Tres Leches is one of those beautiful things everyone should try at least once in their lifetime (or once a week if you ask my husband). It’s delicate, balanced and flavorful. Every bite of this juicy sponge bursts in your mouth, then melts away leaving rich, buttery flavors of creaminess and sweetness on your palate.
Tres Leches is essentially a pound cake soaked in heaven. That is, condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. It’s a traditional Latin American dessert, but rarely have I found a place in the U.S. that makes it the way I remember it from back home. This family recipe was uncovered by my sister and was written in Spanish when we first got wind of it, so please forgive some of the ‘literal’ translations you might find along the way (e.g., making egg whites look like snow). The good news is, it’s authentic, fool proof, and spectacular every time. It tastes like home and a bit of heaven all in one.
As a side note, while the cake tastes great if eaten the next day, it is at its best when eaten after two days of sitting in the fridge and soaking all that goodness. The three milks become a bit thicker and creamier. In fact, the cake tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge, period. So day 3 or 4? To DIE for!
~ 6 eggs
~ ¼ teaspoon salt
~ 2 cups sugar
~ 1 teaspoon lime zest
~ 2 teaspoons juice of a lime
~ 3 teaspoons baking powder
~ 2 cups flower
~ ½ cup milk
~ 2 cans condensed milk (14 oz.)
~ 2 cans evaporated milk (12 oz.)
~ 2 small cartons of whipping cream
~ A few drops of vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Separate egg yolks from egg whites and keep both in separate bowls. Be careful not to break the yolks during the separation process. With a standing or hand mixer, beat the egg whites with salt until it starts to firm and look like snow (use medium speed). Slowly add the sugar, beating well after each small addition. Add the egg yolks one by one, beating the mixture after each addition. Add the lime zest, lime juice and baking powder. Beat well. Lower the speed on your mixer and add the flour and milk, alternating between the two. Start and end with the flour.
Butter a large baking dish (no smaller than 9” x 12”, but preferably a tad bigger) and pour the batter into the pyrex. Bake for 35 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake) and remove from the oven. Let the cake cool slightly. While it’s still warm, cut the cake into even squares (as small or as little as you want). Keep in mind this is an incredibly sweet dessert, so large squares may be a bit too much to handle for the ordinary palate.
Beat the three milks (whipping cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk) with a few drops of vanilla extract. Pour over the cake and refrigerate overnight. Serve each square on a plate and drizzle spoonfuls of the three milks over the top. The cake tastes best when left in the fridge to soak for at least two days.