Inexpensive Tools For A Perfect Celebration— Notice My Lulav Cookie Cutter-Perfect For Cactus Cookies

Did you know that Cinco De Mayobis celebrated more in America than in Mexico? Did you know that this Saturday is May 5th?

This week, like many others, I will be preparing for next Saturday’s celebration of Cinco de Mayo and Shabbos in a unique way. For me personally, it is my favorite party to participate in, filled with delicious food and drink, fun decor and always a memorable event.

Cinco de Mayo is NOT a religious holiday, it is a celebration of heritage and pride, which commemorates the Mexican’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, and all of us can appreciate a battle won for freedom and democracy.

For Jews, we can use it as quality family time to learn about Mexican-Jewish roots. Both Askenazi and Sephardic Jews have rich histories in Mexico, dating back hundreds of years. Mauricio Umansky, reality television star, openly discusses his background on The Housewives of Beverly Hills. Louis C.K., the Emmy and Grammy winner, and artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, although not practicing Jews, have ancestors of the Jewish faith. In 1935, Rivera wrote, “My Jewishness is the dominant element of my life.” Conversos were Jews that were forced to convert to Catholicism, and some even dared to practice their Judaism privately and with great risk. Research with your families the Israeli-Mexican relationship or compare the peso to shekels or our dollar.

Now for the food, decor and entertainment. You can make your party really simple by bringing in some prepared tacos and rice dishes from supermarkets and restaurants, or you can create everything from appetizers to desserts to fit every menu and diet. What is great about Cinco de Mayo is that celebrations occur before and after the exact date.

Most people associate the words refried and fattening to Mexican dishes. However, Mexican food can be healthy. Think fruits and veggies, like jicama, tomatillos, which are not tomatoes, chayotes and guanabanas and of course, limes, peppers, chiles and avocados.

S’mores Tart Mexican Style

My own creation, a S’mores Tart Mexican Style, has a Mexican nut crust. This dessert is for an advanced baker.

12-14 Inch Tart or Pie
1 cup of butter, room temperature or use Earth Balance to make it pareve
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract if you want to add tequila, make 1tsp of each
2 1/2 cups purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs, vanilla wafers or your choice mixed with 1/2 cup crushed nuts if want- be creative here
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups chocolate chips melted
2 cups marshmallow fluff (not melted marshmallows)
1 bag mini marshmallows
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.
Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour melted chocolate over dough. Place in the fridge until the melted chocolate becomes hard enough to be able spread the fluff on top of it in an even layer without them mixing together. Sprinkle with a few handfuls of mini marshmallows. Crumble the remaining dough in pebble-size pieces on top of the marshmallows.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the dough is lightly browned, and the marshmallows are golden and puffed. Cool completely before removing serving.

Optional Mexican Toppings
Crushed Plantain Chips, Mexican Chocolate Chips or Shavings, Nuts

Mexican Lime Tequila Tart

Same size as above tart – believe me you won’t have leftovers.

INGREDIENTS
1box graham crackers
1/4 cup pine, or any other nuts, like papitas
2 tablespoons sugar, plus one tablespoon for topping
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Blanca tequila
2 large egg whites
Topping Options: whipped cream, fresh lime slices, lime zest nut options, even make a meringue topping
Steps:
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Make crust:
Into a food processor crumble graham crackers and finely grind enough to measure 11/2 cups. Transfer to a bowl. In food processor pulse pine nuts with sugar until finely ground. Melt butter and cool to lukewarm. Stir nut mixture and butter into crumbs and press evenly onto bottom and up side of tart pan.
Make filling:
Squeeze enough juice from limes to measure 1/2 cup. In a large bowl whisk together lime juice, condensed milk, yolks, and tequila until just combined well. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with sugar until they hold soft peaks. Stir one fourth meringue into milk mixture to lighten and fold in remaining meringue gently but thoroughly.
Spoon filling into crust. Bake tart until edges of filling are puffed but not browned and center seems almost set when gently shaken, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool tart completely on a rack. Chill tart, loosely covered, until cold, about 2 hours, serve. Don’t make this more than a day ahead.

Decor can be simple and inexpensive by purchasing Mexican sombreros, tiles, pottery and cloths. Use bright colors. And of course, have plenty of tequila and sangria on hand for a most memorable gathering.

Good Shabbos and Ole!!!