Tres Leches Cake


Do you see this deliciousness that is called tres leches cake?

I made it last week and it was my first time with this recipe.

The first time with this specific dessert.

Tres Leches is Spanish for Three Milk.

This cake is topped with three types of milk…

whole milk

evaporated milk

and (my FAVORITE!) sweetened condensed milk.

The recipe I used for this version of tres leches cake is from this fabulous cookbook in my collection by Pati Jinich.  She’s an amazing chef who hails from Mexico and who has lived in the U.S. for many decades.  My family is very fond of traditional Mexican fare and I use the recipes from this cookbook often.  We try to make our own food at home instead of eating out a lot.  We know what’s going in our childrens’ mouths when we make the food at home and we don’t know what is really going into the dishes when we eat out.

So, the recipe calls for a marbled cake…vanilla and chocolate.

There were a lot of steps in this recipe, I used quite a few bowls.

But, the end result was worth it.


Before we get to the tres leches part of the recipe, the cake must be made.

Here’s what is needed…

9 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 9×13-inch cake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, 4-5 minutes.
Reduce the speed to medium and gradually add the sugar.
Then, continue to beat until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In yet another bowl ( I told you there were lots of bowls!) whisk the egg yolks until thick.
Whisk in the vanilla.
Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture with a rubber spatula, taking care not to deflate the whites.
Gently fold in the flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time.
Gently, gently, gently…this recipe also gets a little messy with the gentle folding.

In yet another bowl, combine the hot water with the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.
Add half of the cake batter and gently fold in with a rubber spatula until thoroughly mixed.

Spread the vanilla batter in the prepared pan.
Pour the chocolate mixture down the center of the vanilla batter.
With a butter knife, swirl the batters together.

Bake the cake for 22-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.

Here comes the neat part…

Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake so that it will absorb the sauce.

The sauce…here comes the sauce!

In a large bowl combine:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup of whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Stir to blend well.
Gradually pour about two thirds of the sauce over the entire cake.
It may look like there’s too much sauce, but the cake will absorb it all up.

Cover the cake and refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hours.
This cake gets better the longer it sits in the fridge.

Refrigerate the remaining sauce.

When you are ready to serve the cake, spoon the rest of the sauce over the top.
I didn’t use all of the tres leches mixture on the cake and ended up using it in my coffee for the next three days!


There is one more step and that’s the whipped topping.
Whip two cups of heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar.
The topping is not too sweet, which is good, because the cake is sweet enough as it is.
I had a bar of Hershey chocolate that I shaved over the top of the cake.



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