Let them eat…Tres Leches?

My family and I have been in Illinois for a little over two months and have already begun trading Sunday dinner duties with a family down the road. We actually met through our children but found we get along great.

I told me nearly teenage daughter, “You and your friend need to make sure you communicate well and work through your differences. Dad and I really like their family so it will be really awkward for you come holidays if you two end your friendship.” This conversation occurred after her friend had spent the night and a particularly vicious game of Minecraft lasted nearly all night and into the next morning.

So, anyway, we trade Sunday dinner duties. They cook and host one week and we cook and host the next. It is a fantastic way to wrap up the weekend. Last week I cooked and made Tres Leches Cake for dessert. It was an instant hit.

For those of you that don’t know, tres leches is a rich sponge cake soaked in a sauce made of three different milks and topped with whipped cream. It’s a fairly common dessert in Mexico, where my husband’s family (and our new friends) hail from. A very small slice should satisfy even your worst sweet cravings, though it is really hard to stop at just a small slice. I recommend pairing it with a nice dark coffee.

This week they cooked the most magnificent molè (my apologies for any typos, I am in a food coma) and I offered to bring the cake. This time I doubled the recipe so everyone could have some left overs.


Tres Leches Cake



4 large eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk, 2% preferred


1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

½ cups heavy cream

Whipped Cream:

1 cup cold heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoon powdered sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350⁰F.
  • Line a deep 10” baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly coat the pan and parchment with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a stand mixer or large bowl whip the egg whites until medium soft peaks form, using the whisk attachment. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to whip the eggs until the mixture resembles thick custard. Add the yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the orange zest and vanilla while continuing to mix.  Add the flour and milk mixture alternating, ½ cup flour, ¼ cup milk, repeat until both are thoroughly combined.
  • Carefully pour the batter evenly into prepared baking dish, smoothing the top with a spatula if needed.
  • Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • While the cake is baking, stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Let the cake cook for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a cookie sheet over the pan and invert the cake onto the cookie sheet. Remove the parchment paper. Place the backing dish back over the cake and invert the cake back into the baking dish.
  • Poke holes in the top of the cake with a skewer, I found a chopstick works great for this step. Carefully and slowly pour 2/3 of the sauce mixture over the cake.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour, then pour the rest of the sauce over the cake. This helps the sauce distribute evenly through the cake instead of just pooling near the bottom. Refrigerate for at least 2 more hours so sauce will thicken.
  • Just before serving make the whipped cream. Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a very clean stand mixer and whisk on medium until soft peaks form.
  • Warm the bottom the baking dish by dipping it in hot water. Invert the cake onto a pretty serving platter, spoon the whipped cream over cake and serve.

Recipe adapted from Marcela Valladolid

Let me know what you think of my #tresleches

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