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Tres Leche

by Anne Watcher on Monday March 10th, 2008 at 10:52pm

I tried a dessert today that brought bake memories of home and my grandma. I had seen "Tres Leche" advertised on different menus and know enough Spanish to realize milk was involved. Today while in Alajuela we had to wait for some pictures to be printed so went to our little cafe to have a coffee and I pointed to a desert in the display cabinet that looked interesting. First bite it reminded of when Grandma would pour milk over our cake because she said it was a little stale or at home when we would mush up our chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and then rip up the icing and add it like chunks of fudge!! SO GOOD!! The waitress told me it was "Tres Leche".

Basically it is a white cake that is soaked with three milk products: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream. It can be topped with a variety of things like whipped cream, fruit, chocolate mouse, or meringue. Mine had whipped cream and peaches. It is amazing that it really isn't soggy with all the liquid added to it, perhaps because a good Tres Leche uses a light cake with many air bubbles. It is common throughout Latin America with different areas adding their own personal twist. For me it brought back fond memories of home and childhood.

Here's a recipe for all who would like to try:


For the cake:

Vegetable oil

6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces sugar

5 whole eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup half-and-half

For the topping:

2 cups heavy cream

8 ounces sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:

Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.


Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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