Tres Leches ("three milks") Cake is thought to have originated in Central America, probably Nicaragua, in the late 1800s. It remains very popular there and in Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. And at my house.
In some cultures, Tres Leches is a popular special occasion cake, such as for Christmas and birthdays. It's a fun cake to serve- people are usually fascinated with the idea of soaking a cake in something, and then they fall in love with the rich, cool, creamy taste.
Never mushy, always perfectly moist, this is a wonderful cake to have in your baking repertoire.
Tres Leches Cake
For the cake:
- 7 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the liquid to pour over the cake:
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
- 1 cup half and half
- For the topping:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- sweetened shredded coconut (optional)
- maraschino cherries, drained and patted dry (optional)
- 1. Beat egg yolks, butter, and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until mixture is creamy.
- 2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to egg yolk mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
- 3. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold gently into batter. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan.
- 4. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the cake in the pan.
- 5. Pierce cake (all over, each hole about 1" apart) with a small wooden skewer. Stir together condensed milk, evaporated milk, and half and half; gradually pour and spread over warm cake. (Pour about 1/4 cup at a time, spreading well into the holes, allowing mixture to soak into cake before pouring more.) Cover and chill overnight.
- 6. Beat heavy cream and confectioner's sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread topping evenly over cake. Sprinkle with coconut and garnish with cherries, if desired. Keeps well for several days, covered in the refrigerator.
- Cook's notes: It seems like a lot of liquid to pour over the cake, but just keep pouring. I have seen some recipes that recommend that you use only part of the liquid, and to discard the rest. Please don't do that. The cake really does soak it all up, and you want that little pool of creamy sauce to appear around the cake when you plate it.