Got Three Milks?
Try this easy Tres Leches Cake (Three-Milk Cake).
This decadent and delicious cake is super easy to prepare and tastes even better after sitting in the refrigerator overnight. To make it even one step easier, it’s best to leave it in the Pyrex dish you bake it in and serve it right from there. Though it looks rather plain, its melt-in-your-mouth moist making it a great dessert to make ahead and bring to a dinner (or kids’) party. Serve it on its own or dress it up with a dollop of whipped cream, cool whip, or vanilla ice cream and a few fresh berries.
I teach a couple of adult education Peruvian cooking classes and this cake is on our menu to make for dessert. It’s a popular dessert in all Latin cultures with slight variations, such as adding different liquors, orange zest, coconut or cocoa. So, I thought I would share it with you since it’s also a nice dessert served warm for this time of year.
When I say this recipe can be super simple, I mean it can be as simple as using your favorite box yellow cake mix, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and some vanilla ice cream. Done!
A more traditional recipe follows the general rules of a sponge cake. A sponge cake falls into the category of foam cakes which also includes genoise, roulades/jelly rolls, angel food and chiffon. (Don’t run away yet! It’s not as daunting as it sounds.) The Tres Leches Cake is just a simple sponge soaked in a mixture of three milks: sweetened condensed, evaporated and heavy cream.
All this really means is that you need to beat the egg whites and yolks separately. Sponge cakes have a higher proportion of eggs to flour and sugar and basically little or no fat (like butter). Some recipes for Tres Leches Cake I’ve seen do have butter, and that’s fine. But the importance here is that this type of cake generally is leavened by the eggs, so whipping air into the yolks and whites separately gives it a nice spongy texture. This helps it to absorb and hold all the milk syrup. Sinful…
Here is a recipe adapted from one I had in Peru.
Tres Leches Cake
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup each of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 T dark rum (optional)
GARNISHES: Fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, fresh berries
Preheat oven to 350°F
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar to soft peaks while gradually adding ¼ cup of sugar. Beat only until the whites are glossy and firm, but not dry.
Beat the egg yolks and remaining ¾ cup sugar to a ribbon consistency (light and fluffy) for about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder.
Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture just until combined. Pour the batter into a well-buttered 9x13in Pyrex baking dish. Bake until cake feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean (about 25 minutes). Perforate cake all over with a fork or wooden skewer.
Combine the milks and cream, vanilla and rum in a measuring cup. Whisk until well blended. Poor the syrup all over the cake while it is still warm. It will slowly absorb the syrup. (Depending on what type of cake you make, or if using a box cake, you may not need all the syrup.)
Wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve warm or cold right from the baking dish. (Note: cake can be inverted onto a platter before adding milk syrup, spoon overflow of syrup back onto cake.)
Serve with fresh berries, whipped cream or ice cream.