Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tres Leches Cake

There is a lovely woman who works in the accounting department in my office who makes the most delectable Tres Leches Cake. Every Cinco de Mayo, she brings in this special treat and all is right with the world. I have to admit, the first time I saw that cake looking like a wet sponge, I was a little skeptical. I asked a co-worker what was wrong with the cake and he looked at me like I was crazy. He explained to me that it was Tres Leches Cake and how it was made. Based on his vivid description of a spongy cake absorbing three types of milk, I tried a piece. I had never had anything like it and I was hooked.

So, after putting off trying to make this cake for the past few years, I finally dove in last weekend in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo. I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe and I added a few touches that involved some liquor love and Dulce de Leche. My parents brought back Mama Lucia CafĂ© Liquor from Mexico a while back and this seemed like a perfect excuse to use it. I also picked up some Dulce de Leche at the Southport Grocery in Chicago a few weeks ago and smeared a thin layer of it on the surface of the cake before topping it with whipped cream! Ay, Dios mio! To say I was in a state of euphoric ecstasy when I took my first taste would be an understatement. Even if you don’t add the liquor or Dulce de Leche, you will not be disappointed. Go forth, bake and enjoy! AJ

Recipe adapted from the Pioneer Woman Cooks


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Mama Lucia Cafe Liquor
1/3 cup milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy Cream
Dulce de Leche

1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoon sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk, vanilla and cafe liquor. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. When all of the liquid is absorbed, apply a thin layer of dulce de leche over the surface being careful not to rip the cake.

To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla until thick and spreadable.

Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with dulce de leche piped on.

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