The literal translation of "Tres Leches Cake" from Spanish to English is "Three Milk Cake". The concept is quite simple, which is cake served with 3 kinds of milk - evaporated milk + condensed milk + whipped cream.
For readers who is hearing about Tres Leches Cake for the first time, you might pause and say "what the heck is this?!" Well, you are not alone because I was in the same boat until not too long ago.
Here's the story.
A good friend moved to a Hispanic-centric neighborhood and there is a Mexican bakery/cake shop next door. One day, he bought some tres leches cake for us to try and the experience was unbelievable and memorable. Since then, tres leches cake became a staple whenever we hang out in that neighborhood.
The awesome space where lots of tres leches cake were consumed for all kinds of reasons - birthdays, farewell parties, game nights, and "just because we can" (picture courtesy of Antelmo Villarreal)
Now before you read further, imagine this for a second - cake soak-laden in 3 kinds of milk. The cake is soggy and wet. It does not sound appetizing at all. This is a common reaction I get (including my own).
Well, let me just say this out right - it is delicious! If you live in NYC, do yourself a favor and track up to Spanish Harlem. Contact me before you go and I will tell you where to find tres leches cake.
A street view of Spanish Harlem. Looks just like any other streets in NYC. (picture courtesy of Antelmo Villarreal)
I have been dreaming about tres leches cake and I finally turned this dream into reality. Except one problem - I don't want to make a cake, so I cheated and bought a sponge cake. For experiment sake, I just want to have a proof-of-concept that it will work.
I improvised a lot since this is purely experimental, nothing is quantitative here. Assuming you already have a cake, the rest is easy:
1. I started with 3 slices of screwpine-flavored sponge cake.
2. Then, I whipped some cream and sugar until it formed stiff-peak.
3. Next, I mixed half a can of evaporated milk with half a tablespoon of condensed milk (some recipes have different ratios but I adjusted the sweetness according to the sweetness of the cake. I don't want the whole cake to taste too sweet).
4. Finally, I poured the evaporated + condensed milk mixture on to the cake. Yes, just pour and let it soak! Just make sure you have enough milk. It is better to have excess.
5. Seal the container and let the cake soak for a couple of hours.
6. Carefully (the cake is soggy and fragile) transfer the cake to a serving dish, put the whipped cream on the cake and garnish with whatever you like. In my case, Pineapple because it is a regional fruit.
Soggy cake? A must-try as long as it is soaked in sweetened milk!!!