In The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History by Ellen Silverman and Ana Sofia Peláez, Peláez writes evocatively about ventanitas, the street-front windows out of which Cuban bakeries and cafe’s often operate “like beehives scattered across the Miami landscape”. The recipe for el pecado (below), which layers three kinds of milk with strong Cuban coffee, is so compelling, we’re going to make it this weekend. Knowing us, three kinds of milk can be one too many. We like to strip it down a bit to just condensed milk — essential — and lots of whole milk froth.

When you first walk into Tinta y Café, it’s hard not to focus on how different it is from the typical ventanita. A family business run by Malu Statz and her cousin Carlos Santamarina, here the sandwiches are well-pressed but made with freshly baked French baguettes, the empanadas are Argentinian, and Colombian sancocho is as likely a daily special as Cuban tamal en cazuela. Drawing in people from both its historic little Havana neighborhood and upscale Brickell nearby, what hasn’t changed is the sound—the steady murmur of customers crowding the sidewalk that streams in through the open window and wraps itself around the lunch counter where regulars place their orders and make themselves heard over the ever-playing music and steady din from the kitchen. Their el pecado, layered with condensed milk, espresso, steamed evaporated milk, and topped with the perfect milky foam, turns coffee into dessert—a forgivable sin.

Ellen Silverman
Ellen Silverman

We find Ikea’s milk frother is a powerfully easy way to make seriously creamy froth from whole milk. It’s available at Ikea for about $3 or Amazon for $6.50.

El Pecado (Layered Coffee)

This recipe is really an approach with rough proportions. You can scale it up to serve more people.

for 1

2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces prepared freshly brewed espresso
¼ cup evaporated milk (optional)
¼ cup whole milk

Fill the bottom of an 8-ounce glass with condensed milk.

Slowly pour the espresso over the condensed milk to create a second layer.

Bring the evaporated milk to a simmer in a small saucepan, then gently pour into the espresso layer.

Simmer the whole milk then whisk until frothy (a milk frother makes a super creamy foam). Top off the glass with the frothy whole milk.

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2 replies on “Cure for Bed Heads: Our Stripped Down Version of The Cuban Table’s Sublime El Pecado (Layered Coffee)

  1. A work of art – kinda Rothko in a glass. Well, sort of…
    Looks very tasty, will have to attempt it.
    Thanks, you always are great at making me want to try things. Cool.

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