Tres Leches Cake!

    I distinctly remember the first time I tasted the tres leches cake. I distinctly remember it because it was love at first bite. I remember the play of flavors and textures in my mouth and I remember just how moist it was; each and every crumb was drenched with flavor. I’ve been wanting to make it forever but I kept putting it off thinking it might be too hard to replicate. While flipping channels yesterday, I saw something on TLC about this cake and decided it was enough – I had to do it. So I marched in, fearlessly, oven mitts on determined to make a something leches cake.

    Now, this cake is a bit temperamental so I wouldn’t dream of making it on a hot day. Tres Leches essentially means ‘3 kinds of milk’ and you can interpret this your own way, using your own meld of flavors. On a skill level, this cake is for the slightly advanced or supremely fearless – it requires torting (splitting the layers in half), soaking and filling. Torting a cake has been giving me nightmares but I was able to do a decent job because I made the cake in the morning and let it sit in the fridge a while to firm up. This helped and I was able to split the cakes easily. Before you ask, you need to do this as a layer cake – that’s the whole idea of it. But trust me, armed with a good recipe for a basic vanilla cake and some chill time in the fridge, it isn’t hard to do. Then, you moisten it with some sweetened milk (you can add some essence to it), coat it with some dulce de leche and add a layer of whipped cream. Repeat for all layers, coat the top and sides of the cake with sweetened whipped cream and you have a grand looking layer cake on your hands.
    Tres Leches Cake
    Serves: 6 to 8
    Source: Doux Project Original!
    For vanilla cake base, I used this cupcake recipe. 24 cupcakes made two 8″ cakes that I split in half each. I made the cake 4 hours ahead and once they had come to room temperature, I wrapped them tightly in foil and further chilled them in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
    For sweetened milk:
    2 cups milk
    1 tsp sugar
    A few drops of vanilla essence or vanilla pod
  1. In a medium saucepan, add 2 cups of milk, sugar and essence. Bring to a boil and pour into a measuring cup. Set aside.
  2. For dulce de leche:
    1 can of Nestle Condensed Milk/Milkmaid (200ml)
  3. Over a double boiler, add the contents of the whole can of condensed milk and allow it to caramelize over medium heat for about 40 minutes or till its cooked down and creamy brown in color. Do not do this over direct heat or the condensed milk will burn.
  4. For Sweetened whipped cream:
    500 gms heavy cream (I used Rich’s Dairy Topping)
    1 tsp vanilla essence
    2 tbs powdered sugar
  5. In a bowl of a stand mixer (hand held would work too), add the cream and beat on high speed using the whisk attachment. Add the powdered sugar gradually and beat till soft peaks arise. Add the essence and beat again for a few minutes till stiff peaks are formed. Do not leave unattended as a few extra minutes can mean disaster!
  6. For assembly:
  7. Remove the cooled cakes from the refrigerator and split them horizontally using a cake leveler or a large palette knife.
  8. Add some dulce de leche on the cake board or cake plate (or whatever you are assembling it on) and add the bottom most layer of the cake. Using a large spoon or a brush, add the sweetened milk (about 1/2 a cup for each layer) making sure you moisten the cake all the way through.
  9. Next, add 2 – 3 tablespoons of dulce de leche and spread with a palette knife over the entire layer. Don’t be too exact – use enough to cover the entire layer including the edges of the cake.
  10. Add 3 – 4 tablespoons or a sufficient amount of sweetened whipped cream and cover the entire layer. I find it easier to just drop spoonfuls of whipped cream in the centre and then using a palette knife and a turntable, just keep turning the turntable keeping my palette knife in the centre till its spread neatly.
  11. Repeat for the remaining layers. Coat the sides and top of the cake and if you have any left over cream, pour into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe a pretty border around the top and bottom of the cake.
  12. Refrigerate till you serve. This cake tastes best cold. Be sure to not store it (in the refrigerator) with anything pungent. The cream absorbs all the aromas.

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