I had my first taste of Tres Leches cake during a party hosted by my friend. I could not believe the taste of this unique dessert as it brought back memories of different desserts from Indian, European, and Italian cuisines. A unique combination of creaminess, velvety cake with an airy texture, and a topping of whipped cream instantly appealed to my sweet tooth and I had multiple servings. My friend had bought this cake at a Mexican bakery in Charlotte, which is a favorite place for many Latin American communities. The recipe for Tes Leches cake is very simple and even a novice can make this dessert.
What is Tres Leches Cake?
The term “Tres Leches” has origins in Spanish and refers to “three milks” that are used in the cake. The name of the cake in Spanish is “pastel de tres leches” or “torta de tres leches”. Tres Leches is made with a base layer of light sponge cake that is perforated after baking and then steeped in a succession of three milks – evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream or whole milk. The end result of this soaking is a wonderful cake with a rich and moist density that gives it a luxurious taste.
I have customized the traditional recipe with a topping of fruits like strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and soaked nuts like cashews and almonds. The tartness of berries gives a welcome break to the sweet and creamy taste of this cake.
You can take liberties with this dessert by adding various types of toppings like caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, fruit compotes or different types of roasted or soaked nuts to add to the flavor and textures.
I have adopted a shortcut by not baking the sponge cake from scratch. This saves considerable time and effort while the quality of the end product is still as good as using a cake baked from scratch. You can use a pound cake, sponge cake or angel cake as long as it is fresh and soft.
Tres Leches Cake (fruits and nuts)
Tres leches cake ( translated as “'three-milk cake”), is a sponge cake—soaked in three kinds of milk and layered with different toppings like fruits and nuts. Tres leches is a very light cake that is best served chilled.
3 Types of milks
Sugar and toppings
Whip the heavy cream
- Divide the heavy cream into 2 equal parts.
- Using half of the quantity, Whip the cream until you get stiff peaks
- Mix the sugar and beat it again
- Store the whipped cream in the refrigerator until ready to use
Prepare the 3-milk mixture
Mix the evaporated milk, condensed milk, & half of the prescribed heavy cream or whole milk to create a uniform mixture
Assemble the Cake
- Take a glass baking dish - approx 8 inches X 8 inches X 3 inches or of similar dimensions
- Lay the cake as a foundation layer - almost 1.5 inch thick. The cake should form a compact layer and it is ok if you assemble smaller pieces together so as to cover the entire dish uniformly
- Perforate the cake with a fork or knife
- Pour the mixture of 3 kinds of milk uniformly across the cake
- Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake to form a uniform layer
- Decorate the fruits and nuts
- Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve
- When ready to serve, cut the cake into desired portions and serve in a dessert bowl.
- Top the cake with caramel or chocolate sauces or fruit compotes