It’s time to put those bread projects aside and start planning our feast for Cinco de Mayo. We may not be cooking for a crowd this year, but after seven weeks of Stay at Home orders, we’re looking for new culinary projects beyond watching sourdough rise. We’re taking inspiration from this upcoming holiday and trying out new Mexican recipes we’ve yet to conquer. From vegan champurrado to gorditos, master one of these X recipes and enjoy a homemade Cinco de Mayo.
1. Champurrado by Mas Vegan
Like hot chocolate, but better, champurrado is a comforting sweet beverage made deliciously thick and luscious thanks to the addition of masa. Miraculously, the drink isn’t grainy—it’s smooth and decadent with just the right touch of chocolate. If you can, it’s worth a trip to a Latinx grocer or purchasing the key ingredients on Amazon. The Mexican chocolate disc, piloncillo, and cinnamon stick really make this drink.
2. Conchas by Thyme & Love
A concha is a round Mexican sweet bread with a thick coating of sugar on top. They’re best eaten straight from the oven—just cooled enough to nearly burn your fingers as you tear into the melt-in-your-mouth, bready, sugar-coated goodness. If you plan to munch on a room-temperature concha, dunk it into a steaming mug of thick champurrado.
3. Bolios by Dora’s Table
Think of a bolio as your everyday, versatile white bread. They’re traditionally torpedo-shaped and can be used in a variety of delicious applications—from stuffing them with vegan cheese and sliced jalapenos to slicing in half for tortas (the equivalent of a Mexican sandwich). Fluffy on the inside with a crackly exterior, this basic bread is simple to make and requires minimal ingredients. Beginner bread bakers, this one’s for you!
4. Tres Leches Cake by Carrots and Flowers
We still haven’t figured out how this cake can be soaked in three different kinds of (vegan) milk and not crumple into a soggy mess, but somehow, it just works. This vanilla sheet cake is moist, tender, light, fluffy, and creamy all in one. It gets better as it sits, so go ahead and make a whole cake for yourself. It’ll last in the fridge for a few days.
5. Poblano Mole by Robin Robertson
Once you master mole, you have a flavor bomb of a sauce that you can slather on almost anything—jackfruit, chips, roasted peppers, beans, burritos—even basic steamed veggies reach new heights when smothered in this complex sauce. Pro tip: the longer the mixture simmers, the more pronounced the flavors. This isn’t a quick fix, but the delayed gratification is well worth it.
6. Pumpkin Tamales with Shishito Peppers by Rachel Carr
If you think you don’t like tamales, you simply have not experienced a good one. This recipe ensures a tender, flavorful masa exterior and a sauce you could eat by the spoonful. Tamale-making doesn’t take much skill, just time and some patience. Put some festive music on, crank out a few dozen, then store leftovers in the freezer. You can have tamales for weeks!
7. Homemade Sopes and Gorditas by Mexican Made Meatless
Make two different staples with the same masa-based dough. Sopes are small, thick cakes of masa with elevated edges to contain a filling; they are grilled and sometimes fried. Gorditas are made from the same dough and also grilled (traditionally on a comal) but instead of edges, they are flat and sliced in half, similar to a pita pocket. Both are excellent vessels for something as simple as refried beans or store-bought vegan al pastor.
8. Refried Beans from Scratch by Sweet Simple Vegan
Do homemade refried beans require more effort than opening a can of storebought beans? It depends—we’ve struggled with some difficult can-openers. The scratch-made version of this Mexican staple is so simple to make and exponentially better than the canned variety. Amplify any dish with a scoop of these flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth pintos or go back to basics and savor the simplicity of a basic bean burrito—no cheese required.
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and runner living in Orange County, CA.
Photo credit: Plant Craft