Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tres Leches, Tres Thumbs Up

I was first introduced to tres leches cake on a family trip to Costa Rica in 2000. It is -- without a doubt -- the moistest (is that a word?) cake you will ever eat. The name, tres leches, comes from the three different milks that make up this decadent dessert: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. After the first bite I knew this was something I had to bring from Costa Rica to California. It took a few tries, dozens of recipes, and just over a decade to find the perfect tres leches cake. Lucky for you, I'm a believer in equal opportunity deliciousness. I made the cake pictured here for my gorgeous niece's six-month birthday celebration. (I know, who celebrates their six-month birthday? Indians. We love any excuse to hang out and stuff our faces.) The cake was such a hit that it was devoured in moments leaving the store bought cake was largely untouched. En-joy, en-joy (said in an Indian accent with accompanying head bob).

What You Need:
6 eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Tres Leches:
1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites

Raspberries for garnish

What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9" diameter springform pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, slowly beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat to peak to stiff peaks. While still beating, add yolks one at a time. 

Quickly sift the flour and baking powder and into the eggs, alternating with the milk. Add vanilla and spill into pan. Bake until golden, 25 minutes.

The Tres Leches: 
Using an immersion blender (or regular blender) combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend until blended on high speed.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, use a fork or toothpick to place holes all over the cake -- be generous! Pour the cream mixture over the cake. (You may need to wrap your pan in foil to ensure there is no leakage). Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan -- bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage. Remove from the heat. In a bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks and slowly add sugar/water mixture while beating. Beat until the mixture is cool and glossy.  

Remove the cake from the springform pan and spread the icing over the top. If you don't use it all or there is spillage, don't worry. Garnish with raspberries or fruit of your choice and let the compliments roll in.

P.S. If you're in the mood for a bit more decadence, you can top your cake with a standard whipped cream instead, but I personally prefer this version.