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Southern Nights

Home is vacation, and vacation is home to a design couple and their guests for a sophisticated Mexican meal at a San Miguel retreat

Written and produced by Krissa Rossbund
  • Victoria Pearson

    An escape from January’s chill most commonly lands travelers in a room at a tropical resort or a cabin on a cruise ship. But for San Francisco interior designers Jeffry Weisman and Andrew Fisher (and 25,000 other ex-pats from the United States), San Miguel de Allende, nestled in the mountains about three hours north of Mexico City, is home. And whenever Jeffry and Andrew are home, they entertain.

  • Victoria Pearson

    “I think that part of our business is knowing how to make luxurious guest surroundings,” Jeffry says. “Whether someone is staying with us or is here only for a dinner, we want it to feel special and like a vacation.”

    Designers Andrew Fisher, left, and Jeffry Weisman, and their dog, Charrito, welcome many visitors to their San Miguel de Allende home.

  • Victoria Pearson

    A courtyard lush with ancient trees and dappled light lured the couple to this property during their real estate search. It’s now the space they use to serve an elaborate menu of cultural fare—think the tastiest versions of margaritas, empanadas, ceviche, tacos, braised pork, dressed-up rice and beans, homemade tortillas, and tres leches cake—during a dinner party for friends.

    “The climate and the region’s focus on growing results in a rich bounty of organic produce,” Andrew says. “We take advantage of that supply to create delicious food and an elegant but casual environment.”

    Elegance comes from a grand courtyard table dressed to indicate style is important but intense formality is not. A blanket of leaves from the surrounding plantings serves as an organic runner down the table’s center, topped with candles in glass and rock crystal votives. Mexican pottery plates are offset by copper chargers that simultaneously read as fine and rustic.

  • Victoria Pearson

    “We have a lot of return visitors,” Jeffry says. “The spaces around the house offer options for many types of entertaining. Even while on vacation, it’s nice to feel at home. What could be nicer?”

  • Victoria Pearson

    Interior designer Jeffry Weisman and fine artist Andrew Fisher take a casual approach when they entertain at their home in the historic Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. Dinner includes cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the patio and a relaxed, help-yourself buffet of locally inspired dishes. Recipes are by chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary, Food of Grace.

    Recipes

    Tamarind-Laced Margarita

    Smoky Paloma Cocktail

    Chicken Tacos with Mole Sauce and Goat Cheese

    Homemade Flour Tortillas

    Mushroom, Squash, and Poblano Chile Empanadas with Cotija Cheese

    Braised Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes and Pasilla-Honey Sauce

    Turmeric Rice, Seared Corn, and Toasted Pine Nuts

    Mashed Black Beans with Chipotle Crema

    Halibut Ceviche with Avocado

    Vanilla-Laced Tres Leches Cake

    Shopping List

    We’ve organized a shopping list to make shopping for this party menu easier for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

    Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

    Note: Unless specified, when we call for “butter” we mean the unsalted variety. When we call for “olive oil” we are suggesting good-quality extra virgin. When we call for “eggs” we are suggesting large eggs. Unless specified, when we call for “milk” we mean whole-fat milk.

    Amounts for cocktail recipes have been increased to make eight cocktails.

    •Kosher salt (3 teaspoons plus enough to rim eight glasses)

    •Iodized salt (need 1 teaspoon)

    •Granulated sugar (need 2 cups)

    •Powdered sugar (need 1 tablespoon)

    •Honey (need 1/2 cup)

    •Vanilla extract (need 1-1/2 teaspoons)

    •All-purpose flour (need 9 cups)

    •Baking powder (need 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) (check expiration date)

    •Vegetable or canola oil (need 3/4 cup plus 1-1/2 teaspoons)

    •Olive oil (need 4 tablespoons)

    •Unsweetened cocoa powder (need 3 tablespoons)

    •Ground cinnamon (need 1/2 teaspoon)

    •Ground cumin (need 2-3/4 teaspoons)

    •Dried oregano (need 1-1/2 teaspoons)

    •1 bay leaf

    •Peanut butter (need 1 tablespoon)

    •Butter (need 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons)

    •Eggs (need 6)

    •2 large heads garlic

    •Long grain white rice (need 1 cup)

    _______________________________________________________

    Specialty grocery store

    •1 (5-ounce) package whole tamarind or tamarind paste (also called tamarind concentrate)

    •6 ounces (85 to 95 percent cacao) dark chocolate (preferably Mexican chocolate

    ________________________________________________________

    Produce

    •34 limes

    •1 lemon

    •2 medium oranges

    •4 kumquats

    •1 grapefruit

    •4 medium avocados

    •1 medium butternut or acorn squash

    •3 small onions + 1 medium onion

    •1 red onion

    •1 bunch green onions

    •1 large + 1 small shallot

    •2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes

    •1 bunch carrots

    •3 bunches cilantro

    •1 bunch chives

    •1 bunch basil

    •1 bunch mint

    •1 bunch tarragon

    •1 small bunch radishes

    •About 12 ounces cremini mushrooms

    •1 poblano pepper

    •1 dried ancho chile

    •3 to 4 dried pasilla peppers

     

    Grocery

    •1 (32-ounce) bottle pink grapefruit juice

    •1 (32-ounce) bottle seltzer water

    •1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

    •1 (15-ounce) package golden raisins

    •1 (16-ounce) jar roasted peanuts

    •1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

    •2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken stock (can be reduced-sodium)

    •1 (12-ounce) can chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce

    •2 (15-ounce) cans black beans

    ________________________________________________________

    Baking aisle

    •Chili powder (need 2 tablespoons + garnish for ceviche)

    •Ground turmeric (need 1-1/2 teaspoons)

    •1 (4-ounce) jar pine nuts

     

    Butcher

    •1 plain roasted rotisserie chicken

    •1 (3-pound) pork loin

    _______________________________________________________

    Fishmonger

    •1 (1-pound) halibut fillet

     

    Frozen food aisle      

    •1 (10-ounce) package frozen roasted corn

    ________________________________________________________

    Dairy

    •1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

    •1 (1-pint) container milk

    •1 (1-pint) container half-and-half

    •1 (1/2-pint) container heavy cream

    •1 (quart) container no-pulp orange juice (need 1/3 cup)

    Cheese department

    •1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese (chèvre)

    •1 (10-ounce) package Cotija cheese (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)

    Alcohol

    •1 (750-milliliter) bottle tequila

    •1 (750-milliliter) bottle orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau

    •1 (750-milliliter) bottle mescal

    •1 (750-milliliter) bottle Campari

  • Victoria Pearson

    Tamarind-Laced Margarita

    Tamarind is a pod-like fruit that was introduced to Mexico in the 16th century by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. It has been a component of Mexican cuisine since. When young, the fruit has a distinct sweet-sour taste; as the fruit matures, it becomes sweeter.

    Start to finish: 5 minutes

    •1 lime slice

    •Kosher salt

    •Ice

    •1-1/2 ounces tequila

    •1 ounce lime juice

    •3/4 ounce simple syrup

    •3/4 ounce orange liqueur

    •1 teaspoon softened tamarind or tamarind paste (see tip)

    •1 kumquat slice

    Rub rim of rocks glass with lime slice. Dip rim in kosher salt to coat. Add ice to glass.

    In cocktail shaker half filled with ice, combine tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, orange liqueur, and tamarind. Cover; shake until very cold. Strain into prepared glass. Garnish with lime slice and kumquat slice. Makes 1 cocktail.

    Tip: To make simple syrup, in screw-top jar combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Cover; shake until sugar dissolves. Makes 3/4 cup.

    Tip: To soften tamarind fruit, remove outer shell and large fibers from whole tamarind. Place tamarind in small saucepan with 1 cup water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Drain; reserving liquid. Press fruit through fine mesh sieve into bowl. Discard solids. Add cooking liquid to reach desired consistency. Store in refrigerator. Makes 1/4 cup.

    Note: For a pitcher of margaritas, combine 1-1/2 cups tequila, 1 cup lime juice, 3/4 cup simple syrup, 3/4 cup orange liqueur, and 3 tablespoons softened tamarind or tamarind paste. Keep chilled until ready to serve. Add ice before serving and serve in ice-filled glasses. Makes 8 cocktails.

  • Victoria Pearson

    Smoky Paloma Cocktail

    Mescal adds a smoky note to this classic cocktail of fresh grapefruit juice, tequila, and sparkling soda.

    Start to finish: 5 minutes

    •Ice

    •2 ounces pink grapefruit juice

    •1-1/2 ounces simple syrup

    •1 ounce mescal

    •1 ounce tequila

    •1/2 ounce lime juice

    •1/4 ounce Campari

    •1 ounce chilled seltzer water

    •Small grapefruit wedge

    In cocktail shaker half filled with ice combine grapefruit juice, simple syrup, mescal, tequila, lime juice, and Campari. Cover; shake until very cold. 

    Strain into ice-filled glass. Top with seltzer. Garnish with grapefruit wedge. Makes 1 cocktail.

    Tip: To make simple syrup, in screw-top jar combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Cover; shake until sugar dissolves. Makes 3/4 cup.

  • Victoria Pearson

    Shredded Chicken Tacos with Mole Sauce and Goat Cheese

    A rotisserie chicken is a quick-fix step in these tacos. The mole sauce is rich and deeply flavored—use it as a sauce for roasted fish and meat as well.

    Start to finish: 30 minutes

    Chicken Tacos:

    •1 purchased roasted chicken, shredded (about 1 pound)

    •1 cup Mole Sauce (see recipe below)

    •2 tablespoons golden raisins

    •12 (4-inch) Homemade Flour Tortillas, warmed (see recipe)

    •4 ounces goat cheese (chèvre)

    •1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

    •1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

    •Lime wedges

    Mole Sauce:

    •1 dried ancho chile

    •2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    •1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

    •3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

    •2 tablespoons chili powder

    •1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    •1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

    •1/4 teaspoon salt

    •1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

    •1 cup chicken stock

    •1/4 cup golden raisins

    •1 tablespoon peanut butter

    •1/3 to 1/2 cup water

    For Chicken Tacos, in medium saucepan combine shredded chicken, Mole Sauce, and 2 tablespoons raisins. Cook; stirring over medium until heated through. 

    Top warmed tortillas with sauced chicken. Garnish with cold crumbled goat cheese, cilantro leaves, and peanuts. Serve immediately with lime wedges. Makes 12 tacos. 

    For Mole Sauce, in large, dry skillet toast ancho chile 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant, turning occasionally. Remove from skillet. Remove stem and seeds from cooled ancho chile. Tear into large pieces; set aside. 

    Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes or until soft. Add cocoa powder, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken stock, ancho pieces, 1/4 cup raisins, and peanut butter. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes on low. Transfer mixture to blender or food processor. Cover; blend until smooth, adding water as needed until desired consistency. Set aside until needed.

    Make-Ahead Tip: Mole Sauce and shredded chicken can be prepared in advance and heated through just before serving. 

    Storage: Refrigerate leftover Mole Sauce in airtight container up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. 

     

    Homemade Flour Tortillas

    This recipe makes enough tortillas for the Shredded Chicken Tacos with Mole Sauce and to serve alongside the Braised Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes and Pasilla-Honey Sauce. However, the recipe can be adapted to any size tortilla you might want for other occasions.

    Start to finish: 1 hour

    •4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    •1 tablespoon baking powder

    •1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

    •4 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons canola oil

    •1-1/2 cups warm water

    In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add oil to bowl; mix with fork. Add water slowly; begin to mix with hands until dough comes together. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until moderately soft and elastic, 3 to 4 minutes.

    Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes.

    Separate dough into twelve 2-ounce balls and twelve 1-ounce balls; cover with plastic wrap.

    Heat dry stainless-steel skillet on high heat. Working with one dough ball at a time, roll 2-ounce balls into very thin 7-inch circles or roll 1-ounce balls into very thin 4-inch circles.

    Place each tortilla onto skillet; cook about 15 seconds or until top is covered with small bubbles. Immediately turn tortilla. Use spatula to apply firm pressure on different areas of tortilla, moving around frequently. Continue cooking 15 to 20 seconds more or until evenly blistered and tortilla begins to puff up. Remove tortilla from skillet. Immediately after cooking, stack cooked tortillas in a flat, shallow container lined with a clean dish towel and wrap in towel. Let cool; place in plastic bag until ready to use. (This will keep h tortillas from drying out. Makes twelve 7-inch tortillas plus twelve 4-inch tortillas. 

    Tip: Store tortillas at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

  • Victoria Pearson

    Mushroom, Squash, and Poblano Chile Empanadas with Cotija Cheese

    The empanadas can be made ahead of time and baked from a frozen state when you’re ready to serve them.

    Hands On: 40 minutes

    Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

    Empanada dough:

    •3 cups all-purpose flour

    •1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    •5 tablespoons butter

    •1 egg

    •1/2 to 3/4 cup cold water

    Empanada filling:

    •2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    •5 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

    •1-1/2 cups butternut or acorn squash, finely chopped

    •1-1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped

    •1 roasted poblano pepper*, chopped

    •2 cloves garlic, minced

    •2 teaspoons ground cumin

    •1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    •1/2 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce

    •2 tablespoons lime juice

    Empanadas with Cotija Cheese:

    •1 egg, lightly beaten

    •1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese

    •Chipotle Crema (optional, see tip)

    For empanada dough, in large bowl combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until flour mixture looks like wet sand. Using fork, mix in 1 egg. Add water slowly; mix with fork until dough forms ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest 30 minutes. 

    For empanada filling, in large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add white parts of green onion. Cook 3 minutes or until tender. Add squash, mushrooms, poblano pepper, garlic, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and chipotle pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until squash is tender but not soft. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice. Let cool.

    To assemble empanadas, preheat oven to 350°F. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 4-inch round. 

    Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 1 tablespoon filling in center of each dough round. Brush edge of dough with water. Fold dough in half over filling. Seal by pressing edge with fork. Brush top with egg. 

    Use small knife to make three small slits in top of each empanada. Place empanadas on prepared baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

    Garnish empanadas with Cotija cheese and green parts of green onion. Serve with Chipotle Crema. Makes 24 empanadas.

    Make-Ahead Tip: After sealing empanadas, cut three slits in tops. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze 4 hours or until firm. Place in resealable plastic freezer bag; label. Freeze up to 3 months. To bake, place frozen empanadas on parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with egg. Bake in 350°F oven 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and heated through.

    *To roast poblano pepper, halve poblano. Remove seeds and membranes. Place pepper, cut side down, on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in 425°F oven 20 minutes or until skin is charred. Wrap pepper in foil; let stand 20 to 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel off skin.

    Tip: For Chipotle Crema, in a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 tablespoon water, and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. 

  • Victoria Pearson

    Braised Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes and Pasilla-Honey Sauce

    This pork main dish transitions easily from dinner party status to Sunday night dinner.

    Prep: 35 minutes

    Stand: 10 minutes

    Roast: 55 minutes at 350°F

    •3 to 4 dried pasilla peppers, seeds and stems removed

    •8 cloves garlic, peeled

    •1/2 cup boiling water

    •1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed

    •1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    •1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

    •3 tablespoons vegetable oil

    •1 (3-pound) pork loin, trimmed

    •1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrots

    •1/2 cup chopped shallots

    •1-1/2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth

    •2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks (8 cups)

    •1/2 cup honey

    •1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)

    •1 cup cilantro leaves

    In large, dry skillet add pasilla peppers; toast 3 minutes or until oils begin to release, turning occasionally. In same skillet add garlic cloves; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly blackened in spots.

    Transfer pasilla peppers to small bowl; add boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes, pushing peppers down into water occasionally.

    In blender combine peppers with water, garlic, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cumin. Cover; blend until smooth paste forms. Transfer to airtight container. Cover; chill until needed or up to 1 week.

    Preheat oven to 350°F. In deep 12-inch oven-going skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Add to skillet; sear well on all sides (4 to 5 minutes per side). Remove pork from skillet; set aside. Add carrot and shallots to skillet. Cook; stirring, 3 minutes.

    Add pasilla paste; cook and stir 2 minutes (make sure to ventilate area). Return pork to skillet. Add chicken stock and sweet potatoes; bring to boiling.

    Cover; place in preheated oven 55 to 60 minutes or until instant-read thermometer inserted in pork registers 145°F.

    Remove skillet from oven. Transfer pork and half the potatoes (about 3 cups) to platter. Stir honey into remaining potato mixture in skillet.

    Transfer mixture in skillet to blender; add 1 cup water. Cover; blend until smooth. Return to skillet. Season with salt. Return pork and potatoes to skillet. Stir to combine sauce and potatoes. Garnish with sliced onion and cilantro leaves. Makes 8 servings.

     

    Turmeric Rice, Seared Corn, and Toasted Pine Nuts

    The gorgeous color of this rice comes from turmeric, a relative of the ginger plant. It has a warm, black-pepper-like flavor and a mustard-like aroma.

    Prep: 10 minutes

    Cook: 15 minutes

    •2 tablespoons olive oil

    •1/4 cup finely chopped onion

    •1 cup long grain white rice

    •1 cup frozen roasted corn, thawed

    •1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

    •1/2 teaspoon salt

    •1 bay leaf

    •1-3/4 cups water

    •1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

    •2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

    In medium saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until soft.

    Add rice; toast 2 to 3 minutes. Add corn, turmeric, salt, and bay leaf; stir. 

    Add water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

    Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in cilantro. Top rice with pine nuts. Makes 8 servings.

     

    Mashed Black Beans with Chipotle Crema

    Black beans are traditionally served separately from rice; here they become a hearty side dish topped with a spicy-smooth chipotle crema.

    Prep: 10 minutes

    Cook: 8 minutes

    •1 tablespoon canola oil

    •1 tablespoon butter

    •1 small onion, finely chopped

    •1 clove garlic, minced

    •1/4 cup chicken stock

    •2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

    •2 tablespoons crumbled Cotija cheese

    •Chipotle Crema*

    •1 lime, cut into wedges

    In large skillet add oil and butter; heat on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add chicken stock; return to simmer.

    In another bowl add black beans; lightly mash them. Add beans to onion mixture; simmer 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese. Serve with Chipotle Crema and lime wedges. Makes 8 servings.

    *For Chipotle Crema, in small bowl, in a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 tablespoon water, and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Sprinkle with chili powder.

    Make-Ahead Tip: Store beans and Chipotle Crema separately in airtight containers up to 3 days. Reheat beans in a skillet on medium heat with an additional 2 tablespoons chicken stock. Cook 5 minutes or until heated through. Serve as directed.

  • Victoria Pearson

    Halibut Ceviche with Avocado

    Substitute a firm-flesh fish such as halibut in place of scallops or shrimp in ceviche. The fish will absorb the citrus flavors but keep its firm texture.

    Hands On: 25 minutes

    Start to finish: 40 minutes

    •1 pound halibut fillet, skinned and cut in 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces

    •1 cup lime juice

    •1/3 cup orange juice

    •1/4 cup lemon juice

    •1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

    •1 tablespoon minced shallot

    •1 tablespoon torn fresh cilantro leaves

    •4 medium avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and sliced

    •Kosher salt

    •2 medium oranges, cut up

    •2 limes, cut in small wedges

    •Chili powder

    •Herb and Radish Salad (optional, recipe below)

    In large bowl combine halibut, lime juice, orange juice, lemon juice, red onion, shallot, and cilantro. Mix to combine; let stand 15 to 30 minutes.

    Season avocado slices with salt. On large platter arrange avocado slices, orange pieces, and lime wedges. Using slotted spoon, scoop ceviche beside avocado slices. Sprinkle with chili powder. Serve alongside or topped with Herb and Radish Salad. Makes 8 servings.

    Herb and Radish Salad: In medium bowl toss together 1 cup torn fresh cilantro leaves, 1/2 cup coarsely snipped fresh chives, 1/4 cup torn fresh basil, 1/4 cup torn fresh mint, 1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes, and 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves. For dressing, in small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Drizzle herbs with dressing; season with salt.

    Tip: Choosing a ripe avocado: Pick an avocado with a dark, almost black peel. It should yield to firm, gentle pressure but not feel too soft. The flesh under the stem should appear green not brown.

    Tip: Fish safety: Marinating the fish in citrus juice will make it firm and flavorful but will not destroy all bacteria that is present. Be sure to use only the freshest fish you can buy—order in advance from your fishmonger and use the same day as purchased. Freezing fish at -31°F for 15 hours or -10°F for seven days will kill any parasites.

  • Victoria Pearson

    Vanilla-Laced Tres Leches Cake

    Mexico gave us two culinary giants—vanilla from an orchid plant and chocolate from the cacao bean. They are combined in this tres leches cake, which, due to a dollop of sour cream in the batter, has a firmer texture than the traditional cake.

    Hands On: 25 minutes

    Total time: 9 hours including overnight chilling time

    1/2 cup butter, softened

    1 cup granulated sugar

    1/4 cup sour cream

    4 eggs

    1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    2 teaspoons baking powder

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/4 cup milk

    1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

    1-1/2 cups half-and-half

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    6 ounces (85 to 95 percent cacao) dark chocolate (preferably Mexican chocolate)

    1 cup heavy cream

    1 tablespoon powdered sugar

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 3-quart rectangular baking dish.

    In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar; beat until fluffy. Beat in sour cream until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time.

    In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half flour mixture and half milk to butter mixture; blend well. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Pour batter into dish. Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake on wire rack.

    In medium bowl combine sweetened condensed milk, half-and-half, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Use fork to prick lots of holes in cake. Gradually, evenly drizzle milk mixture over cake. Cover; chill overnight.

    Use vegetable peeler to shave 2 ounces chocolate into curls. Chill curls until ready to use.

    For chocolate drizzle, in small saucepan melt remaining 4 ounces chocolate over low heat. 

    In medium bowl, beat cream, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight).

    Spread whipped cream onto top of cake. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Makes 8 servings.

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