cupcakes and cactus, together at last

9 Sep

Okay, so I didn’t actually have cactus cupcakes–but if you gave me one, I can now safely say I would try it. (New Life Goal: Become judge on Cupcake Wars episode featuring cactus as challenge ingredient.) After a weekend visit to one of my favorite Deland restaurants, de la Vega (formerly known as Penachos) and trying their huarache de nopal I am officially dubbing cactus “the watermelon of the desert.” What exactly is in huarache de nopal?

huarache de nopal

huarache de nopal, starring cactus!

“A delicious tender chicken breast baked with poblano, green and red peppers, spread with cream cheese and topped with a red mild sauce. Served on a savory grilled cactus leaf.”

Cactus has the texture of a moderately sauteed pepper, but a light flavor that really does make desert imagery (the Georgia O’Keefe kind, not the snakes, scorpions and death-by-dehydration kind) burst in your mind when you try it. This dish earns two and half noms. With de la Vega’s best-ever guacamole appetizer, I bump this experience up to a full triple nom nom nom!

And last but not least, I hope you left room for dessert, aka devils food cupcakes topped with marshmallows. My sister-in-law made these super cute and totally yummy concoctions for my brother’s birthday:

cupcakes w/ marshmallows

cupcakes w/ marshmallows

The recipe is featured in this month’s Real Simple magazine, but I think the basic idea is you add the jumbo marshmallows to the cupcakes during the last 2-3 minutes they’re in the oven. And guys, you know how good these must be when the following words come out of my mouth, but here it goes: Move over, Publix buttercream icing, there’s a new sheriff in town!

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