Tres leches gets its name from the triple mix of spice-infused sweet condensed milk, rich evaporated milk and heavy cream that is poured over the just-baked cake. To maximize the flavor, let the dairy-infused cake stand overnight before serving, then top with the tequila-spiked caramel sauce and whipped cream just before serving.
Tres Leches Cake
For the cake:
- Nonstick cooking spray for greasing
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 can (14 oz./440 g) condensed sweetened milk
- 1 can (12 fl. oz./375 ml) evaporated milk
For the tequila caramel sauce:
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) heavy cream
- 3 Tbs. (45 ml) tequila
- Pinch of kosher salt
For the whipped cream:
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then grease the parchment. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the egg whites and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the whole milk and beginning and ending with the flour, until blended. Raise the speed to high and beat for 30 seconds.
3. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and pierce all over with a fork.
4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, cinnamon stick, and cloves and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and cloves. Transfer the cream to a bowl and whisk in the condensed milk and evaporated milk. Slowly pour the spiced cream mixture over the warm cake, allowing the cream to soak in before pouring more. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
5. Just before serving, make the caramel sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the cream, tequila and salt and whisk to combine. Return the pan to medium heat and cook until the caramel is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.
6. To make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the cream, granulated sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Use right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
7. Spread a layer of the caramel over the cake’s top. Spread the whipped cream over the caramel, drizzle with more caramel, and serve. Serves 16.
Discover a swoon-worthy collection of cakes in the stunning cookbook Favorite Cakes, by the cooks of the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen.