Email Us!

Have a question?  Have an idea to share?  We want to know!

We'll get back to you at the email address you provide.

Thank you!

 

Name *
Name
           

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Week 7 - Mucho Mango Tart and the Nectar of Independence

The real story of Mexican independence, and a dessert that celebrates the resilience of the Mexican spirit.

Mucho Mango Tart made in the Adventure Kitchen, June 2015 

Mucho Mango Tart made in the Adventure Kitchen, June 2015 

Cajeta de Leche on the Adventure Kitchen stove, June 2015

Cajeta de Leche on the Adventure Kitchen stove, June 2015

Think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day?  Think Again!

Carnaval de Ideologias (1937-39), a mural by Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco in the Guadalajara Government Palace.  Notice Hidalgo is wearing a priest's collar and holding the torch of independence.  Like all wars, Mexico's war for independence was bloody and violent, as we can see in this artist's depiction.

Carnaval de Ideologias (1937-39), a mural by Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco in the Guadalajara Government Palace.  Notice Hidalgo is wearing a priest's collar and holding the torch of independence.  Like all wars, Mexico's war for independence was bloody and violent, as we can see in this artist's depiction.

Mexico actually celebrates its independence on September 16.  On this date in 1810, a priest named Miguel Hidalgo, now considered to be the father of the Mexican nation, gave a rousing speech in which he championed the underclasses and the native Mexicans and called for a revolt against Spanish and aristocratic domination of the people of Mexico. This famous speech is called the Grito de Dolores, the "cry of Dolores," named for the town of Dolores in which Hidalgo gave his impassioned speech.

Sadly, barely six months later, Hidalgo was arrested and executed.  It would be another ten years before Mexico would finally achieve independence from Spain in September of 1821.

Cajeta de Leche: the Sweet Taste of Independence

Cajeta de Leche (pronounced "Cah-hay-tah day Lay-chay") is a delicious, authentically Mexican caramel sauce that originates from the town of Celaya in the state of Guanajuato, smack dab in the center of Mexico - the very same part of Mexico where Hidalgo was from and where he delivered his famous Grito de Dolores speech. 

Cajeta cooking in a copper kettle, with traditional wooden boxes.  The word cajeta derives from the Spanish word caja, which means box.

Cajeta cooking in a copper kettle, with traditional wooden boxes.  The word cajeta derives from the Spanish word caja, which means box.

map of guanajuato, mexico

Legend has it that Cajeta was born during the struggle for Mexican independence, and was a favorite ration among the soldiers.  Unlike European caramel which is simply melted and browned sugar, Cajeta is sweetened goat's milk, simmered and reduced to decadent brown perfection.  In Celaya, heavy copper kettles are still used to make Cajeta, just as they were during the war for independence.

When you make Cajeta, remember the Father of Mexico, the Grito de Dolores, and the real story of Mexican independence.

So... what happened on Cinco De Mayo?

Portrait of Napoleon III in 1868, painted by Adolphe Yvon.

Portrait of Napoleon III in 1868, painted by Adolphe Yvon.

Sadly, throughout history, after revolution usually comes ...chaos. After the brave struggle to rise up and overthrow those in power, there is often a time of confusion where no one is quite sure who is in charge. Time and again, into this vacuum step all the wrong people. And all too often, the brave revolutionaries who sacrificed so much for their independence end up right back in the same sad situation they started from.

After the revolution in Mexico, there were about 50 years of chaos. During this time, the French Emperor Napoleon III (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte) had an idea.  Now that Spain didn't control Mexico anymore, maybe France could!  

In 1862, French troops landed in Veracruz and marched toward Puebla to begin their conquest of Mexico.  The Mexicans defeated them at Puebla on May 5, "Cinco de Mayo" in Spanish.

Maximilian and Carlota: The French Try Again

Carlotta and Maximilian on their wedding day

Carlotta and Maximilian on their wedding day

A couple years later, Napoleon III decided to try again with a new plan. The Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I offered up his younger brother Maximilian to become the new Emperor of Mexico.  

So Maximilian and his lovely wife Carlota, accompanied by the French army, came over from Europe to rule Mexico for the French. They arrived on May 28, 1864, and Maximilian declared himself Emperor of Mexico

This didn't work out very well for anyone.  As you might imagine, most Mexicans did not like this plan, and from the moment Maximilian arrived, they plotted to get rid of him.

After a short time, Napoleon III changed his mind and pulled his army out, leaving Maximilian high and dry, with little protection from unhappy Mexicans.

Execution of Emperor Maximilian, by Edouard Manet (1868-1869).   Shows Emperor Maximilian being executed by firing squad alongside his Mexican supporters.

Execution of Emperor Maximilian, by Edouard Manet (1868-1869).   Shows Emperor Maximilian being executed by firing squad alongside his Mexican supporters.

Empress Carlota went back to Europe to try to find another European power to help her husband, but by now no one was interested. Deeply upset and worried, she had an emotional breakdown - some say she went insane - and she never went back to Mexico.

The Mexicans finally succeeded in overthrowing Maximilian, and he was executed on June 19, 1867, a mere three years after his arrival.  

The one good thing that Mexico got out of this whole tragic affair was a little taste of French food.  Like the rest of the world, they liked it, and bits of French influence can still be seen in Mexican cooking today. 

French PUFF PASTRY

We recommend DuFour Puff Pastry 

We recommend DuFour Puff Pastry 

Good puff pastry has only a few ingredients:  butter, flour, water and salt.

When made properly, it bakes into a delicious, golden, puffy pastry with between 73-81 layers of buttery, flaky goodness in every bite (yes, really!).  It takes quite a bit of effort to make it yourself, but the good news is that you can buy excellent ready-made French puff pastry in the freezer section of the grocery store!  Look for one with just the simple the ingredients listed above, such as DuFour.

Mexican Mangoes

Although Mangoes originated from Asia, they are a popular part of Mexican cuisine.  For our Mucho Mango Tart, we used Ataulfo mangoes, a variety that originates in Chiapas, Mexico (though the recipe will work with whatever type of mangoes you find).

Get the complete recipe here...

Carl-Eric teachng his friends how to cut a mango.  Great job!

Carl-Eric teachng his friends how to cut a mango.  Great job!

Ataulfo mangoes

Ataulfo mangoes

A little help from Ms. Lynley

A little help from Ms. Lynley

Our Final Class - Party Time!

In our final class of this session, we learned how to cut up mangoes and then got to sample them.  Then we had a mini-Mexican feast, with two types of tacos (Carnitas and chicken), and Mucho Mango Tart with Cajeta de Leche.

Taco buffet

Taco buffet

Enjoying tacos

Enjoying tacos

As always in the final class of the session, the kids assembled their keepsake recipe books to take home.

recipe books
Last-day fun
Making recipe books

Recipes

Mucho Mango Tart

In our Mucho Mango Tart, Mexican mangoes are tossed with cinnamon and vanilla, and piled atop puff pastry. Served with Cajeta de Leche, it's an edible tribute to Mexican resilience, and a great way to remember the real story of Mexican independence.

Cajeta de Leche

The nectar of Mexican independence, this authentic caramel sauce can be drizzled over our Mucho Mango Tart or over ice cream or berries, or spread on toast or cookies for a real treat.  Just try not to eat it all with a spoon.