Tres Leches Cake for Dinner

Ok, maybe I should not be telling you to eat cake for dinner. After all – dessert tastes best when preceded by a savory meal.  Or for breakfast… but you didn’t hear it from me.

The day that I made this cake I did in fact eat a bit of dinner. But then, when I finally finished whipping the cream, and taking the photos, and doing the dishes, and wiping the counter, I sat down and sank my fork into a big slice of this and I think I tilted back and laughed a devilish guttural laugh.  It’s a sinful kind of cake.  It’s got the consistency of something that should be wrong. Like it went through a torrential downpour of cream and milky goodness and never managed to dry out after the storm. It’s not waterlogged though – its milk logged. (coined it!)

I shop at an ‘Asian’ Grocery store to get all my imported goods.  While they carry the standard variety of soy sauces and curry pastes they also stock things like chipotle peppers, maple syrup,  and Russian beers.  Sometimes I just go there to peruse the aisles and see what I’m missing from far away places.  This is what inspired the Tres Leches. I passed by a can of evaporated milk and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen that particular item sold anywhere else.  But it also occurred to me that I had no idea what people used this stuff for. I brought it home and took to google to find out.

Turns out there are many who simply use it as a substitute for cream in any recipe that normally calls for cream.  Mac n’ cheese, panna cotta, cream for a cup of coffee, you name it.  It is also commonly used for a popular Filipino desert called Halo which is a combination of shaved ice and evaporated milk (which I fully intend to try another day).  But these uses didn’t strike me on this day.  The truth is, I had been thinking about a cake for a few months, I just didn’t know what it entailed. On a whim and another google I found out that….wallah! Evaporated milk is one of the 3 milks found in the oh so sopping wet Tres Leches Cake. Rejoice!

This guy is pretty simple in essence.   A light and airy sponge cake gets baked and cooled and forked. Then a drizzle of 3 sticky smooth milks get dumped on top seeping into alls it’s cakey pores.  The cake then takes on an entirely new texture and eventually you top the whole thing with more cream so that you are exactly on track with your dairy intake for the week…in one slice.  I didn’t say you should eat it all the time!  Just once on a special occasion, and then again in the morning when even more liquid has absorbed and nestled itself inside the cake.  But that is IT. Promise yourself and me that much.

Dreamy creamy Tres Leches, why do you tease me so?

Tres Leches Cake…I think I love you.

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons rum
1 small can of condensed milk
3/4 small can of evaporated milk
1/4 cup of whipping cream

Whipped Cream Topping

I opened a small container of whipping cream for the cake and just used the rest with some sugar for the whipped cream topping.

Making the Cake:

Preheat 350F and grease a 9″ x 13″ pan with ample butter.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites, saving the whites off the side in a clean bowl.  Add all of the sugar except for a couple spoonfuls and beat with an electric beater or whatever you have that moves things quickly and with force.  The mixture should turn pale.  Add in milk, vanilla and rum.  Combine.

In a new bowl combine the dry ingredients.  Pour this egg mixture over the flour and stir.

After you’ve washed those beaters, use them to beat your egg whites into soft peaks. Just before they are peaked add the remaining spoonfuls of sugar and beat until combined.

Gently fold these fluffy peaks into the cake mixture until combined.  Pour into greased pan and back for about 35 minutes.  Until golden brown and not jiggly.

Once it cools a bit, loosen the edges and and flip the whole cake out onto a pan with side. I used a baking sheet.

Combine the 3 milks (hence the name!): evaporated, condensed, and whipping cream something that is easy to pour with.  Using a fork, poke some holes in the top of the cake…or if you are like me you poke a lot of holes because it is too fun.

Carefully pour this cream mixture all over the surface of the cake. ALL OVER. make sure to pour along the edges and not just in the center. You want this whole entire sponge cake to be saturated in cream.

Let the cake stand for about an hour, you can watch as the remaining liquid gets soaked inside the cake.  While you watch and wait, whip the remainder of your cream with a splash of sugar until its nice and peaky.  When the cake has sufficiently absorbed the liquid go ahead and spread the whipped cream over the top.

Slice and serve, or just get your fork and dig in.  It’s insane.

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