After finals week, I could not wait to come back to Maryland to see my friends from high school. I had to stay on campus until the very last day because I still had a philosophy final to complete before coming back home. Seeing most of my college friends who were already done with their exams pack and leave made me even more impatient! I was already planning my summer break in my head every time my thoughts drifted away from the piles of philosophy notes I had laid out on my desk.
Finally, May 13 arrived and before I knew it, I was writing down the conclusion to the last essay of the exam booklet. As soon as I finished, I happily turned in my blue book and headed back to my dorm to finish packing and to turn in my dorm keys. I was thrilled to be done but I also started to feel nostalgic thinking of all the great memories I had made over my freshman year. It actually did not even fully hit me until I was in the car with my dad and realized I am now a rising college sophomore.
My first week home, I was so exhausted that my daily agenda consisted mostly of sleeping, watching Gilmore Girls, and motivating my friends over at the University of Maryland who still had a few exams to tackle. We planned to meet at my house right after everyone was finished in order to catch up, watch movies, and bake Tres Leches Cake.
While Cinco de Mayo had already passed, we were still in the month of May and everyone was pretty enthusiastic about having this dessert. Tres Leches Cake is basically a vanilla cake that is left to soak into a sweet mixture made from three types of milk (hence the name “Tres Leches” which is Spanish for “Three Milks”). Traditionally, the three types of milk used are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. Then the top of the cake is frosted with whipped cream and maraschino cherries. However, I substituted the heavy cream with regular milk (whole or 2%) to give it a lighter texture and replaced the maraschino cherries with fresh fruits because many of my friends are not fans of these bright red sweet cherry preserves. I liked the fresh fruits more as well because I noticed that they balanced out the sweetness of the cake really well and added more variety to the color and texture.
~ Tres Leches Cake ~
1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Three Milk Mixture –
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
fresh fruits (like grapes, mangoes, starfruits, etc)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a 9 x 13 baking pan.
2. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar and incorporate in the eggs and vanilla extract.
4. Pour in the regular milk and fold in the flour mixture.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.
6. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, then prick it everywhere with a fork so the milk can seep into the small holes.
7. Mix together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and regular milk and pour the mixture all over the cake.
8. Let it sit and soak up the milk mixture for 35 minutes.
9. Meanwhile to make the whipped cream, whisk the heavy whipping cream until it gets thicker.
10. At this point, add in the confectioners sugar, the vanilla extract, and the almond extract and keep whisking until it reaches stiff peaks.
11. After the cake soaks up all/most of the milk mixture, frost the top with the whipped cream.
12. Cut up the fruits in desired sizes and arrange all over the Tres Leches Cake.
Many of my friends helped during the baking process and one of them who is particularly adept with her professional camera took great photos for me to use on this post. What I love the most about the cake is that even when it is drenched in the milk mixture, it does not become soggy or fall apart. Instead, it completely absorbs everything and holds a perfect shape which makes it much easier to serve.