Baking · Cake · Desserts

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake is named exactly what it is. Three milk cake. I love cultures that just call things what they are. Not like in America where we park in the driveway. But I digress. I saw tres leches on many menus when I was in Costa Rica a few years ago as it is a traditional Latin American dessert. It’s a pretty simple idea that when done right is pure evil. Take a light sponge cake and soak it in a mixture of cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. The combination of those milks plus a couple of my own special ingredients took a basic cake mix and made it phenomenal. Anyone can make this. It is insanely easy.
I added the innards of a  vanilla bean to my cake batter because, well…I just think everything is better with vanilla bean in it. It would still be delicious with just the extract though. The big change I made to my version of this cake was the addition of a little bit of dark rum. Just a hint. Nobody is going to get tipsy off this cake. But it adds an extra kick to the decadent creamy light but moist cake. Seriously the texture of this cake is out of this world. See the little hit of liquid where the cake meets the plate? That’s money baby. Pure awesomeness.

Milky Perfection

As a side note though, following the same recipe for the cake, but soaking it in a mixture of rum or brandy, and sugar, it is called pastel borracho (drunken cake)…which I’m sure would be amazing. (hic-up!)

Tres Leches

I also decided to put just a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of mine. Probably ruined the authenticity of the dish, but it seemed like a natural companion to all that creamy goodness. And since I can’t roll my r’s, I’m not too worried about being truly 100% authentic.

Cinnamon Sprinkle

My plate about 10 seconds after serving myself a piece. Maybe less than that. It’s very easy to eat tres leches quickly (like a shark…no chewing required) because it’s so moist you don’t even really need to use your teeth. Enjoy!

All gone!

1 box white or vanilla cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped
4 eggs
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 cup whole milk or evaporated milk
1 cup whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons dark rum

  1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease and flour or spray bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan.
  2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.
  3. Bake 29 to 35 minutes or until edges are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes. Poke top of hot cake every 1/4 inch with a skewer wiping occasionally to reduce sticking. Really go at it. Hole up that entire cake.  You want lots of places for the milk to get in.
  4. In large bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, whole milk, whipping cream and rum. Carefully pour evenly over top of cake. S.L.O.W.L.Y. pour the milks. Do not rush this step! Pause, wait for it to seep in a little, then pour some more. Cover; refrigerate about 1 hour or until mixture is absorbed into cake. Top with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. (Whip until fluffy 1 cup heavy whipping cream + 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract) Sprinkle with cinnamon (if desired)

4 thoughts on “Tres Leches Cake

    1. It is amazing. I don’t know why I’ve never made Tres Leches before. For my first attempt, I wanted to be sure it was pretty much no-fail. Which this was. Fantastic!

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