Malka Espinel started working with pastries at Grove Isle, back in the day when Mark Militello was running the restaurant there. The Colombian-born chef went on to work at a couple of other notable spots (such as 1220 at The Tides) and then teamed with Johnny Vinczencz at his original Astor Place establishment; at Sundy House; and at Johnny V's in Ft. Lauderdale (625 East Las Olas Blvd.;954-761-7920) -- where she is still composing fantastic treats today. Ms. Espinel is simply one of South Florida's very finest pastry chefs, as evidenced by this delectably creative "drunken" mojito rum cake, which she serves with tropical fruit salsa, Tahitian vanilla ice cream, and churritos.
Drunken Mojito Rum Cake
Executive Chef: Malka Espinel
6 oz. all purpose flour, sifted
6 oz. sugar
3 oz. melted butter
1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄/4 cup finely chopped mint
Grated zest of 2 limes
In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs and sugar.
Place mixture in a double boiler, whisking constantly until eggs are
warm but not too hot. Whip with the electric mixer until about triple
its volume. Add a little of the egg mix to the melted butter and
combine well. Fold this back into the egg mixture. Sift the flour with
the baking powder 3 times and carefully fold into the egg mix. Add the
chopped mint and lime zest and combine. Pour this mixture into 8
individual greased bundt molds or into one large 8-inch bundt mold.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 12 minutes for the individual molds
and about 35 minutes for the large mold. Remove from the oven, let cool
Soak with mojito syrup and serve with vanilla ice cream and fresh tropical fruits.
Ingredients/Directions (mojito syrup)
8 oz. sugar
8 oz. water
1/2 cup mint leaves
Peel of one lime
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1/4 cup white rum
Put sugar, water and lime peel in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat and add the mint leaves. Let infuse for about 30
minutes. Add the rum and pour over cake.