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Higher Learning

Get Involved: Colorado Outward Bound's ASCEND program

For 52 years, Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) has led students on outdoor excursions with the belief that the lessons learned from pushing mental and physical limits in nature—perseverance, integrity, responsibility—also translate to life once you’re out of the woods. But the experience doesn’t come cheap: An eight-day trip runs about $1,200. Fortunately, a new partnership with STRIVE Preparatory Schools and Denver School of Science and Technology—called ASCEND (Accelerating Scholars and Citizens for Empowerment, Nurturing, and Development)—helps provide high schoolers who couldn’t otherwise afford the trips with partial COBS scholarships. And you can help, too, by attending COBS’ Black Tie & Tennis Shoes Gala (October 16, History Colorado Center, $200), which raises money for the scholarship fund. You’ll meet ASCEND students and hear from James Edward Mills, author of The Adventure Gap and a member of the first all-African-American team to summit Denali. Who better to teach kids there’s no mountain so high they can’t climb it?

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Higher Learning

The cookbook for college kids.

One can only survive on cafeteria food for so long—at least, that’s what Taylor Stephan quickly learned while attending the University of Colorado Boulder. As a 19-year-old with a penchant for the kitchen, he began grocery shopping and cooking for his five roommates. The end result is College Cooks (Cool Eatz Publishing), a cookbook for students or recent grads just beginning to fend for themselves. Many of the recipes are basic (chicken lettuce wraps, breakfast burritos), but they lay the foundation for greater dishes (lamb chops with garlic, Korean pork tenderloin) down the line. Bonus: a solid list of kitchen essentials, a glossary of cooking terminology, and sample menus. Exclusive: Make Stephan’s Tres Leches Cake in your own kitchen.

Coconut Milk Cake (Recipe Excerpted From Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor)

Pastel de Tres Leches con Coco

(Makes 18 servings)

The longer this cake sits, the better it tastes. And don’t skip the toasted coconut.


1 cup all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, separated

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup coconut milk (make sure it’s milk, not cream)

Tres Leches

1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Splash rum or brandy (optional)

Whipped cream

2 cups cold heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar


½ cup coconut, toasted (optional)

Fruit of choice

Mint sprigs for garnish (optional)


Make cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks with ¾ cup of sugar on high until light yellow in color. Mix in the vanilla and coconut milk. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix these gently until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high until you have soft peaks. Add ¼ cup sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into the batter.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread out until batter looks even. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to make sure cake is ready by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If toothpick comes out clean it’s ready. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes.

While cake is still warm, pierce the cake all over with a fork making sure you pierce the edges. This will allow the milk mixture to drain into the cake when you pour it over.

Make Tres Leches:

Whip together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, vanilla, and splash of rum, if using. This will make about 3 cups.

Slowly pour about 2½ cups of the tres leches over the entire cake. Make sure to get around the edges. Do not worry about the puddling of the milk mixture, the sponge cake will absorb it in about 30 minutes. Save the rest of the milk mixture in the refrigerator for later. Cover the cake with plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator, and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Make whipped cream:

Put the cold whipping cream and sugar in a large cold mixing bowl and mix on high until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Reserve in covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To serve:

For each serving, ladle a tablespoon of the leftover milk mixture onto a serving plate. Place a piece of cake on the milk mixture, top with a dollop of whipped cream, sprinkle with toasted coconut, and top with pineapple chunks or your favorite fruit. Garnish with mint spring.