Cultural Corner: Festive Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Cinco de Mayo is a favorite holiday among foodies and for good reason! The fresh and bold flavors of Mexican cuisine are worth celebrating not only on May 5th, but throughout the entire year.

Commonly mistaken as Mexico’s Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo actually marks the day Mexico defeated France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862—five years before the country won their independence. So in honor of this memorable day, we’ve rounded up fresh and flavorful recipes worthy of celebration. Taco seasoning packets not included.

No-mix Margaritas
Margaritas are a crowd favorite on Cinco de Mayo. Skip the mix and use fresh-squeezed juice and simple syrup to really wow guests. You can tailor this simple recipe to the number of guests attending your fiesta. You’ll need fresh lime juice, simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar heated together on low), ice and 100% agave Tequila. The recipe also calls for orange liqueur, but feel free to leave it out—the margaritas will still taste great. Measure out the ingredients for the number of guests attending (about 3 ounces of tequila and 2 ounces of lime juice per person) and mix until the entire mixture is chilled! Here’s a basic recipe from the Food Network to follow.

Fruity salsa
While jarred salsa is convenient, make it fresh for Cinco de Mayo. Fruit is a wonderful addition—pineapple, mango and watermelon all work wonderfully in salsa! For this recipe, pineapple is the fruit of choice. Begin by coring a fresh pineapple and finely dicing it. Next, dice about ¼ cup of red onion and ½ cup of fresh cilantro. Place all ingredients in a bowl and add the zest and juice of one lime. Sprinkle with coarse salt to taste. If you like your salsa spicy, add in a finely seeded and diced serrano or jalapeno pepper. Serve this festive salsa with tortilla chips, over grilled chicken or pork or even by itself as a healthy side! This recipe is adapted from this fresh pineapple salsa recipe.

Traditional Tres Leches Cake
Satisfy sweet cravings on Cinco de Mayo with a traditional Tres Leches or Three Milks cake. Start this authentic cake by separating the yolks and whites of five large eggs. Then combine one cup of all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt into a large mixing bowl. In a mixer, beat the five egg yolks on high speed with ¾ cup of white sugar. Stir in one teaspoon of vanilla extract and ⅓ cup of whole milk. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture and gently stir.

Next, beat the five egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Pour in ¼ cup of white sugar and beat until whites are stiff. Carefully, fold egg white mixture into the batter until just combined. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. While the cake cools completely, mix together one can of evaporated milk, one can of sweetened condensed milk and ¼ cup of heavy cream in a measuring cup (hence the name tres leches). Poke small holes all over the cake with a fork and then pour milk mixture all over it. Leave about one cup of the mixture in the measuring cup. Let the spongy cake soak up the milk for about 30 minutes before icing it with homemade, sweetened whipped cream. Top with fresh mango or other fresh fruit and serve! This recipe is adapted from and courtesy of the Pioneer Woman on Food Network.

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