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Tortilla Desserts

by Lori Grossman

More often than not, after stuffing myself with my favorite Tex-Mex meal, the last thing on my mind is dessert. Every now and then, however, I do check out the offerings and find the usual (admittedly delicious) standbys: flan, sopaipillas, and Mexican pralines. Not bad, but I'm always on the lookout for something a bit different.



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I love fresh homemade tortillas. Give me a steaming flour tortilla slathered with butter and I'm one happy camper. One day, while flipping through the dessert section of a cookbook, I found recipes for crepes and blintzes and thought, why not try using tortillas? Well, after further research, I discovered that great (?) minds do think alike. Others had asked -- and answered -- my question already. I couldn't wait to try some of their recipes. The first step: should I buy the tortillas, or attempt to make my own?

Curiosity (or fear) got the better of me. I caved in and purchased ready-made tortillas. Yes, I copped-out. But if you want to learn the ancient art of tortilla making, you need look no further than this web site. Patricia Mitchell, texascooking.com maven, has authored two detailed and easy to follow articles that will guide you tortilla purists through every step of the process. Just type "tortillas" in the web site search box and look for "How To Make Corn Tortillas" and "How To Make Flour Tortillas."

For those of you who'd like to forge on ahead, grab those store-bought tortillas and let's get started.

Sweet Tortilla Chips with Sunny Fruit Salsa

  • 4 (about 8-inch) flour tortillas
  • tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush tortillas with butter.

In a cup, combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle one side of each tortilla with cinnamon-sugar. Stack tortillas and cut into 6 wedges, making 24 wedges in total. Arrange wedges, sugar side up, in a single layer on two large cookie sheets.

Place cookie sheets on two oven racks and bake chips 10 to 12 minutes or until golden, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower racks halfway through baking. Cool chips on cookie sheets on wire racks. You can store chips in a tightly covered container for up to one week. Makes 8 servings.

Sunny Fruit Salsa
Prepare this salsa just before serving it.
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large ripe peach, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 large ripe red or purple plum, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 large ripe apricot, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dark sweet cherries (stems removed), pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup seedless green grapes, chopped
From lime, grate 1/4 teaspoon peel and squeeze 1 tablespoon juice.

In a medium bowl, stir the lime peel, lime juice, sugar, and chopped fruit until combined. Makes about 3-1/2 cups. Serve immediately.

To serve, spoon salsa into a serving bowl. Use Sweet Tortilla Chips to scoop up the salsa.

Mango Chimichangas

  • 6 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced, OR a 26-ounce jar sliced mangoes in syrup, diced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or more (to taste), if using fresh mangoes
  • 2 tablespoons Triple Sec or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/3 cup fine-ground toasted almonds
  • 4 thin flour tortillas, preferably 7 to 8 inches in diameter
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • Powdered sugar
  • Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
  • Toothpicks
In a heavy saucepan, combine fresh mangoes and sugar or jarred mangoes with syrup. Add the Triple Sec and half of the lime juice and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Simmer until the mixture is very thick, like preserves, stirring constantly toward the end. Stir in butter, almonds, and remaining lime juice to taste. Set aside to cool.

This filling can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before proceeding.

Warm the tortillas for a few seconds on a griddle or in a heavy skillet until pliable. Transfer them to a plastic bag to stay soft.

Spoon one-fourth of the fruit mixture onto the center of a tortilla. Fold the sides in and then roll up into a tight package, securing the chimichanga with toothpicks. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and fruit.

Pour at least 3 inches of oil in a heavy, deep skillet. Heat the oil to 365°F. Fry the chimichangas, one or two at a time, until light golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and sprinkle with powdered sugar shaken through a sieve.

Serve immediately, topped with spoonfuls of whipped cream if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Mascarpone-Nut Flautas with Mexican Chocolate Sauce

Flautas

  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese at room temperature (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 corn or flour tortillas
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or walnut oil
  • Toothpicks
In a bowl, mix together the cheese, cream, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Spread about 1/3 cup of the mixture in the center of each tortilla. Arrange about 1/4 cup of the Sugared Nuts (recipe follows) over the cheese. Roll up each tortilla flauta style; secure with a toothpick.

When ready to serve, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan set over medium heat (or use oil). Add 3 or 4 flautas and fry for one minute. Turn and fry on the opposite side until browned and crisp, about one more minute. Remove to a platter. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter or oil and continue with another batch to cook all of the flautas.

Spoon sauce (recipe follows) over flautas and enjoy while still warm and crunchy. Makes 6 servings.

Sugared Nuts

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups shelled walnuts, pecans, macadamias, or peanuts (about 6 ounces)
Place the butter and sugar in a frying pan set over medium heat. Heat until the butter foams and the sugar melts. Add the nuts and stir until the nuts are quite brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate or waxed paper. Let cool before serving or using in recipe.

Serve immediately, or cover, refrigerate, and use within 2 weeks. These freeze well, if you'd like to store them for a longer period of time. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Mexican Chocolate Sauce

  • 9 ounces Mexican chocolate
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Triple Sec or other orange liqueur (optional)
Place the chocolate, water, and Triple Sec (if desired) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the chocolate. Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately, or cover, refrigerate, and use within several weeks. Reheat in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Makes about 1-1/3 cups.

Now that I have you thinking outside the box, you'll probably invent some tortilla desserts of your own. Check your favorite blintz and crepe recipes. The fillings just might work with tortillas. Happy experimenting -- and eating!

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