If you’d never had or made a Tres Leches Cake, prepare to be amazed! It’s a light yellow cake, soaked in a sweet blend of 3 types of milk (thus the name) and topped with a meringue icing. Tres Leches Cake does take a little bit of time to make but the end result is completely worth it!
Growing up in a Cuban household, Tres Leches Cake was a special treat that I’m happy to share with my children now. Although it didn’t start out as a Cuban dessert, we’ve adopted it and it’s become a favorite of Cuban families!
Tres leches has 3 main components; the actual cake, the 3 milks syrup, and the icing. Because it has multiple parts is the reason that it does take a bit of time to make.
How to make Cuban tres leches:
Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
You’re going to need to separate your eggs. If you have trouble with this, just crack the egg into a small
bowl, then pour the entire egg into the palm of your hand and let the whites run through your fingers while you hold on to the yolk. HERE is a video on a cool way to try the egg separating thing. (Let me know if you try it!)
After cracking the eggs, you’ll add some sugar to the bowl with the egg whites, and some sugar, milk and vanilla to the bowl with the yolks and beat both separately.
Everything then gets added to the dry ingredients, combined, and then poured into a prepared baking dish.
The cake then gets baked and then stabbed all over with toothpicks to allow the liquid to absorb more evenly.
Now here comes the best part! The part that makes a tres leches, a tres (3) leches (milks). Milk pretty much makes anything better with it’s creaminess but combine it with condensed milk and evaporated milk and it makes this cake insanely creamy and moist!
After the milk soaks in, you can frost the cake with the meringue icing. The icing is made with egg whites and sugar. It sounds complicated but it’s actually pretty easy. You just cook the water and sugar together then add it slowly to the egg whites. It makes THE BEST icing ever!!
You can top the cake with cherries if you’d like!
Tres Leches Cake
FOR THE CAKE
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 5 large eggs (separated)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar (divided)
FOR THE 3 MILKS
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
- 1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)
FOR THE MERINGUE ICING
- 4 large egg WHITES
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and Spray a 9 x 13” pan with non-stick spray.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
- Separate the eggs. If you have trouble with this, just crack the egg into a small bowl, then pour the entire egg into the palm of your hand and let the whites run through your fingers while you hold on to the yolk.
- Add the yolks to a medium bowl and add in ¾ cup of sugar. Beat with a hand mixer until they are pale yellow. Add in the milk and vanilla extract and beat one more time just until combined.
- Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir with a spatula until combined.
- Beat the egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar on high speed until you see soft peaks (about 3-4 minutes on high).
- Add the egg white mixture to the batter and stir gently until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
FOR THE 3 MILKS
- Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk and whisk together. Pour over the warm cake and allow to soak in while you make the icing. (I put it in the fridge while I make the icing)
FOR THE MERINGUE
- Add the sugar and water to a saucepan and cook (without stirring) until it reaches the “soft ball stage” or between 234 – 240 degrees.
- While the sugar is coming up to temperature, beat the egg whites on high speed in a either stand mixer with the whisk attachment or use a hand mixer.
- When the sugar reaches the soft-ball stage. Slowly pour it into the egg whites mixture while continuing to beat.
- Add in the vanilla and beat until just combined. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Once the cake is cooled, you can ice the cake by just spreading it evenly over the entire cake. Garnish with maraschino cherries if you'd like! Serve cold.