Friday, January 16, 2015

Tres Leches Cake

by Sheila Connolly

Yup, I’m still mining Ina Garten’s lovely cookbook Make It Ahead. I promise I’ll stop soon and start bombarding you with Irish pub recipes, which are getting better all the time.

Growing up, I was never exposed to the whole tres leches thing. I’ve read about it and I knew vaguely that it involved both evaporated milk and condensed milk (a distinction of which I was ignorant for most of my life). But since I happened to have both in my pantry, I decided, why not try this? Besides, I was curious to see how nearly four cups of liquid somehow vanished into a single layer of cake. (Spoiler alert: it did!)

Tres Leches Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/4 tsp kosher salt
3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 cup plus 5 Tblsp granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13x2 inch baking pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and set aside.

Place the eggs, 1 cup sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle blade and beat on medium-high speed for 10 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. (Note: I don’t usually buy extra-large eggs. I went all out and bought a half-carton of organic, locally raised eggs from super-happy chickens who apparently spend much of their time lolling about on porches.)

Reduce the speed to low and gradually add half the flour mixture, then the milk, and then the rest of the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean (if you have one)

While you’re waiting for the cake to cool, in a 4-cup measuring cup whisk together the heavy cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, almond extract, and vanilla seeds (if you have them, which I did).

Those seeds are tiny!

Using a skewer, poke holes all over the cooled cake and slowly pour the cream mixture over it, letting each addition be absorbed (don=t just dump the whole thing!).

Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (overnight is fine).

Fruit topping:

8 cups fresh fruit of your choice

The original recipe suggested fresh summer berries. Uh, it’s January? I still had cranberries left over, and some frozen raspberries, so I combined them. I cooked them briefly with sugar and mushed them to break up the cranberries. If you have an issue with raspberry seeds between your teeth, you might was to strain this mixture or run it through a food mill. I think the cranberries worked well, because the cake is fairly sweet, and the cranberries added a nice contrasting tartness.

Cut the cake into squares, place on dessert plates, and spoon fruit over each piece. 

Counting the days now until the release of An Early Wake (I received my first copy, hot off the press, only yesterday).


  1. What a clever idea to use the cranberries to cut the sweetness.
    The picture looks really tempting with the cake sitting on top on the lovely red fruit mixture.

  2. Libby, since I had the cranberries handy, I made the sauce before I tasted the cake, but you're right--it was a good contrast and cut the sweetness. And pretty as well!

  3. Very interesting, Sheila. I also have that cookbook, but had never heard of tres leches cakes. What does it taste like? Or is that a silly question?



    1. The cake is very nice without any additions--it's sweet and light and crumbly, and ages well. I'd consider making it on its own. When you add the liquid, you get an almost puddingy texture, and the liquid adds sweetness. (I think a lot of tres leches recipes come out more caramelish, if that makes sense--isn't there an ice cream?) I think you could tinker with the recipe (sorry, Ina) and try different options. Wonder what chocolate sauce would do...

  4. Can't wait for #3 in the series to be in my hands :-)

  5. It's amazing that all that milk is absorbed. I had no idea that it's refrigerated first. Interesting. It looks wonderful!

  6. 2/4 tsp kosher salt... isn't that 1/2 tsp?

    1. Oops, you're right. At least I didn't say 2-4 tsp!

  7. Sounds like an interesting book. I would love to try it. I don't read many books with supernatural elements so this would be different.
    thanks for the chance

    1. think I ended up commenting in the wrong post.
      The Mouse has a mind of its own sometimes.