|The Loretto Chapel Staircase|
(The funny thing is that my camera died during vacation
and this is the only picture that came out clear! Kind of weird!)
I recently took a wonderful trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, specifically to visit the Loretto Chapel and its miraculous staircase. The Loretto Chapel was founded by Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy and the Sisters of Loretto who started a school and made plans to build the chapel. After raising 30,000 dollars, Bishop Lamy hired architect Antoine Mouly and his son, Projectus Mouly from Paris, France to build the chapel in the Gothic Revival-style patterned after King Louis IX's Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Construction began in 1873, complete with stained glass from the DuBois Studio in Paris. The chapel was completed in 1878 with the exception of a staircase to the choir loft, which was deemed impossible in the small space and that a ladder would be the only way to access the loft. That is until the Sisters made a novena (nine days of prayer) to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox.
Months later, the unknown carpenter completed the miraculous staircase which features two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support, made with wood not native to the area and only wooden pegs! Apparently the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. The Sisters searched for the carpenter, even placing an ad in the newspaper, to no avail. It then became legend that the carpenter was none other than St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the Sisters' prayer. A true miracle!
Just as the staircase was deemed impossible, so is the classic Mexican dessert - Chocoflan (aka, Impossible Cake). This magic of chocoflan, a combination of cayeta (goat milk caramel), flan and chocolate cake batter miraculously separate into distinct layers during baking, which is why it's also known in Spanish as "pastel imposible," or impossible cake! I've tried many recipes for this delicious dessert, but have determined that the best one is also the simplest. Instead of making the batter from scratch, this recipe utilizes store-bought cake mix and cayeta, making it simple to put together. In addition, this cake needs to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours before unmolding and serving; however, I think it tastes even better if you allow 48 hours in the fridge before unmolding and serving. So, if you are looking for a miracle, perhaps the impossible is just one cake away.
Chocoflan (aka, Impossible Cake)
1 cup cajeta, divided
1, 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1, 12-ounce can evaporated milk
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 package chocolate cake mix (2-layer size) (Plus whatever ingredients as directed on package.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup cayeta in bottom of pan. Place Bundt pan in large roasting pan. Set aside.
Beat eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Set aside.
Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. Pour batter over cajeta in Bundt pan. Slowly pour flan mixture over batter. Cover pan with foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Carefully pour hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up side of Bundt pan.
Bake 1 1/2 hours or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Transfer Bundt pan from water bath to wire rack. Remove foil and cool completely.
Refrigerate at least 24 hours. (I prefer 48 hours!) Loosen cake from sides of pan. To unmold, invert pan onto a serving platter. Remove pan. Warm remaining 1/2 cup cajeta and drizzle over the top. Enjoy!