Ever since I can remember, there has always been one dessert I’ve begged my aunt Ani to make: her signature tres leches cake recipe. She is an amazing baker and cake decorator, but her tres leches are hands-down the best. Aside from some additions I’ve made to the soaking liquid, this recipe is all her, and I’m so excited to share it with you.
I was born in Venezuela and though many people think Tres Leches is from Mexico or Nicaragua, the origins of the tres leches are a Latin American mystery. So for our purposes and my own pride, the tres leches is Venezuelan, okay? Okay!
This is my one piece of advice with the tres leches: it is all about the soaking liquid and more is more! The cake should be drenched in the liquid, so if you find yourself wondering whether it’s enough, make a little more and pour it over.
This cake is not for kids. My soaking liquid has rum in it (ahem Venezuelan rum) and coffee! Feel free to replace the quantities of these for more milk, but if you can stick to the recipe you’ll be happy you did. Guys, I am a very humble cook I swear.
- 4 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk,
- 1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup rum
- ¼ cup espresso (or cold brew concentrate)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ tsp cream of tartas
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Whisk flour, baking powder, salt in a small bowl. Sift through a fine-mesh colander onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until soft peaks forms, the slowly add the sugar, then add egg yolks one at a time.
- Add the milk, vanilla, and then the sifted flour.
- Grease well with butter a 9-inch springform pan
- Pour the batter into the greased pan and place in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a long toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Using a blender, combine all the ingredients for the soaking liquid until fully incorporated. Taste and adjust anything at this point.
- Using a toothpick or a skewer, poke holes on top of the cake, about 1 hole every inch, until you cover the whole top of the cake with holes, making sure the skewer hits the bottom of the pan. Pour over the cake slowly 1 cup at a time, waiting for the liquid to be absorbed as you add it until it is all completely absorbed and continuing to the next cup. It will take some time, be patient, this is the key to the tres leches.
- Place the soaked cake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. When you are ready to eat, open the springform onto a rimmed plate, or not and get messy like we did for this photoshoot, food is for playing in my house!
Meringue (make this the day you are ready to enjoy your tres leches!):
- Using a metal stem thermometer, bring sugar and ½ cup of water to a boil until it reaches 250F.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. As the mixer is one start incorporating the hot sugar water, VERY slowly. After it's fully incorporated, add the cream of tartar and the salt. Keep the mixer at high speed until the peaks are stiff, this will take approximately 5 minutes.
- Pour the meringue over the cake and use the clouds as inspiration to shape the meringue-like a pillowy dream over your cake. Enjoy!
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