Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

'Tres leches cake' or 'Three milk cake' is a cake soaked in three kinds of milk - Evaporated milk, Condensed milk and Whole milk. This moist cake is so easy yet so impressive! Perfect for big crowds and almost always a stunner! 

When I first started hunting for recipes of this cake, I was worried the final product would be too heavy or too sweet. I was also a little apprehensive as it sounded too easy to be true. But when I finally did decide to give it a go, I was in love all over again! :) It was perfectly moist, perfectly sweet just .....PERFECTLY PERFECT!

Most of the desserts I cook for my parties at home are almost always just semi-homemade. I do not have the time or energy to go all traditional and super precise after I spend so much time cooking the main meal. This recipe too starts with a box cake mix. I generally use the classic white cake mix for this recipe. I find it much more airy and light compared to the other cake mixes. 

For the topping, I whip the cream at home as I the try to keep the sugar content in it quite low. This way it perfectly balances the sweetness in the cake. But if you think you don't have time for that, some cool whip or ready made whipped cream spray cans work just fine. 
Most of the tres leches cakes are topped with a maraschino cherry. They look the cutest, but I just do not like the taste. It spoils the dessert for me as you expect it to be sweet and it turns out to be weirdly synthetic. So I generally top my cake with some freshly cut strawberries or blueberries or raspberries just before serving. You could also toast some nuts or some coconut and sprinkle it on top of the cake. Just let yourself go crazy with the toppings here.

So without further delay, let us get to the recipe.

Level: Easy
Serves: 10 - 12 people

For the base:
1 classic white box cake mix
1/4 cup of whole milk (I use the 2% I usually have on hand)
1 14 oz can of condensed milk
1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
For the frosting:
1.5 cups whipping cream
4 tblsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Cocoa for sprinkling
Strawberries to decorate

Step 1 - Bake the cake as per the package instructions. Bake it in the same pan in which you plan to serve the dessert. Your pan should have higher sides as you will have to pour the milk mixture into the cake once it bakes and you do not want the milk to over flow from the top. Once your cake is baked, leave it for cool for 5 mins.

Step 2 - As the cake is cooling, let us get our milk mixture ready. Mix the milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk in a bowl. Stir well to make sure the condensed milk does not settle at the bottom. It is that simple. Keep aside.

Step 3 - After you have let the cake cool for 5 mins from Step 1, take a knife or fork and slowly poke the entire cake well all the way to the bottom. You might think you are destroying the cake, but remember the places this cake does not get poked, does not get the liquid goodness we will be pouring into it. So don't be too gentle!

Step 4 - When you are done piercing holes and the cake is still warm, pour the milk mixture all over the cake. (don't forget to stir the milk a little before you start pouring). At this point you will realize why I was stressing on a pan with a little high sides. The liquid will first pool on top and you might think it is a little too much. But the warm cake will soak up all the liquid in a matter of mins. Now let the soaked cake cool down completely. 

Step 5 - Let us work on the frosting now. In a large clean bowl add the whipping cream and vanilla essence. Start whisking this cream mixture. When the cream starts frothing, slowly add the powdered sugar one tsp at a time, continuously whisking. Beat the cream till it forms stiff peaks. i.e. when you take the beaters out, the cream stuck on your beater should hold shape. These are called stiff peaks.

Step 6 - Smear the ready whipped cream with a butter knife or a spatula all over the cooled soaked cake from Step 4. Try to spread it around as evenly as possible covering the entire top of your cake. 

We are done!

Just before serving, I cut out a piece and placed it on my serving plate. I sprinkled the top with some cocoa powder and I placed a beautiful red strawberry beside it. Doesn't it look pretty? I sure think it does!

Hope you enjoy this juicy goodness as much as my family and friends do!

If you are having a tough time finding the classic white box cake mix, go ahead and use the yellow cake mix. The cake may be a a little denser, but it doesn't compromise the taste.

If you think you are not up for whipping the cream yourself, go ahead and use some cool whip or whipped cream spray can to top off the cake.


  1. iam a tres leches fan! this is one of the bestest looking tres leches! kudos!

    1. Thanks a lot. Have been trying to improve my presentations and photography skills...:)

  2. my mouth is watering!! I wish you lived locally!!!

  3. one of my all time fav cakes to eat as well as to bake - and as you said its so easy to make too.
    I love the way you write :)

  4. The tres-leches looks so pretty! I've been keeping away from this cake because it always seemed so complex, your recipe seems simple and quick. Which brand of boxed mix do you recommend? I am planning to take some with me to India for some relatives who are new baking enthusiasts.

    1. I am not too picky with the brand. I use any classic white cake mix. But I would like to add that if you end up buying a yellow cake mix, try and find the one which says, pudding already added in the mix. Leads to softer yellow cakes.

    2. Thanks for the great tip!

  5. Wow!!! Shalmali this is amazing. I am going to try this this for Christmas, when Payu-Kalpita are here. Will let you know how it turns out. Great job on your lovely receipes.


    1. Thanks Priya Vahini. Do let me know how you all like it..:)

  6. Tried this for my husband's birthday and the verdict was "absolutely delicious". Thank you.Priya

  7. hey just saw this recipe- looks real good. I liked the idea of cool whip instead. will try it soon. thanks!!

  8. hey just saw this recipe- looks real good. I liked the idea of the cool whip intsead. Thanks- will try it for sure!

  9. hey just saw this recipe- looks real good. I liked the idea of cool whip instead. will try it soon. thanks!!