Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

Maybe your reaction to “Tres Leches Cake” on a Mexican menu has been like mine - indifference.  Since I don’t speak Spanish - I just ignored it.  I’ve been wanting to explore what all the fuss is about when it comes to this cake - which interpreted means “Three Milks Cake”.  It’s really not all that foreign.

I understand (after reading & searching) that this cake is likely the most popular cake sold throughout Mexico.  You can tell how out-of-touch I am with Mexican cuisine because I never really imagined Mexico having many bakeries (as I know them anyhow).  

Being a Gringo, my idea of a Mexican dessert is churros or flan - but I’ve never tried Tres Leches Cake before.  Lately I’ve been exploring some Tex/Mex recipes, and I decided to give it a whirl.

This isn’t a show-stopping cake, but you’ll love the experience more than the appearance.  It’s simply a sponge cake, soaked in a mixture of three different milk products.  These three milks (sweetened condensed, evaporated, and whole milk) combine to create just the right sweetness and density.  Very moist, but not mushy.  

Soaking cake in liquid is not a new concept.  Many countries have cakes such as Rum Cake that are soaked in a simple syrup to moisten them.  Our family favorite, using this type of technique, is Jinnie’s Luscious Lemon Cake (link is HERE).

Most versions of Tres Leches Cake are topped with a good layer of lightly sweetened whipped cream.  In my opinion, it’s a little boring with just cream.  You’ll see it most often topped with a cherry, but I tried two other toppings - and they were both delicious (and interesting)

One was with a drizzle of liquified raspberry jam & a few fresh raspberries.  The other was dusted with unsweetened cocoa powder, topping that off with a slice of star fruit.  Star fruit (Carambola) is not really Mexican - as it originates in the Indian & Asian continents - but it sure looks pretty.  The larger fruit is more sweet, the smaller more tart.  Look for it in the gourmet area of the produce department.  

This cake is a TRUE sponge cake - it literally bounces back when pressed with your fingers.  That’s what you need for all that delicious, sweet milk to soak in.  You might agree that this is a nice change of pace from super-sweet American desserts.

For the complete recipe, with step-by-step photos - go to:

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