The "Real" Tres Leches Cake


The cake:
1 cup AP Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons real Mexican vanilla
1/3 cup milk
The Leche:
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
1 8-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup good quality coconut milk (not sweetened)
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons dark rum such as Flor de Caña to taste
1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla
Meringue Topping:
2 large egg whites
2/3 C sugar
1/4 C water
A pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla/rum or a splash of both


Prepare the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Separate eggs. Beat the yolks, gradually adding 3/4 C sugar until pale and frothy. Stir in milk and vanilla. and gently combine with flour mixture.
Beat whites until soft peaks, then slowly add the remaining 1/4 C sugar until stiff peaks (French meringue, do not over beat!)
Fold the whites gently into the rest of the batter.
Pour into prepared pan and tap to even the surface. Bake ~30 min until set.
Prepare the Leche:
Whisk together all of the above ingredients for the leche.
Assemble the cake:
Pierce the surface of the cooled cake with a fork and pour the leche over the cake, allowing it to absorb the liquid. You may have to wait up to 30 min for the cake to take all of the liquid. If it sits overnight in the fridge, even better!
Prepare the topping:
Although the whipped cream topping is tasty, I encourage you to try a meringue at least once for both texture and aesthetic. I recommend using an Italian meringue here since the stability is helpful in serving the cake.
Boil the water and sugar together until it reaches soft ball stage, 235-240 F.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, add vanilla/rum.
Slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites, beating constantly.
Beat until the bowl is cool and the meringue is glossy. Spread or pipe in a design onto the cool cake. I like to run a torch over the meringue for a few seconds to give it nice golden peaks.
Decorate with slices of mango, or as in our case, flambéed bananas.

About Although hesitant to include this ubiquitous Latin dessert, I concluded one more authentic, quality Tres Leches recipe on a global network swarming with the culinary equivalent of blasphemy wouldn't be such a bad idea. Since the dessert did originate in Nicaragua it makes sense to feature it here, represented by it's northern neighbor. Characterized by ample use of coconut and renowned for its rum, Honduran Tres Leches puts a complex and flavorful spin on the Mexican version that is most widely known throughout the States.




Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 9:23pm


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