I first tried this cake about three years ago, when I was enjoying some vacation time mixed with work I came to do in the United States. By then I was still working in a full-time job in Lisbon which required me to travel many times. It was on one of those times when I had a project to try out in Florida that I planned to come during Summer and spend three months getting to know better this part of the world.
Three is an interesting number. Three months in Florida. I met personally my future husband and once we had lunch in one Mexican restaurant in Baldwin Park, Orlando, and I tried the Tres Leches Cake (Three Milk Cake). And now, three years from then, there are three of us.
What intrigued me about this cake was the moist satin cream it has all over it and the exquisitely spongy cake texture. I almost couldn’t believe that was a cake, because there wasn’t any part of it dry. So, I was totally amazed and delighted.
No wonder I had to do my own. I saw many recipes online, but after a few experiments this is how I like my Tres Leches Cake. I use spiced rum in the syrup and I think this little hint takes it to the next level but this can be optional if you prefer to skip the alcohol.
Many recipes call for cherries as a topping complement, others add nuts or even dulce de leche turning it into a Cuatro Leches Cake. I opted to just sprinkle the top with cocoa powder and I like the contrast it made with the sweetened syrup.
As a dessert cake it’s a wonderful option to serve with coffee. We have a simple stovetop espresso maker and we love how easily and quick we can have a rich authentic espresso at home. This cake is the perfect combination to end a meal. Or to go with a coffee snack. Or to enjoy anytime.
Three is a great number. Just follow the three steps to make the cake. One, two, three and you’ll have it. Lucky number this three, awesome cake, lucky me.
Preparation time: 40 minutes Cook time: 35-40 minutes Serves 12
For the cake:
1 cup sugar, divided 5 eggs, separated 1/3 cup milk (I use whole milk) 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
For the 3 milks syrup: 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk 1 can (13 oz) evaporated milk 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp spiced rum
For the topping: 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 2 tbsp sugar 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract cocoa powder for decoration
Cake: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 13×9 baking pan with butter and flour. Set aside. Separate the eggs. In a large bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg yolks with 3/4 of sugar, until it gets creamy and pale yellow (approximately 5 minutes). Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix together. In another bowl combine the flour and baking powder and stir to the egg mixture. Set aside. In another bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) and continue beating until the eggs are firm and glossy, but not dry. Gently fold the egg white mix into the previous egg yolk mixture and pour in the baking dish. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes (check with a toothpick in the center until it comes clean). Take out of the oven and let it cool completely. Turn the cake upside down in a baking dish or a rimmed baking sheet (It will catch the syrup when it overflows). Pierce the cake thoroughly with a fork.
Prepare the syrup: Whisk the condensed milk, evaporated milk, whipping cream, vanilla extract and rum in a large bowl until well mixed. Slowly pour this mix all over the top of the cake, allowing to absorb the mixture before pouring more. Don’t worry with the liquid getting down on the pan, the cake will absorb it all in some minutes. Once the milk syrup is all absorbed, turn the cake in the final serving plate (I use the glass baking dish). Turning the cake again into the original position allow the syrup that was at the bottom to get totally combined into the cake. Refrigerate.
At last, prepare the topping: In a mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Spread the whipping cream over the top of the cake, using a spatula. Sprinkle cocoa powder on top. Cut into squares and serve immediately.