Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pastel de Tres Leches or Tres Leches Cake (Halal)

In Spanish, tres means three, leches means milks. Tres leches is a cake moistened with three types of milk.

This is a common party cake in my home state of Texas, especially among Mexican-American families. I read that the origins of this cake are that it is based on traditional Latin American syrup soaked sponge cakes, but the tres leches concept was created by a canned milk company to promote their products during the 1950s. Versions of it exist all over Latin America, and some include coconut milk or alcohol. My recipe is a simple Tex-Mex version, and the tres leches or three types of milks are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and half-and-half.

To begin, you need to bake a yellow cake from a box mix. I use Betty Crocker's Supermoist Yellow cake. Bake this according to the instructions on the box in a 9 by 13 inch glass baking pan, but add a dash of alcohol free vanilla. I use Frontier brand, and I find that it is very delicious. Allow the cake to cool completely for several hours. Then, using a fork, poke holes all over the cake.

Take note of the holes poked in the cake. Feeling stabby?

For the leches, mix together:
3 tbs plain sugar
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) cinnamon
few drops of alcohol free vanilla
1 14 oz can of evaporated milk (I use Carnation)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (I use Eagle)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
(or use 2 cups half and half, which is half cream and half milk)

Ladle this milk mixture over your sponge, ensuring that you moisten all parts of the cake. Cover cake and allow to absorb the milks overnight in the refrigerator.

The whipped cream frosting topping:
2 cups organic* heavy whipping cream
4 tbs powdered sugar
few drops alcohol free vanilla
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 tbs chopped pecans

Blend ingredients and using an electric beater, beat your whipping cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla until it forms stiff peaks. Spread this on top of your milk-soaked sponge. Garnish with the coconut and nuts. You can experiment with garnishes of fruit, cajeta, caramel, chocolate shavings, or whatever suits you.

I wish I had a picture of the finished product, but on the day I was taking these demo pics, my kids came and smashed the cake with the cake server before I had a chance to snap a picture. Mine is a very home-made, non-fancy look, though. The end result is a sweet, super moist but not soggy, delicious cake!

*I use regular heavy whipping cream in the tres leches mixture but I go for a superior tasting organic heavy whipping cream for the whipped cream frosting to achieve the best taste. Organic cream is more expensive.