Tres Leches Cake

Tres leches translates into “three milks”, and that’s what makes this nondescript cake so delicious. The three milks are heavy cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk, and this mixture is poured over the light, airy cake that then soaks up the milks overnight. Conceptually, this cake is similar to a tiramisu, where a cake is left to soak up a liquid. The reason why this cake doesn’t get soggy is because it uses a recipe very similar to a sponge cake, which makes use of whipped egg whites.
Sad to say, my own version didn’t turn out quite so airy. I don’t have an electric mixer, and beating egg whites to a soft peak by hand is not easy. (Which reminds me of this mise en place relay race in Top Chef Just Desserts…) Despite the slightly gummy texture, it still tasted good. And I’m going to have to attribute that to the liberal amounts of rum I used. The recipe I used didn’t actually include rum in it, but the tres leches cake that inspired me to make it was from a restaurant called Amor Cubano and I had detected rum in it.

Also, my cake is frosting-less. I figured all that moisture from the milks would be enough to give it good moisture. I did NOT want to whip cream after having to whip egg whites.

Tres Leches Cake
Makes one 9-inch round cake
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup clear rum

Cream topping:

  • 1/2 14-ounce can fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1/2 14-ounce can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half (feel free to use full fat heavy cream for this and non-fat free for everything else)

Directions

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 inch round pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 25 minutes.

To make the cream topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high speed.

Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, pour the cream mixture over it. Let sit and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.