Tres Leches Cake: A Delightful Mexican Dessert

tres leches cake
tres leches cake

A slice of Tres Leches Cake with a sliced strawberry on top, served on a plate.

Every family has their favorite desserts, and for my family, Tres Leches Cake ranks among the top favorites of all time. This ultra-light cake soaked in a sweet milk mixture and topped with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon is a Mexican delicacy that never fails to delight. Not only is it not overly sweet, but it’s also incredibly easy to make. Plus, the fact that you can prepare it in advance makes it perfect for gatherings. So let’s dive into the world of Tres Leches Cake and discover its magic.

What is Tres Leches?

Tres leches, meaning “three milks” in Spanish, refers to the key ingredients that give this cake its unique texture and flavor. Tres Leches Cake is an ultra-light sponge cake that is soaked in a sweet milk mixture. It’s a popular dessert in Mexico, Latin America, and even in the United States, often featured in Mexican restaurants.

This cake is similar to angel food cake, with the whipped egg whites in the batter contributing to its light and spongy texture. After baking the cake, it is pierced all over with a fork, and a mixture of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk is poured over the top. This process allows the cake to absorb the milks, resulting in its moist and decadent consistency.

How to Make Tres Leches Cake

Egg whites in a mixing bowl, egg yolks in a separate mixing bowl, and flour, baking powder, and salt in a third mixing bowl.

To make Tres Leches Cake, start by combining flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In separate bowls, whisk the egg yolks with sugar until pale yellow, then add milk and vanilla extract. Pour this yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir gently until combined.

Next, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, gradually adding sugar. Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter until well combined. Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Once the cake has cooled, poke holes all over the top with a fork.

Cake batter smoothed into a 9x13 inch baking pan.

Combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk in a small bowl. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the cake, making sure to cover the edges. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour, allowing it to absorb the milk.

For the finishing touch, whip heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the cake and add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. If desired, garnish with fresh sliced strawberries. Store the Tres Leches Cake in the refrigerator, covered, for 3-5 days.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions

A pan of sliced tres leches cake with a piece removed.

The great thing about Tres Leches Cake is that you can make it in advance. In fact, I prefer making it the night before to ensure that the cake has ample time to soak up the milk mixture. This way, the flavors meld together perfectly, resulting in a truly indulgent dessert.


Can I freeze Tres Leches Cake?

Yes, you can freeze Tres Leches Cake. To do so, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Is Tres Leches Cake gluten-free?

Traditional Tres Leches Cake is not gluten-free since it contains wheat flour. However, you can experiment with gluten-free flour alternatives to make a gluten-free version of this beloved cake.

Tres Leches Cake is a true culinary delight that captures the essence of Mexican cuisine. Its light texture, sweet milk soak, and creamy topping make it a must-try dessert for any occasion. Whether you’re hosting a Mexican-themed dinner or simply craving a luscious treat, Tres Leches Cake is sure to impress. So why not indulge in this delectable delight and experience the magical combination of three milks?

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