Updated Friday, September 6th, 2013
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 1 hour cooling
Hands On Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
"Tres leches" (Spanish for "three milks") cake is a sponge cake soaked in a sauce made from a blend of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream, which gives it an almost pudding-like texture. Its origins are probably European, but it's now very much a Latin American dessert. Chilled and frosted with freshly whipped cream, it's a dairy celebration in every cold, creamy, delicious bite.
Preheat your oven to 350° and lightly butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.
First, make the cake batter: In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until firm (but not dry) peaks form. Set aside.
In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed until pale and thick. Add the milk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. With your mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the yolk/sugar mixture and beat until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the egg whites.
Transfer the batter to the prepared dish, and smooth it with a rubber spatula. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.
Next, prepare the milk sauce: In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. With a wooden skewer or a fork, poke the warm cake all over; then slowly and evenly pour the milk sauce over the top. (You might think you have too much sauce, but keep going--the texture will be perfect.)
Let the cake cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. If you're not serving it immediately, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it.
1 pint heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Fresh berries (optional)
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