A tres leches cake (or milk cake) is a traditional dessert very popular throughout Latin America.

This cake is made from different types of milk : whole milk, evaporated milk, creamed milk or condensed milk. It is usually accompanied by a meringue of egg whites and maraschino cherries and sprinkled with cinnamon powder. The recipe does not contain butter and its texture is spongy.

You can add dulce de leche (cajeta) or alcohol (rum, brandy, anise, etc.) to the mixture. There are various variants: the 4 leches in Chile, in addition to dulce de leche, pasteurized whole milk is added; the 5 leches : a fifth ingredient, coconut milk, is added to the four milks even if it has nothing to do with cow’s milk derivatives; the 6 leches : incorporates meringue. Some call 7 leches the recipe that contains cinnamon. Other versions incorporate almond milk. By adding cocoa powder, we obtain the chocolate tres leches.

Level of difficulty : easy
Prep time : 30 min
Rest time : 2 hours
Cook time : 25 min
Total time : 2 h 55 min
Yield : 6 servings
Cake :
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
Cream :
4/3 cup condensed milk
1.5 cup evaporated milk or liquid cream
1 cup whole milk
Swiss Meringue :
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 pinch of salt
lemon juice (a few drops)

Cake :

  • Preheat the oven to 360° F.
  • Separate the whites from the yolks.
  • In a large bowl, add the egg whites and start beating until they become frothy.
  • Add the sugar and continue beating until you get a shiny mixture.
  • In another bowl, combine the egg yolks, a pinch of salt and the vanilla extract.
  • Add the previously sifted flour and mix gently.
  • Gently fold in the snowy eggs using a spatula up and down movements with the egg yolks-flour preparation.
  • Pour the mixture into a pre-buttered 10 inch pan.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 min until obtaining a golden color and when a knife blade inserted in its center comes out dry.
  • In a new bowl, add the condensed milk, the evaporated milk and the whole milk.
  • Mix well until you get a homogeneous texture.
  • When the cake is cooked, make small holes all over the surface using a straw, a stick or the handle of a wooden spoon.
  • Pour the mixture of the three milks on the cake evenly.
  • Put the cake in the refrigerator 2 h minimum.

Swiss meringue :

  • Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, then lower the heat over very low heat.
  • In a heat-resistant glass bowl, place the egg whites, sugar, a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice.
  • Put the bowl on top of the pot (the water should not touch the bowl directly).
  • Mix the egg whites with the sugar gently with a whisk for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Stir constantly to prevent eggs from cooking.
  • Then remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 min until the meringue forms peaks.
  • To stabilize the meringue, add 1 or 2 tbsp sugar when the right texture is obtained.

Finishing :

  • Spread the meringue over the entire surface of the cake with the back of a spoon or put in a piping bag and choose the nozzle of your choice.
  • Sprinkle the meringue with cinnamon powder.
  • Place in the refrigerator and let cool completely until ready to serve.

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