A Crispy Cinco de Mayo Dessert
Recently, my mother notified me of this contest sponsored by Cook Taste Eat and Whole Foods. The contest is called “Food Blogger to Media Star” and as the name implies the winner will be filmed on the San Francisco Cook Taste Eat set with Chef Michael Mina.
The challenge? Feature Whole Food’s 365 Everyday Value coconut milk in either an appetizer or dessert for Cinco de Mayo in a blog post. So here is my Cinco de Mayo dessert that I submitted.
“In exchange for writing this blog and tweeting a link to this blog, I received an entry into the Food Blogger to Media Star Promotion”
From the moment I saw the contest I knew that I wanted to make a dessert. When I think of coconut milk, I think of something sweet and creamy, and therefore dessert it was. Adding the Cinco de Mayo twist was a little bit more difficult. Before, I had only seen dessert recipes using coconut milk for ice cream, pudding, curry and Thai sticky rice. However, part of the judging is based on creativity.
One of my favorite Mexican dishes is a quesadilla. I know it’s quite simple and pretty Americanized, but I just can’t get over its cheesy goodness. So I set out to construct a dessert quesadilla.
One of the restaurants around here, Empanada Mama, has a dessert empanada filled with guava and mozzarella that is to die for. On the outside it is crispy and then when you bite into it, your mouth is filled with an ooey-gooey mix of sweet guava and savory mozzarella. I know it may sound strange, but you’re going to have to just trust me on this one and know that it is awesome.
When I think of the BEST quesadilla that I have ever had, it was at my aunt’s house in Imperial Valley, CA (about 20 minutes from the Mexican border). My Auntie Betty had these uncooked flour tortillas, which she filled with cheese and beef, deep-fried and then served with freshly made guacamole. She called these “Special Quesadillas” and they are a local favorite where she lives.
With these two ideas in my head, I decided to make a Pineapple-Coconut Special Quesadilla with fruity salsa and coconut whipped cream. Instead of guava, which is hard to find in Manhattan, I decided to fill the quesadilla with caramelized pineapple because it goes well with coconut. The coconut whipped cream makes each bite “luscious” and the fruity salsa’s acid clears your palette and preps you for the next bite.
Surprisingly, this endeavor was not too difficult and it tastes “oh so scrumptious,” if I do say so myself. You’ll want to make the salsa and coconut whipped cream before making the quesadillas so that the quesadillas are hot ‘n’ crispy when you serve them.
The Method to My Madness (NOTE: All these ingredients can be found at your local Whole Foods)
For the fruity salsa you will need a 1/3 of an English cucumber, 1/2 cup of cubed strawberries, 1/2 cup of kiwi, juice of two limes and about a tablespoon of chopped cilantro. (Not pictured: you will need a pinch of salt and just a touch of cayenne (optional))
First you will need to cube the kiwi, strawberry and cucumber into 1/4 inch cubes. You can use the picture above to see how to breakdown and cube the ingredients.
Next you will need to combine all of the ingredients in bowl and then let sit for an hour in order to let all the flavors meld and mature. If you do decide to add the cayenne, use it VERY sparingly. Remember, you can always add more if you need more of a flavor boost.
Coconut Whipped Cream
For the coconut whipped cream you will need 2 cans of 365 Everyday Value coconut milk, a pinch of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. In order to make the cream we just want the solids from the coconut milk. In order to get this, you will need to put the coconut milk in the fridge a day ahead of time. When you open the can, you will find that the coconut liquids and solids have separated.
Put the coconut solids in one bowl and and set the liquid aside in another container, which we will use for the quesadilla filling.
Next, take the solids and use either a whisk, a handheld mixer or a stand mixer to whip the coconut and break it down a little bit. Once the coconut has been mixed, add the vanilla and the cinnamon. Continue to whip the coconut on high until it is nice and fluffy. Cover and set it in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
For the Quesadillas you will need 1/4 cup of the liquid from the 365 Everyday Value coconut milk, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, flour tortillas, canola oil (enough to fill a pan with 1 inch of oil), can of crushed pineapple (drain and squeeze the pineapple to remove excess moisture), 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, mozzarella cheese (I like to shred my own cheese, but you can buy shredded cheese too), and cinnamon sugar (I mix a generous teaspoon of cinnamon with a 1/4 cup of white sugar).
Once your butter is melted, add the pineapple, brown sugar and coconut. Mix the pineapple constantly for 5-7 minutes until it turns a golden brown color. Remove the pineapple from the heat.
Now it is time to construct the quesadillas! Take a tortilla and put a small handful of shredded cheese onto it. Then add 2 spoonfuls of the pine apple mixture. Fold the tortilla over making sure that the filling does not come out. If you have too much, remove some. Once you figure out how much filling you need, its time to seal this puppy up. Using your finger wet the edge of the tortilla with some water. Let it sit for about 30 seconds to let the tortilla get a little soggy. Then fold the tortilla over and press the edges together, mushing the tortilla together and forming a solid seal.
Make sure your seal has NO air pockets, or else you run the risk of letting in oil and ruining your quesadilla.
Before you fry, line a baking sheet with paper towels to catch the oil and get your cinnamon sugar ready too for coating the quesadillas.
Next heat the canola oil in a fry pan to 325 degrees F. Once the oil is hot, drop in your quesadilla. I like to use a pair of tongs and wear rubber gloves to protect my arms from any stray oil that pops up. After the quesadilla has a chance to brown on one side (about a minute and a half) flip it over and brown the other side.
Blot off any excess oil and then coat it with the cinnamon sugar. Repeat for as many quesadillas as you plan to make.
Serve the quesadillas shortly after making them so that they are nice and hot. Cut them in half, and layer the halves on top of each other at a bias. Top with the salsa then add a dollop of the coconut whipped cream to finish the decadent dessert!
- 1/4 C 365 Everyday Value Coconut Milk Liquid
- Flour Tortillas
- Can of crushed pineapple
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 3 Tbs unsalted butter
- Cinnamon sugar
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Canola Oil (for frying; You’ll need enough to fill your pan with 1 inch of oil)
- 1/3 c Strawberries
- 1/3 c Kiwi
- 1/3 of an English cucumber
- 1 Tbs of chopped cilantro
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Coconut Whipped Cream
- Coconut solids from two cans of 365 Everyday Value coconut milk.
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Caramelize the pineapple with sugar and butter
- Fill the quesadillas with caramelized pineapple and cheese
- Seal the quesadillas with water
- Heat 1 inch of oil to 325 deg. F. in a fry pan.
- Fry the quesadilla for a min. and a half on each side
- Remove and blot with paper towels.
- Immediately coat with cinnamon sugar
- Cube the strawberries, kiwis, and cucumbers
- Chop the cilantro
- Combine all the ingredients and let sit for an hour
Cut the quesadillas in half, and layer the halves on top of each other at a bias. Top with the salsa then add a dollop of the coconut whipped cream to finish the decadent dessert!