Mmmmm Tres Leches. Besides being a Los Angeles fave (try the Tres Leches at Porto’s Bakery in Glendale and see if you don’t fall in love… with the cake), it also features in FLING GIRL’s first issue. Stay tuned to find out how… Til then, our very own Chef Natalie has a Tres Leches recipe you can whip up at home. We’re not as gourmet as Chef Natalie so if we can do it, you can too. Give it a try!

Tres Leches, or Three Milks (condensed, evaporate and whole milk) cake is one of those simple looking cakes thats out-of-this-world good. Its beginnings are traced everywhere from Mexico to Central America to the Caribbean (thanks to their delicious rum-based cakes, no doubt). It can be as easy or as detailed as you want to make it. And by easy, I mean buying certain components of this recipe instead of homemade. It also happens to be one of those cakes that really is better the next day, so this is an overnight recipe. No from the oven-to-your-mouth on this one folks, but its worth it. Seriously. Let’s get started!

There are 3 components to a traditional Tres Leches cake: 1- Sponge Cake (nice and spongy = absorbing more of that 3 milk magic, which is why, if any of you Flingers out there want to skip this part and buy a store bought sponge cake, you should look for a dense sponge cake so it can hold up against the milk mixture); 2- the Milk Mixture; and 3- Dulce de Leche.

1- SPONGE CAKE RECIPE

As stated above, you can buy make this a little easier and buy certain components of this recipe. If you want to buy the sponge cake, look for a dense cake, something that can hold up to being dunked in milk.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 6 large eggs (separate out the whites from the yolks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Preheat Oven to 325°.
  • Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk flour and baking soda.
  • In a large bowl add egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form (beat until the egg whites hold on to the beater, looking like a snow-capped mountain).
  • In another large bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar on medium speed until the mixture tones down in color to a pale yellow and becomes thick).
  • Beat the egg whites and dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Scrape batter into pan, bake for 30 minutes; Test with a toothpick, it should come out clean if it’s done.
  • Let it cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.

2- MILK MIXTURE RECIPE

  • One 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • One 12 oz. can whole evaporated milk
  • 1½ cup heavy cream
  • (If you want to add rum, you can add ½ cup light rum, or add 1 tsp of coconut extract,
    if you like cinnamon add 1 tsp of cinnamon)
  • Whisk all of these ingredients together in a medium bowl, and add ¾ mixture to bottom of the empty and cleaned out 9-inch square baking pan.
  • Carefully put the cake bake into the pan and slowly add the rest of the mixture over the cake, allowing it to settle in.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3- DULCE DE LECHE

If you want to short-cut this part, you can buy a good dulce de leche at your favorite Latin market, or in the latin section of your grocery store. You can also spice this up to your liking by adding whole spice pods or seeds.

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
  • (You can also add a cinnamon stick to this part, or get real fancy and experiment with other whole spice combinations. Did someone say a green cardamom pod?)
  • In a large heavy pot, add all ingredients and stir while bringing to a boil until all of the sugar is dissolved.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer, still stirring somewhat frequently until it’s reduced in half, to 2 cups, and looks like a warm caramel, takes about 40-45 minutes. 
  • Toss out the cinnamon stick (or other spice) and let the mixture come to room temperature. 
  • Pour the mixture into a blender, food processor or if you have an immersion blender, blend the mixture until its smooth. 
  • Skim off any foam, and transfer to a pitcher or large measuring cup and you can either drizzle it right over the cake, or refrigerate it (up to 3 days) and warm it up very gently over low heat until its loosened and drizzle when ready!

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