I have lived in Minneapolis for 11 years now and even though Chicago is only about 400 miles away, somehow I had never made it there until last weekend!  My husband has always said how much he thinks I would love Chicago since New York is my favorite city and he says Chicago is basically a midwestern New York.  Since we both had a few days off, we decided to make a road trip of it and took off last Saturday for a few days of exploring a new city.

My husband knows me well and I completely fell in love with this city.  The people were so friendly, the city so buzzing and beautiful, the shopping was colorful and exciting and the food was some of the best I have ever had.

Did I mention that the food was exquisite?  I feel like we really hit the city hard and settled some debates in our minds:  best pizza, best cupcakes, a true love for mussels.  Each time I would tell my husband that we had to go get a cupcake from Magnolia, Sprinkles or Crumbs for research and because I had a duty to fulfill.  Thanks for being my excuse sweet teeth!  I did want to experience all that the city had to offer so that I could come home and share my food explorations with you!

Let’s start with pizza.  Obviously Chicago is known for deep-dish pies oozing with sauce and cheese.  If you ask most Chicago natives, they will tell you about a rivalry between two pizza joints:  Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s.  My husband and I felt that if we tried one, we had to be fair and try the other one to compare. We agreed to order the same simple pepperoni pizza at both locations for a fair comparison.

First up was Lou Malnati’s.  Lou’s is known for their thick, chunky tomato sauce and “World Famous Buttercrust”.

I knew we were in for a treat as soon as this pizza landed on our table.

The sauce on this pizza had big chunks of tomatoes and was a perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness.  The cheese was abundant, but not overwhelming.  And the real magic in this slice was the crust.  I almost want to describe it like a cookie.  It was crispy on the outside, but perfectly chewy and not soggy on the inside.  The thickness of the deep dish was ideal as it was just enough of that perfect crust without drying out the entire pizza.  We were pretty sure that it couldn’t get much better than this.

On our last day, we made it a point to eat lunch at Giordano’s before we left town.  Giordano’s is know for it’s stuffed deep-dish pizzas.  Yes, that’s right, a bottom crust topped with cheese and any other toppings then topped with another crust that is then smothered with sauce.

As you might be able to appreciate from the photos, this pizza was basically cheese and crust with a side of sauce.  I like my pizza saucy, so this didn’t do it for me nearly as much as it’s rival.  The cheese was also a bit chewier and reminded me more of a mozzarella cheese stick than perfect ooey gooey pizza cheese.

I thought I would love the crust on top of more crust, but this crust just wasn’t that buttery goodness we had come to expect from deep dish.  It was more dry and we found ourselves wanting extra sauce to dunk the crust in.  So, if you still need me to spell it out for you, our opinion on this Chitown rivalry is that hands down, Lou Malnati’s has the BEST Chicago deep-dish pizza!

Stay tuned for my new ultimate favorite cupcake bakery!

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I did not feel good about saying “adios” to Mexico Week without a grand finale.  Remember the Tres Leches cake that I mentioned earlier this week?  If you are not familiar with Tres Leches, please allow me to enlighten you!  “Tres leches” in Spanish means “three milks”.  The way that these three milks apply to our cake is that you start with a somewhat basic white cake and then soak it in a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream.  You can imagine what happens next.  The cake becomes oh so marvelously moist from the sopping up the milks that it literally feels like it is melting in your mouth when you take a bite.

In Mexico, Tres Leches cake is commonly served at weddings, birthdays and other events.  My best friend Naomi had this cake for her wedding and ever since then I have been meaning to attempt to make it myself.  Naomi will have been married for 5 years in August, so what better time than now to follow through with my commitment!

Tres Leches Cake

by Mercedes Porter

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla

For the milk mixture

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

For the milk mixture

Pour condensed milk into large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on low, stirring and replacing plastic wrap every 3-5 minutes, until slightly darkened and thickened, 9-15 minutes.

Remove from microwave and slowly whisk in evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla.

Let cool to room temperature.

For the cake

Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat to 325. Grease and flour a 9X13 baking pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in bowl. Heat butter and milk in small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted; set aside off heat.

With hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat eggs in large for about 30 seconds, then slowly add sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is thick and glossy, 5-7 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in milk-butter mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, scraping down bowl as necessary, then mix on medium speed until fully incorporated, about 3o seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.

Using a skewer, poke holes at 1/2 inch intervals in top of cake. Slowly pour milk mixture over cake until completely absorbed. Let sit at room temperature 15 minutes, then refrigerate uncovered for 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

For the topping

Remove cake from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. With hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat heavy cream, corn syrup, and vanilla to soft peaks, 1-2 minutes. Spread over cake and slice into 3-inch squares. Serve.

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(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

for the milk mixture:  sweetened condensed milk

 sweetened condensed milk after it is darkened and thickened

 finished milk mixture

 for the cake:  dry ingredients

butter/milk mixture

 eggs, thick and glossy

 poke holes 1/2-inch apart into cake

 pour milk mixture over cake

 spread on topping after refrigerating

 so moist and decadent, disfruta!

 

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You know how you return from vacation and although it is good to be home, you can’t help but have a bit of the vacation blues?  If you are like me, it can put you into a little slump wishing you could still be lying on the beach in Mexico, strolling down the Champs Elysees or skiing down the Rockies for example.  That’s why I have decided to declare it “Mexico Week” at Satisfy My Sweet Tooth.  You don’t mind if I extend my vacation through food with you, do you?  We started with enchiladas, so I bet you know what that means!  Time for the sweet stuff!

When I was in Mexico after dinner one night I asked for a hot chocolate.  What I received was not your ordinary hot chocolate.  It was Mexican Mayan chocolate melted by pouring steamed milk over it.  It was creamy, slightly spicy from the cinnamon and utterly comforting.  When I asked our server Emilio about it, he said that this was the traditional way to make hot chocolate in Mexico and that there is one main brand of chocolate that has been produced for over 70 years called Abuelita.   The brand was recently purchased by Nestle but you can still only purchase it in Mexico.  On the menu they called it “Grandma hot chocolate” and I’m guessing that has something to do with the adorable woman on the package enticing you to have a cup.

I have always enjoyed the combination of chocolate and cinnamon.
It just seems to warm me from the inside.  I remembered that I had this recipe for Mexican chocolate shortbread that incorporates this flavor combination and so as a tribute to Grandma Abuelita and Emilio, here it is:  warm, chocolatey, spicy shortbread.  After making these, I can truly say, they may change your life.  No, I am not that delusional to think that a baked good could actually change your life but it’s about the little things.  And if tasting this delectable treat can make you smile and feel comforted, well then that is  life-changing enough for me 🙂.

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Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.

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Hola los dientes dulces!

I just returned from a lovely vacation in Mexico

and I couldn’t resist sharing some of the wonderful dishes that we had on our trip with you.

One of my favorite Mexican desserts is Tres Leches cake and when we requested this traditional Mexican cake for our last dinner, the chef at our resort, The Tides which is now a Viceroy resort, was kind enough to Satisfy My Sweet Tooth and make the cake for us.

All of the food we had was amazing.  I especially enjoyed the different ceviches we sampled throughout the trip.  Ceviche is so simply prepared but so undeniably fresh and refreshing.

This is a sample of 4 different ceviches that we ate during a Tequila tasting at our resort.

And how could I leave Mexico without having some fish tacos and short rib enchiladas?

Now it would not be very nice of me to leave you drooling over all of the wonderful dishes I got to enjoy on my trip and offer you nothing for yourself would it?  So, here is my recipe for chicken enchiladas!  I know it may be tempting just to buy the enchilada sauce pre-made from the store, but this sauce is so simple that it will be finished by the time you have made the filling and wrapped it up in the tortillas and the fresh flavor is so worth it.

Chicken Enchiladas

Sauce:    (recipe adapted from The America’s Text Kitchen Family Cookbook)

  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 (16 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Heat oil in medium/large sautée pan over medium heat until simmering
  2. Add onion and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes
  3. Stir in chili powder, garlic and cumin (this mixture will look dry) and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce and water and stir
  5. Turn heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes

Onions tender and translucent

Mixture will appear dry after adding spices

Filling: 

  • 1 rotisserie chicken (meat shredded, I used only white meat)
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese
  • 2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chiles
  1. Mix all ingredients with spatula until well blended

Assembling the enchiladas:

  • Filling
  • Sauce
  • Corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded colby-jack cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Spray 9X13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray
  3. Wrap 4 tortillas in moistened paper towel and microwave for 10 seconds (this makes the tortillas more pliable so they do not tear while you are filling them)
  4. Place about 2 Tbsp of filling into each tortilla, roll it up and place it seam side down into the baking dish
  5. Continue steps 2-4 until you have filled your dish with one layer of rolled and filled tortillas
  6. Lightly spray the top of this layer with nonstick spray
  7. Pour half of enchilada sauce over this bottom layer
  8. Repeat steps 2-4 to make second layer of enchiladas
  9. Pour remaining sauce over top of second layer and sprinkle with cheese
  10. Spray a piece of foil with nonstick spray and cover baking dish
  11. Bake 25 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes
  12. Serve with sour cream, salsa, cilantro, lettuce, jalepenos, and any of your favorite Mexican toppings!

 

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When did cupcakes become so popular?  You know what I mean.  I’m referring to the fact that until the past several years, cupcakes were for children’s birthday parties and maybe baby showers.  Today, there are bakeries that ONLY sell cupcakes, several TV shows dedicated to cupcakes, and many restaurants have the small sweet treats on their dessert menus regularly.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am thrilled.  I love cupcakes and enjoy seeing creativity expressed through exotic flavor combinations.

Personally, I give some credit for the cupcake craze to Sex and the City.  In one episode, Miranda and Carrie sit on a New York City street curb eating cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery.  Watching the glamorous characters sink their teeth into the lovely thick pink frosting while discussing their love lives made many fans want to sample the cupcakes themselves.  The official Sex and the City Tour in NYC highlights Magnolia Bakery as one of the stops.  After graduating from college, my dad took me on my first trip to New York to celebrate.  I am a huge Sex and the City fan and was ecstatic when he surprised me with tickets for the tour to see many of the locations made famous by the show.  Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery were included on the tour and it was love at first bite of buttercream!

Today, Magnolia Bakery has several locations.  I have been to New York many times since that first visit and it is my favorite city to travel to.  On many of my visits, Magnolia remains one of my favorite stops.  Although the Bakery makes many types of desserts, such as whoopee pies, cookies and puddings, their chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting are arguably their most coveted sweet treat.  In my opinion, the cupcakes have the perfect cake:frosting ratio which is 2:1.  The cake is light and moist and that combination with the creamy, velvety buttercream is pure bliss.  So light and lovely in fact that one cupcake is never enough. Not only are the sweets scrumptious, but the bakeries themselves are delightful with pastel decor and a retro, yet elegant feel.  They are what a sweet tooth’s dreams are made of.

My husband knows me so well.  We got engaged in New York and then he took me for a cupcake breakfast at Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street the morning after his proposal.  He always knows how to Satisfy My Sweet Tooth.

My family travelled to NYC this past Easter and one of the newer New York locations of Magnolia Bakery at Rockefeller Center was the perfect place for a midnight snack.

Magnolia cupcakes are iconic New York to me.  Next time you are in the City That Never Sleeps, stop for a small treat.  You will not be disappointed.

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