When Brett and I were on our honeymoon we fell in love with a traditional Costa Rican dessert that they had a few nights called Tres Leches cake. This cake seriously makes no sense. I mean, really, a cake that is soaked with milk should be gross, mushy and soggy, right? Wrong. Seriously this cake is A-Mazing. Like the best cake ever. It’s this wonderful mix of sweetness and melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.
Here we are on our honeymoon so happy, knowing we are going to stuff our faces with deliciousness at dinner:
We loved it so much that one night we ate a huge piece for dessert at dinner and then brought another huge piece back to our room so we could eat it at 10 pm that night. Yeah, we were obsessed.
When we returned to the states we knew we had to find the recipe for this cake. However, we wanted to find the original Costa Rican version, not some American version that obviously would not be as delicious. But finally, oh happy day, Brett found it. An original recipe from a true life Costa Rican cook. And because I am so generous and kind I am going to share it with you all, because I truly believe that everyone needs to try this cake. Seriously, I don’t care if you are lactose intolerant, pop a pill and make this cake.
Oh, and PS. although this cake is pretty easy to make, it does take 2 days because the cake needs to sit in the fridge overnight. Just FYI so you can prepare accordingly.
Without further adieu I give you:
Tres Leches Cake
6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
4 tbsp. ice water
For The Tres Leches Syrup:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease and lightly flour a 9×13 inch rectangular baking dish (pyrex glass baking dish is good). Set aside.
Beat the 6 egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and self-raising flour, the 6 egg yolks and the ice water.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake in oven at 350ºF (180ºC) for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. (Make the Tres Leches Syrup while cake is baking). Remove cake from oven and place cake (Do NOT remove cake from baking dish) on wire cooling rack.
To Make The Tres Leches Syrup:
In a large bowl combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the 2 cups whole milk. Mix well.
With a fork, toothpick or wooden skewer, poke holes all over top of cake and pour the Tres Leches syrup over the top of cake until completely absorbed.
Once cake has cooled sufficiently, refrigerate cake overnight.
For the topping:
The next day, in a saucepan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. **Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235-240 degrees F (112-115 C) on a candy thermometer.** In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. While beating, add the hot syrup in a stream. Beat until all the syrup has been added, the mixture cools, and a glossy icing forms.
Spread the Meringue Topping evenly across the top of chilled cake.
**Brett and I do not own a candy thermometer so obviously we had no idea what the temp of the sugar was. And I had no idea what “soft ball stage” meant until I googled it. (FYI: It’s when you drop the sugar in a cup of cold water and it immediately forms into a soft ball). Anyways, Brett and I just winged it (wong it?) I put the sugar on high until it boiled then turned it down to low. I then stirred until the sugar was dissolved and then I dumped it into the egg whites. Not exact science, but hey, it worked great! The whole process took no more than 5 minutes.
So there you have it. We ate our first slices tonight and they were amazing. Okay, so maybe it’s more delicious when you’re sitting on the beach on our honeymoon, but trust me, it’s up there.
Now go bake a cake.