnamon:


                              1. re: klynn

                                How about something kind of unusual? Capirotada, a kind of Mexican bread pudding with pecans, raisins, and cheese, both farmers cheese and monterey jack, with cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with whipped cream.

                                1. re: lrostron

                                  Sounds like something I'd love! If you have it, I'd love the recipe for that.

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    Sorry for the delay, but here it is:

                                    1 lb. stale white bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
                                    1 stick of unsalted butter
                                    3 tablespoons canola oil
                                    2 cups light brown sugar
                                    1 cup water
                                    1 cinnamon stick (3-inch or 7.5 cm in length)
                                    1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
                                    1 cup raisins
                                    1/2 cup farmer cheese
                                    1/3 cup shredded monterrey cheese
                                    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                                    1 tablespoon grated orange peel
                                    1-1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
                                    1/2 teaspoon cloves
                                    3 large eggs, separated
                                    1 quart whole milk
                                    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
                                    1 cup whipping cream (optional, for topping)

                                    Preheat oven to 350 F (175 degrees C). Generously butter a 9" x 13" baking dish.


                                    Recipe Instructions:

                                    In large mixing bowl, place the pieces of bread. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and mix with 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Drizzle butter mixture over the bread, tossing to mix thoroughly. Place bread pieces on cookie sheet, and place under broiler until toasted lightly brown, turning as needed. Remove from broiler and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the water, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil, letting boil for about 5 minutes until caramel in color and of a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and set aside.
                                    In a large mixing bowl, combine the raisins, pecans, cheeses, and toasted bread pieces. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cloves, add orange and lemon peels, mix and transfer to prepared baking dish.
                                    Whisk together the remaining oil and butter, with the brown sugar syrup. Drizzle over the bread. Place in preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
                                    In mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually beat in the milk and vanilla. Pour over the baked bread, and return to oven for 40 minutes until the top of the custard is golden-brown.
                                    Serve while still warm. You can whip the whipping cream and use that as a topping for the bread pudding (optional).

                                    1. re: lrostron

                                      I think of a capirotada as the sweet cousin to Thanksgiving stuffing - bread, fruits and nuts, moistened with a brown sugar syrup. According to one source, left over rolls of the sort used for tortas (Mexican sandwiches) are preferred, though this is one of those dishes that has as many versions as there are cooks.

                                      With dry crusty bread the main trick is moistening all the bread evenly. A wide variety of fruits can be used, even tomatoes. Though, I think I will skip the dried apricots next time - their flavor is too strong.


                                      1. re: lrostron

                                        Excellent, thanks so much for taking the time to post that! I'll be sure to report back when I make it. It sounds delicious.

                              2. Did you check out epicurios.com? It is a wonderful recipe site, just type in Cinco de Mayo desserts and boom... I have made a ton of recipes from there. (at least the ones that have 95% and higher ratings) Have fun.

                                1. I vote for a rich chocolate cake covered with chili pepper infused ganache as icing.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kayakado

                                    I'd love a recipe for that cake that's tried and true. Do you have one?


                                  2. There are various types of sweet tamales. Almond, pineapple and raisin come to mind. The family I stayed with in Mexico used to buy them and I really enjoyed.


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: puppymomma

                                      Good thinking... Pineapple, Chocolate, Strawberry, Plantain, Cajeta, Corn Kernels with Piloncillo etc. are particularly good.

                                    2. Two of our FAVORITE desserts...

                                      Habanero Cheesecake... this is quite toxic to make, but it really creates a great result!



                                      My other favorite is Rick Bayless' Mexican Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars, I could eat a whole tray of these...



                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Dommy

                                        Oh wow Dommy - here I am trying to cut down my menu. Now I want to make that cheesecake.

                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          LOL! I know what you mean... I plan to make Carnitas with Mexican Coke, Rice, Beans (Which SO loves) and Guac. I am still debating a dessert... I want to make both again, but I should also do something new! ARGH... the struggle... :D


                                      2. I made Mexican chocolate brownies with pine nuts a few years ago. They were from a Sunset magazine. They'd be great served with dulce de leche ice cream.

                                        1. Tres Leches cake. You can omit the alcohol. If you can find fresh strawberries it makes a nice combination.


                                          1. These are so good, so easy, and so addictive. I like to make up the batter and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to bake them. You can either leave the batter in the mixing bowl or go on and have them all ready to go in the ramekins. Put the ramekins in the oven about 30 minutes before you're ready to serve dessert as these are best hot/warm right out of the oven. Can serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top too. Oh, yum! So decadent.

                                            Nigella Lawson

                                            Butter for ramekins
                                            3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
                                            1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
                                            2 large eggs
                                            3/4 cup superfine sugar
                                            3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
                                            1/2 cup white chocolate chips

                                            Place baking sheet in an oven preheated to 400°. Butter four 2/3-cup ramekins and set aside.

                                            Using a microwave oven or double boiler, melt together the semisweet chocolate and the butter. Set aside to cool.

                                            In a separate bowl, combine eggs, sugar and flour. Add cooled chocolate mixture, and mix until blended. Fold in white chocolate chips.

                                            Divide mixture evenly among ramekins and place on baking sheet. Bake until tops are shiny and cracked and chocolate beneath is hot and gooey, about 20 minutes. Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve, reminding children that ramekins and chocolate are hot.

                                            1. I would have suggested Bunuelos w/ Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream...

                                              1. We're having a Tres leches Cake.

                                                1. Chocolate Banana Burrito
                                                  This is not a traditional recipe but a dessert version of a Mexican burrito. From Better Homes and Gardens

                                                  A banana bread batter is spread over flour tortillas, sprinkled with chocolate chips, rolled up and drizzled with a chocolate glaze before baking.

                                                  I N G R E D I E N T S
                                                  1/2 cup sugar
                                                  1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
                                                  3/4 to 1 cup mashed bananas
                                                  1 egg
                                                  1/2 teaspoon vanilla
                                                  3/4 cup all-purpose flour
                                                  1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                                                  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
                                                  1/4 teaspoon salt
                                                  1 TBS canola oil
                                                  6 (8-inch) flour tortillas
                                                  1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

                                                  1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
                                                  2 TBS butter
                                                  1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
                                                  Powdered sugar, if desired

                                                  I N S T R U C T I O N S
                                                  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add bananas, egg and vanilla. Continue to beat and scrape bowl often until well mixed. Reduce the speed to low and add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oil. Beat until well mixed. Place one tortilla on a large surface or plate. Spread 1/6 of the batter onto the tortilla and top with chocolate chips. Roll burrito and place in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. For the glaze, melt the chocolate chips and butter with the cocoa in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted (4 to 6 minutes). Drizzle glaze over the burritos. Bake in the oven 20-25 minutes until golden. You may sprinkle powdered sugar on top, if desired.