Tasty Thursday: Tres Leches Cake!

Christina's family is from Puerto Rico and as such, she was raised eating delicious comida criolla (AKA Puerto Rican food).  One of her favorite desserts is Tres Leches (Three Milks) cake; even though it is not necessarily of Puerto Rican origin, it is still a popular dessert option at island restaurants.

Recently, when she was in Puerto Rico for her grandmother's funeral, Christina had a delicious version at a local bakery in Orocovis. She came home with it on her mind and decided sharing her recipe for it would be a great idea for one of our Tasty Thursday slots!

(Photo courtesy of

Tres Leches gets its name from the three different milks - sweetened condensed, evaporated, and whole - which gives it its richness and moistness.  It can be a sweet cake, traditionally made with a large quantity of sugar and a meringue topping but this version uses much less sugar and fresh whipped cream instead, cutting back on calories and preparation time.  Most recipes call for a light rum added to the milk syrup, which adds a nice adult flavor, although it can also be eliminated without sacrificing the taste.  And unlike other cakes, this cake tastes better the next day, after it has set completely.

Here is the recipe Christina makes whenever she craves is and annually for the multicultural festival at a local elementary school her children attend.  It comes from one of her favorite cookbooks called "Latin American Cooking Across the USA" by Himilce Novas and Rosemary Silva.  Enjoy!

Happy baking!
Christina & Meghan

Tres Leches Cake

For the cake:
 1 1/2 cups cake flour1 teaspoon baking powder1 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened5 large eggs1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract1/3 cup milk

For the milk syrup:
1 cup sweetened condensed milk1 cup evaporated milk1 cup whole milk1 tablespoon light rum or your favorite liqueur (optional)
For the whipped-cream topping:
1 cup heavy cream1 teaspoon granulated sugar1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1.  Make the cake batter: sift together the cake flour and baking powder.  Cream the sugar and the butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until well blended.  Add the eggs and the vanilla extract, and beat until foamy.  With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, until the batter is smooth.

2.  Pour the cake batter into a lightly greased 7 x 11 x 2-inch cake pan or baking dish, and bake on the middle rack in a preheated 350 degrees Farenheit oven for 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back when gently pressed.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert it onto a serving platter.  Pierce the cake with a fork in many places and allow it to cook completely.

3.  Next make the syrup: Whisk all the syrup ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well blended.  Pour the syrup evenly over the cake and refrigerate the cake, covering in plastic wrap, for at least 3 hours.

Make the toppings: First chill the cream, a large mixing bowl, and beaters or a whisk in the refrigerator.  Beat the cream in the chilled mixing bowl with an electric mixer or the whisk until it begins to thicken.  Add the sugar and vanilla extract, and continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Cover the top and side of the cake with the whipped cream topping, using a spatula or knife.  Cut the cake and serve.  You may also cut the cake first, and then garnish with whipped cream only those portions you plan to serve.

Serves 10 to 12

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