A ladies luncheon is always in perfect taste.  And no one does it better than my effervescent friend Lindsay Clark Jurow.  Lindsay and I are recent bosom buddies, so I was thrilled at the chance to be at to her latest gathering.  The menu was perfection, and while everyone devoured her first course we took turns explaining how we knew our hostess. 

By the time we were finished story-telling, I learned the following about Lindsay: she is a doctor, recently married a handsome entrepreneur, lives in a stunning home with a roofdeck that boasts views of the Golden Gate Bridge, whips up four-course meals and dabbles in interior design for fun, and has a five-month-old baby…  It took everything in my power not to stab her with my butter knife.  Nothing if not competitive, I’d invited everyone to a dinner party chez-moi before poor Lindsay had a chance to clear the salad plates.

Given the time of year, I planned a Cinco de Mayo-themed menu – savory popovers with habanero honey butter, romaine salad with grapefruit, shaved fennel, toasted hazelnuts, and parmesan, ahi tuna tostadas with chipotle aioli and crispy leeks, basil lime sorbet palate cleanser, chili blanco, and dulce de leche filled cinnamon cupcakes. 

The morning of the dinner party, I called my mother to tell her about my menu.  Ever the pragmatist, mom said that as wonderful as it sounded - what I had already made considering it was almost noon?  I assured her that it was all under control.  The base for the sorbet was churning in the Kitchen-Aid ice cream maker and everything else was relatively straight-forward. 


Panic set in once I hung up and found that the sorbet was still completely liquid after twenty minutes in the mixer.  Luckily, it dawned on me that I could turn the sorbet into a granita by freezing the mixture in shallow pans and scrapping it with a fork every hour.  Phew!

Reinvigorated by my quick-save, I started in on the dessert.  After mastering blueberry cupcakes, I opted to try a stuffed version: brown sugar cinnamon cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and dulce de leche filling.  To lend a little extra Cinco de Mayo flare, I topped the cakes with miniature churros made from deep fried tortilla strips covered in cinnamon sugar.

The cupcakes were delectable, and much easier to make than you would imagine.  In fact, despite my moment of total panic over the sorbet, the entire meal turned out perfectly.  I’d venture to say that it was my best dinner party yet! 

As everyone licked the last of the frosting from their finger tips, Lindsay offered to host the next dinner party and began rattling off an elaborate menu.  Unfazed, I leaned back on the hind-legs of my chair and calmly replied, “game on, sweetheart.”  xx tt 

Recipe – adapted from The Curvy Carrot, makes 12 cupcakes

Cake Ingredients

·  3 cups all-purpose flour

·  2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

·  ½ teaspoon kosher salt

·  1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

·  11 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)

·  1 ½ cup light brown sugar· 

·  2 large eggs

·  2 teaspoons vanilla extract

·  1 teaspoon almond extract

·  1 ¼ cup whole milk

·  1 jar dulce de leche (I got mine at Cost Plus, but Safeway carries canned versions)

Cake Instructions 

·  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin-tin

·  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt – set aside

·  In Kitchen-Aid mixer or large bowl with electric beaters, beat butter, sugar, and cinnamon until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes)

· Add eggs one at a time, and mix well

· Add vanilla and almond extracts 

·  Reduce mixer to low-speed, and add 1/3 flour mixture

·  Add half of the milk

·  Once combined completely, add 1/3 flour mixture

·  Add the rest of the milk

·  Once combined, add remaining flour mixture

·  Divide mixture evenly in muffin-tin

·  Bake for 20-minutes until a tooth-pick or fork inserted into the center of one cake comes out clean

·  Let the cupcakes cool to room temperature before filling and frosting

Frosting Ingredients

·  8-ounces cream cheese, room temperature

· ½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature

·  2 teaspoons vanilla extract

·  1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

·  2 cups powdered sugar

Frosting Instructions 

·  In Kitchen-Aid mixer, or large mixing bowl with electric beaters, mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes)

·  Add vanilla and cinnamon until combined

·  Reduce to low-speed, and slowly add powdered sugar until combined 

Churro Ingredients

·  1 8-inch flour tortilla

·  2 cups canola oil

·  1 cup cinnamon sugar (2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup ground cinnamon)

·  Pam cooking spray

Churro Instructions 

·  In a deep pan, heat canola oil on high until very hot (approximately five minutes)

·  Cut tortilla into half-inch by two-inch strips

·  Carefully place strips into hot oil

·  After about thirty seconds, remove with tongs and set on paper towel

·  Sprinkle both sides generously with cinnamon sugar

·  If the cinnamon sugar doesn’t stick, spray the fried strip with Pam cooking spray and then reapply

Assembly Instructions

·  Using a small melon baller, a knife, or the bottom of a frosting tip – gently cut a small circle in the center of each cupcake, and discard extra cake

·  Fill pastry bag with dulce de leche, and squirt into each hole

·  Rinse pastry bag (or use a second bag) and spoon in frosting

· Twist top of frosting bag, so that it does not squirt out of the wrong end

·  Frost each cupcake by putting one squirt into the center of the cupcake, and then swirl from the outside rim of the cupcake into the center very slowly

·  See video for instruction

·  Place one mini-churro in the center of each cupcake


t+tMAKE: Rather than store-bought dulce de leche, try making your own with David Lebovitz’s mouthwatering recipe.  It’s so good, you’ll want to eat it straight from the jar!

t+tSTYLE: Channel your inner seniorita with this flirty Catherine Malandrino frock in my favorite color.

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