Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tres Leches (Three Milk) Cake

I think that tres leches cake is seriously the best cake in the whole entire world. I recently made a tres leches cake for a neighborhood holiday party and I was shocked at how many people at the party had never heard of or tried this amazing cake.

So, what is tres leches cake? Tres leches means three milk in Spanish for those of you who are linguistically challenged (like me). A tres leches cake is sort of like an angel food cake, but once it is cooled it is pierced all over with a fork and then soaked with three different kinds of milks. But, it isn't soaked with skim milk, 1% milk and 2 % milk like I joked with my neighbor - it is soaked with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, AND heavy whipping cream. Um, yum. Then you let the "milks" absorb into the cake and then after that, the cake is topped with a sweet layer of whipped cream. Who wants some tres leches cake (everyone raises their hands now - unless you are lactose intolerant).

I was introduced to tres leches cake when I was growing up because my mom would make it from time to time (but not often enough). I had never made one before though. While returning from our trip to the British Virgin Islands, we had a layover in Miami. We had dinner at this authentic Cuban restaurant and for dessert we ordered the tres leches cake. Greg had said he had never tried it before, and he fell in love with it. That inspired me to make it for the holiday party - and then since it was pretty much devoured I decided to make it again to serve for dessert with our dinner guests. My friend's 5-year old daughter was saying goodbye to us and she said "thank you again for the yummiest most deliciousest cake in the whole entire world." Adorable. I made the tres leches cake today to have for dessert after dinner tonight at my parents' house - I am also making baked chicken taquitos and corn pudding for my birthday dinner! I think you will also love this cake as much as me and everyone else. Enjoy!

Recipe for Tres Leches (Three Milk) Cake

For the cake
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder
1/4 tsp. of salt
5 eggs (they will be separated into yolks and whites)
1 cup of granulated sugar (divided - you will use 3/4 cup with the yolks and then 1/4 cup for the whites)
1/3 cup of 2% milk or whole milk
1 1/4 tsp. of pure vanilla extract

For the three milks
1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 12.5 ounce can of evaporated milk
1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

For the whipped cream topping
1 2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. of almond extract (optional)

Maraschino cherries, strawberries, or raspberries for topping each piece

For the cake:
Butter a 9 x 13 inch cake pan with unsalted butter or spray it with cooking oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into  largish bowl and mix to incorporate.

Separate the egg yolks and egg whites into two separate medium-sized bowls. Add 3/4 cup of sugar to the egg yolks and mix with an electric hand mixer set on high speed for about 45 - 55 seconds, or until the yolks are pale yellow in color. Add in the milk and the vanilla extract and stir well. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently until it is well combined.

Use the electric hand mixer set on high speed to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (about 35 - 45 seconds). Continue beating the whites on high speed and pour in the 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until the egg whites are stiff (about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes). Add the egg white mixture to the batter and fold in very gently until it is just combined. Pour the batter into the cake pan and spread evenly.

Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes or until you prick it with a toothpick or fork and it comes out clean.

Place cake pan on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

Once cooled, pierce the surface of the cake ALL over with a fork, making sure you don't poke all the way through the cake.

For the three milk mixture
Combine the condensed milk, heavy whipping cram, and evaporated milk into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup and stir until smooth. Pour the mixture all over the cake, making sure to get a lot around the edges of the cake too.

Cover the cake and place in the fridge to allow it to absorb the milk mixture. I think it's best to allow it to absorb for at least 2 hours before adding on the whipped topping and serving.

Before serving, make the whipped topping.

For the whipped topping
Before making the whipped topping, place a metal bowl and the attachment for the electric hand mixer into the freezer to chill for about 15 minutes. Then put the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and almond extract into the chilled metal bowl. Use the chilled beater on the electric hand mixer set on high speed and beat until the cream turns thick, about 1 1/2  to 2 minutes. Use a spoon or spatula to evenly top the cake. Put cake back into the fridge until ready to serve. Then cut into squares and top each piece with a maraschino cherry, strawberry, or raspberry (or whatever else you desire). Enjoy!

Store cake covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Makes approximately 16 - 20 servings, depending on how big you make the slices!

Recipe adapted from: The Pioneer Woman Cooks