Pan de elote—Mexican cornbread or corn cake—is very different from typical American cornbread. The batter is a wet mixture with very little flour and sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar. I believe anything that calls for a can of sweetened condensed milk MUST be good.
Sweetened condensed milk is used in many Central and South American desserts. Adding sugar to condensed milk—which is simply milk with its water content partially evaporated—helps extend its shelf life, allowing this ingredient to sit in your pantry for years until it's needed for a recipe just like this one. Sugar also helps thicken the condensed milk, which adds an exceptionally moist texture and sweet, concentrated milky flavor to baked goods like tres leches cake and key lime pie.
After it's baked, pan de elote benefits enormously from cooling in the pan for several hours before slicing and serving. This will help the cornbread "settle" into itself and achieve the ideal balance of density, fluff, and just a hint of crumbliness.
I first tried pan de elote at a roadside stand on one of my first trips to Monterrey, Mexico. Vendors were selling sheets of it for practically nothing. Try this Mexican cornbread at the peak of the summer corn season for maximum flavor. —mpittsm
Test Kitchen Notes
I really liked this. It's just sweet and salty enough to be interesting, and super-easy to make. —Stephanie Bourgeois
Add the corn kernels, milk, butter and vanilla extract to a blender or food processor, and purée until mostly smooth. If you like the presentation of whole kernels, set aside about 1/4 cup before puréeing.
Once the mixture is mostly smooth, add the eggs and pulse 5 or 6 times. Add the rest of the ingredients, and purée until well-incorporated. Fold in the reserved corn kernels (if using).
Butter a 9 x 13 pan, pour in the batter, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove the pan de elote from the oven, and allow to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.