Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Milk, Milk, and More Milk: Chapter 5 — Connecting Food with Culture

Monday, August 9th, 2021

On hot, sticky days in Chicago’s humid summers, where my family would crowd under the kitchen fan, one dessert would manage to cool us all down: tres leches. 

Tres leches is the king of all cakes all desserts in the Mexican culture. The rich, ultra decadent, and insanely moist cake wets the front of your shirt and makes your lips stick together, leaving your mouth to taste sweet for the rest of the evening. No matter how many glasses of milk you may drink afterward the sugary taste still lingers. It was the dessert least consumed in my family, but the one most desired by all. 

As you can see, I have always loved cake.

If you have never had the pleasure of digging into a thick slice of tres leches, try and picture this: a vanilla cake drowned in three types of milk, hence the name “tres leches,” and topped with whipped cream. It may sound a little too rich, but I promise you it is worth all the hype I am giving it. 

About a month ago, while sitting on the couch with my roommates, I suddenly decided I was going to make a tres leches. I don’t know what compelled me to do this, or what even prompted the idea, but the simple thought of slicing into the sinful, whipped cream-topped morsel made my mouth water. With this seed of inspiration, I took to an unsuspecting source for recipes: TikTok. 

Finding good Mexican food, let alone baked goods, in Manhattan is difficult. If you want the authentic taste that brings you back to eating meals with your family around your grandmother’s kitchen table, you have to go to Queens, and unfortunately, I simply don’t have the time to do that right now. So, I have resorted to recreating the dishes I crave from my past in my tiny apartment’s kitchen. Surprisingly, TikTok has been my main source of recipes when it comes to making Mexican dishes that my family never taught me. Not only is it a great way to visually learn, but many of the users are conscious of a careful-spending budget. When my sudden and very urgent craving for tres leches began, TikTok was the first place I searched for a recipe. 

I love to bake it runs in my blood. My maternal grandmother never leaves the house without a tray of freshly baked potato chip cookies: the most strange, but insanely delicious, shortbread cookies with crushed potatoes chips in them to offset the sweetness. Her love for baking was passed down to me as a child. For a few years as a teenager, my brothers could expect to finish dinner off with carrot cake cupcakes or some variation of cookies. I knew I would be able to make a good tres leches, but I wanted it to be more than its traditional form; I wanted it to remind me of the cake my dad would bring home in a neat white box, covered in whipped cream with a certain twist that no one could put their finger on. I wanted it to remind me of laughing with my cousins when we would get whipped cream on our noses, threatening to touch each other with sticky fingers left from the cake. I knew that those specific memories would be hard to grasp, but not impossible. 

After a quick search on TikTok, I came across a surprisingly easy and affordable recipe from the user @cici.soriano. With a quick trip to the grocery store, I felt prepared to make this cake. Although it didn’t exactly remind me of the scrumptious memories of my childhood, it provided me with something more important: the pleasure of knowing that I can bring aspects of my culture with me wherever I am. Watching the smile on my roommates’ faces as they tasted the fondest recollections of my past, their lips sticky from the condensed milk, reminded me of the joy I felt as a child when having my favorite cake for dessert. 

My first attempt at making tres leches. I made sure to make caramel from leftover cans of condensed milk and drizzled that on top.

Sometimes, finding delight in your cultural food means making it yourself, no matter how difficult it may be. My tres leches is not exactly traditional or completely “homemade,” but it allows me to briefly remember the joys of my childhood, and has provided my friends with a new favorite dessert. The next time you recreate your favorite cultural meals, desserts, or simple snacks, consider sharing them with your friends it may become their favorite, too. 

Tres Leches Cake


– 1 can of evaporated milk

– 1 can of sweetened condensed milk

– 1 can of whole milk (use leftover can of condensed/evaporated milk to measure)

– 1 box of vanilla cake mix 

– 1.5 cups of heavy cream

– 2 tbsp of powdered sugar

– 2 tbsp of vanilla extract 

– 2 tbsp of cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven according to cake mix instructions.
  2. Assemble cake.
  3. Blend evaporated, condensed, and whole milk along with cinnamon and vanilla extract in a blender until combined and smooth. 
  4. Whip heavy cream and powdered sugar together until soft peaks form. 
  5. When done baking according to box instructions, let the cake cool for 20 minutes.
  6. Trim the brown top off of the cake, along with the sides. Poke small holes all around the cake. The more holes you have, the better the milk mixture will seep in. 
  7. Pour milk mixture over the cake. 
  8. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

If you don’t have the time or resources to bake your own cake, head to Amorino for 20% off your gelato order!

By: Allegra Ruiz

Allegra Ruiz is a junior at New York University and she is from Chicago. She studies English and is minoring in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading books and essay collections, and cooking for her roommates. Currently, she lives quietly in New York. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


Dorothea’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

 It’s a regular Wednesday evening in 2101. In room B, two of my roommates are preoccupied with the video game Among Us, and are screaming accusations into their phones, “Why would you think it was me!? Weren’t you just saying Marcos was looking suss?” 

Meanwhile, Dorothea and I sit at our Ikea table observing the ingredients I bought earlier in the day. We are excited to experiment with the cake flour and Ghirardelli chocolate chips when making our rendition of America’s most iconic sweet: the chocolate chip cookie. 

This dessert was invented in 1938 by Ruth Wakefield at the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts. Wakefield originally called them Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies. During World War 2 soldiers from Massachusetts shared the treat, which gave it national and international renown. This resulted in Nestle purchasing the recipe and printing it on the back of every bag of chocolate chips. 

Dorothea is from New Jersey and is studying acting at NYU Tisch. We first met on move-in day, when she bounded into the apartment enthusiastically shouting, “HELLO QUEENS!!”  She then proceeded to embrace everyone. 

As my fellow early bird in the apartment, we spend most mornings chatting while studying and drinking coffee. She is always willing to listen and support people and will do so with great enthusiasm. Dorothea is what Anne Shirley would describe as a kindred spirit.  

“What recipe are we using today?” 

Dorothea pulls out a cute recipe book she bought from Moleskin. The soft leather cover is decorated with baked goods and cooking appliances. Inside the book, she has ingredients and measurements written down for “Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies.” The informality of the book reminds me of my mother’s collection of family recipes. 

I think the benefit of personalizing your recipes is it solidifies your identity. Last week when I made lu rou fan with Alison, and I talked about how cooking gives you the power to recreate home. Only you know what home tastes like, and you have the greatest capability of satisfying your taste buds. Documenting personal recipes allows you to develop this identity as a cook and consumer.  

Dorothea’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Dorothea’s recipe book

Dorothea starts the process by melting 2½ sticks of butter in the microwave, while I mix ¾ cup brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar in a big bowl. As we carry on with our tasks, I ask why she started baking. She tells me of her childhood fascination with her sister’s easy-bake oven, and of how when the toy broke her mother told her to start using the real oven. This led to a middle-school obsession with making cupcakes until she became fascinated with the chocolate chip cookie.  

“Chocolate chip cookies were a big craze in the Tasti and food blogger world, and I was really attracted to that. The opportunity to play around and experiment was exciting to me.”

Besides being a fun experiment, Dorothea tells me that chocolate chip cookies are very nostalgic. They remind her of coming home from school and discovering that her mom had made cookies. This was a surprise that was always well received. 

Dorothea mixes in the vanilla, salt, baking powder, and flour. She tells me how she rarely measures ingredients when baking.

“I never follow a recipe totally. I don’t know why…I think it’s my ego! Even if it is the smallest thing, like adding more salt. I usually go off the skeletal structure and then I take the derivative.”

This response reminds me of Alison’s cooking methods, and her advice to trust your gut. However, while Alison’s deviations from the recipes are carefully measured and thought out, Dorothea’s acts with more impulsiveness. The mixture comes out more liquid-like than Toll House’s classic recipe. Dorothea tells me that less flour and more butter makes the cookie softer and chewier, which we both agree make for the most delicious chocolate chip cookie. 

Cookie dough mixture

We let the dough sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, which Dorothea tells me gives it a chance to thicken. While waiting we sit in our living room, and I ask her why she likes to bake.  

“Cooking, baking, and theater are when I am happiest. I always think of acting like this–  playing with different acting choices is like playing with different ingredients.”

Cookies on baking sheet

After putting the cookies in the oven, I take time to reflect on the things I have learned: 

  1. Collect. Saving recipes allows you to form an identity as a cook and consumer. 
  2. Experiment. Experimentation gives you a chance to personalize your cooking.  
  3. Fun! This is less of a tip and more of an appreciation point for Dorothea’s passion for baking. 

The apartment is filled with comforting smells of sugar and vanilla. When the cookies come out, they are doughy in the middle and crispy around the edges. We do a taste test, and I decided that the Ghirardelli chocolate chips were worth the extra cash. The chocolate is rich and sweet, with a slight bitterness. 

When the kitchen is cleaned and the cookies are put away, I think about how Dorothea’s passion for baking is similar to my own. Although baking cookies isn’t a seemingly important endeavor, I think the opportunity to play is positive and fulfilling. It reminds me that while I am trying to find my way in the world, it is good to remember small pleasures.

End result


World Trade Press. “United States: Chocolate Chip Cookies.” AtoZ World Food, 2 November 2020.

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By: Erin Zubarik

Hello! My name is Erin Zubarik and I am a junior at New York University majoring in Global Liberal Studies and minoring in Chinese and Italian. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to study abroad in Florence and Beijing, where I enhanced my language skills and became acquainted with lovely people. This fall I am primarily holed up in my apartment taking online classes, and playing with my hamster Pork Chop. I am very excited to share my cooking and relationships series this fall on Campus Clipper! 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.