Cinco de May has become a day to celebrate Mexican culture – including the food and drinks of our southern neighbor. Mexican restaurants are usually packed and lots of both restaurants and bars offer margarita, mezcal and beer specials to those wanting to celebrate. Cinco de Mayo can be a little bit busy for me when it falls on a weekend, so I usually mix up some margaritas and other treats at home. If you’re planning your Cinco de Mayo menu, too, you can’t go wrong with these favorites.
Margarita Cheesecake Bars – These luscious cheesecake bars are gobbled up in minutes every time I make them.Â The filling is made with tangy cream cheese, accented with lime, orange liqueur and tequila. It sits on top of a graham cracker crust that has a salty sweet finish – just like the salt on the rim of a margarita.
Tequila Sunrise Muffins – You don’t need to wait until the sun goes down to start celebrating. These cocktail-inspired muffinsÂ are made with fresh orange zest and have a cherry twist to them. There is a bit of tequila in the mix, too, but you won’t catch a buzz even if you eat the whole batch. Serve them up with homemade Tequila Sunrise Cocktails to start the day right!
Strawberry Margarita Popsicles – If you enjoy a blended margarita when the weather is hot, you’ll love these margarita-inspired popsicles even more. The pops are bursting with fresh strawberries and have just the right touch of tequila and lime for a grown-up twist. You can make a non-alcoholic version by replacing the tequila with water or more citrus, too.
Tres Leches Bread Pudding – This three-milk bread pudding is a twist on traditional tres leches cake that is even easier to make than its counterpart.Â It’s moist and flavorful, with a wonderfully fresh dairy flavor. I like to chill it and serve it in slices, but it can be spooned right from the baking dish while it is still warm if you want to maximize the “comfort food” factor.
Pepita Mexican Chocolate Cake – This is a Rick Bayless recipe thatÂ is made with ground pepitas – also known as pumpkin seeds. I typically make the cake in the fall when my kitchen is overflowing with the seeds, but you can find them year-round at stores. The dense, nutty cake is easy to make and has just the right amount of chocolate and cinnamon in every bite.
Homemade Agua de Jamaica – Usually just called “jamaica” at Mexican restaurants, this agua fresca is a non-alcoholic drink that is made from hibiscus flowers, which are just as amazing to use in the kitchen as they are to look at in the garden. The brilliant purple drink is floral and sweet – and very simple to make. Pick up dried jamaica flowers at your local mexican market, where they tend to be very inexpensive.