My first real job came at age 12. That summer, with my brother, early in the morning we'd catch a farm bus to work the strawberry harvest. We were legally permitted to work at such a young age owed to agricultural labor laws originally designed to allow folks, like my grandfather, have his children work during harvest. The work was hot, and paid out in dimes for pounds of picked fruit. It felt a bit like summer camp for us kids, laughing and gossiping as we picked down the rows. Adjacent to the summer break kids, migrant families picked fast. They worked hard to best ensure those dimes added up to the best possible hourly wage. Then, and now, many of the migrant families that bring in the harvest are Mixtec. This recipe is a tribute to those first early colleagues of mine that showed me what it is to strive.
¼ pound (1 stick) Butter, at room temperature
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Mexican Vanilla
1 ¼ teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Kosher Sea Salt
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
½ cup Cocoa
1 teaspoon Ancho Chile Powder
1 cup Buttermilk
3 Egg Whites
¾ cup Sugar
½ pound Butter (2 sticks - 16 Tablespoons), at room temperature
¾ teaspoon Mexican Vanilla
¼ teaspoon Kosher Sea Salt
3 Tablespoons Stawberry Habanero Jelly
Preheat the oven to 350.
FOR THE CAKES:
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla, beat until light and creamy.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, chile powder, flour and cocoa.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, until you have a smooth batter.
Using a piping bag, or with a spoon, portion out 44-46 1.5" rounds of batter allowing ample space for some spread of the batter onto wax paper lined baking sheets.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, cakes will be done when a toothpick comes out clean if inserted into a cake.
Remove from oven and cool completely before filling.
FOR THE CREAM FILLING:
Fill a medium saucepan with 2-3 inches of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer.
Combine egg whites (reserving yolks for another use) and sugar in the metal mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or if not using a stand mixer another metal bowl) and place over the simmering water.W
Whisk while heating until the sugar is dissolved and mixture temperature reaches 180 degrees.
Using a whisk attachment on a stand mixer (or hand mixer) whisk egg whites and sugar on high until they double in volume. Mixture will be thick and shiny.
Reduce speed to medium and begin to add butter about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until all the butter is incorporated. It is important that butter be room temperature and that you allow it to fulling incorporated between each mix in.
Stir the jelly in a bowl to loosen and after all the butter has been incorporated, add jelly into the cream a tablespoon at a time until fulling incorporated.
If mixture looks broken, increase speed to high and whisk until smooth.
Fill piping bag with cream filling (or using a spoon), top half of the baked cakes with filling.
Pair up halves and store cookies at room temperature for 3 days or a week in the refrigerator. Cakes can also be store frozen. As per the high butter content, if stored in the refrigerator, the cream will become stiff, so to enjoy soft, you will need to let the pies come to room temperature once removed from the refrigerator.