Smoky Beef Tacos & Churro Cupcakes


Last week I was chatting with my co-worker who moved to Toronto from Mexico a few years ago. I excitedly asked about her Cinco de Mayo plans and was humourlessly informed that it is not celebrated in Mexico and is basically a pointless holiday. Okay then! Since I will latch on to any excuse to eat tacos, I ignored her comments and set out to find an old issue of Everyday Food from 2009 that I remembered had a Smoky Beef Taco recipe in it. I got a 3.5lb beef roast from Whole Foods to put in my slowcooker, and at that point thought I better invite people over, instead of bringing on a lethal case of the meat sweats.

The recipe describes how to make this beef in the oven, but I adapted it for my slowcooker, following the same procedure as for pulled pork: sear the roast in a hot skillet, move it to the slowcooker with all the sauce ingredients, cook overnight, shred the meat in the morning, strain the sauce, and reheat the whole thing when your friends come over. We also had a variety of tortillas (soft flour, soft corn, crispy corn from a yellow box), and shredded cheddar, an easy salsa fresca, cilantro-lime crema (sour cream with cilantro and lime mixed in) and a tragic avocado-red onion mixture (my avocados didn’t ripen in time!). So with just a little extra prep, it’s easy to turn regular taco night (which we all love anyway) into something a little more delicious. (Thanks Leianne for the photos!).

And obviously there was dessert. Last year I was obsessed with Tres Leches Cake, and bought everything to make it last year on Cinco de Mayo, but it never happened. I had every intention of finally making it this year, when I saw this recipe for Churro Cupcakes on The Curvy Carrot and everything changed. Do you know what Churros are? Basically fried dough, tossed in cinnamon sugar. The cupcake version has a brown sugar-cinnamon cake base, filled with dulce de leche, topped with cinnamon cream cheese icing, and decorated with little crispy strips of fried tortillas. Totally unnecessary, but absolutely delicious. I made a half batch which yielded 9 cupcakes, but the whole recipe is below. Don’t ask me why I loved these, but I hate snickerdoodles. I guess I have a complex relationship with cinnamon in baked goods.

Smoky Beef Tacos

Source: Everyday Food, March 2009


1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 lbs)

2-3 tbsp chopped chipotle chiles in adobo

1/2 cup ketchup

8 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp dried oregano


  1. Get out a big skillet, drizzle around some canola oil, and heat over medium heat. When it’s hot, sear your roast on all sides until it has a nice brown crust.
  2. While the roast is searing, stir together remaining ingredients in the slowcooker. Add the roast.
  3. Set slowcooker to low, and let cook overnight. In the morning, remove the beef to a big glass baking dish, and shred with two forks, removing all the fat. Put the lid on the dish or cover with foil, and stick it in the fridge.
  4. Strain the sauce into a saucepan, and set the saucepan in the fridge for a few hours. (This sounds gross, but the fat will collect at the top of the sauce and harden, making it easy to remove).
  5. About half an hour before your friends come over, remove the fat from the sauce, and simmer the sauce to reduce it a little bit. Pour it over the beef, stir, and reheat the whole thing in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes or so.
  6.  Set up your taco bar with your tortillas and toppings of choice.

Churro Cupcakes

Source: The Curvy Carrot



3 cups cake & pastry flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups milk

Dulce de Leche for filling (I used up maybe 1/3 of the jar)


8 oz cream cheese (1 box), room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups icing sugar

2-3 splashes milk or cream to loosen up the icing

Crispy Tortilla Strips

1 or 2 flour tortillas, cut into little strips

canola oil

2tbsp cinnamon mixed with 2 tbsp sugar


1. For cupcakes, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

2. In another large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until fluffy.

3. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk, ending with the flour. Mix gently between additions, only until ingredients are just blended.

4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool completely. I actually put mine in the fridge, because it’s easier to cut out the middles.

5. For icing, beat cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and cinnamon and mix again. Add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Mine was really thick at this point, so i added some milk to loosen it up.

6. To assemble, cut a hole out of the middle of each cupcake and fill with dulce de leche. Spread icing on top. If you really want to go nuts, make the crispy tortilla strips. I don’t recommend the method from the recipe because deep frying is annoying, messy, and pretty gross. I would just brush a little bit of canola oil onto the tortillas, bake in the oven until crispy, then toss with cinnamon sugar.

This entry was posted in Beef & Pork, Cakes, Cupcakes & Icing, Slowcooker and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Smoky Beef Tacos & Churro Cupcakes

  1. trivialpursuits says:

    This is my first time to read your blog. It’s so funny because earlier in the week, I made a pork roast with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I also added some tomato paste and beef broth. I cooked it in the crockpot and we have been eating it all week. Tacos, nachoes and home made taquitos. YUM! Your cupcakes sound amazing!

  2. Tatiana says:

    Yum-yum-yum, deliciosO!
    I wish I could make the pulled beef, but anything that even looks stringy is a no-go in our house w/ the child and all. I do want a taco now…

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