Tres Leches Cake Adventures

7 Jun

My sister Sarah sent me an email yesterday with a link to a recipe of a cake that I am extremely fond of: tres leches cake. It’s amazing. And, since I was having issues deciding what I wanted to make for dinner, I decided “what the heck, let’s do Mexican!”. We made fajitas and tres leches cake. Yuuuum! I’ll post the fajita recipe at some later date. The cake recipe had a really pretty picture on the front, and since I was feeling adventurous, I dove right in.

For the cake:

  • 2 cups (8 oz.) blanched almonds
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder

For the soaking liquid:

  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. dulce de leche
  • ¼ cup cream of coconut
  • ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the sugared almonds:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • ½ cup sugar

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Fresh berries, for garnish (optional)

I’m not going to lie, this is not a recipe for A) those with not a lot of time or B) the faint of heart. But, if you aren’t one of those things, go right ahead. It doesn’t hurt.

First, line the bottom of your 9×13″ pan with parchment paper (or foil, I suppose), and spray and/or flour the sides of the pan. This is important! I didn’t line the bottom of my pan with paper, and I had one heck of a time getting it out.

Then, get your almonds, 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon and blend them together in a food processor. I probably only used one cup of almonds… no big. Right?

And for the record, I love my Ninja food processor. It is pretty much my favorite kitchen appliance ever.

It's a Ninja. It's awesome.

Take a big mixing bowl, and whip your egg whites until they’re fluffy and make stiff peaks. Funny story… I don’t read recipes; almost ever. I think I’ve mentioned that a few times. So I just separated two eggs and disposed of the yolks. That wasn’t smart. SAVE YOUR YOLKS! Anyway, I whipped the two egg whites until they were stiff and making peaks, like the recipe said. When I went to look at how much flour to add, I noticed something funny… the recipe said 7 eggs, not 2. Wow, I’m smart.

Anyway, the moral of the story is to use seven (7) eggs. And don’t throw away the yolks.

Transfer them to a separate bowl (what?!) and set aside.

Wipe out your mixing bowl, and to the now-clean bowl add your egg yolks and remaining sugar (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs), and beat on medium high speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Fold in the baking powder and flour gently with a spatula, and then fold in your almond mixture.

(The alt text is supposed to say baking powder, not baking soda. My bad.)

And then you “mix in a third of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.  Fold in the remainder of the egg whites until evenly incorporated and no streaks remain”. I think about halfway through reading that I said “screw it” and added all the egg whites at once, folding somewhat gently.

And then I kind of mixed the entire thing together with my mixer… that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Don’t be like me.

Then, pour it gently into your prepared pan and bake for 26 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 26 minutes was perfect for me, for you it may be different. Just make sure you don’t over-bake it.

While it’s baking, make your soaking liquid and whipped topping, and prepare your sugared almonds.

For the soaking liquid, literally just throw your milks into a bowl and sir. Well, add them to a bowl. Throwing them in might get a bit messy.

And you know what? I didn’t have any dulce de leche on hand, and I was kind of in a rush, so I didn’t add it. And I didn’t add cream of coconut.. I just added some coconut milk. Did it taste fine? No. Did it taste great? Yes.

For your whipped topping, pour your heavy whipping cream into a bowl and whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form (What is it about this recipe and peaks?!). Then add your confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, whipping to combine.

Your cake should probably be done by now, so let it cool for five minutes, and then invert it onto some parchment paper on a wire cooling rack.

Remember how I said I didn’t line the bottom with parchment paper? Yeah, that is a HUGE mistake. Even gravity didn’t get that sucker out of the pan.

Don’t be like me. Anyway, while your cake cools, prepare your sugared almonds. Honestly, I think the almonds are this recipe’s saving grace, and I don’t even like nuts. I know, right? Anyway, these are pretty freaking good.

Take your egg whites and whip them until frothy; not necessarily until soft peaks form. Stir in your almonds and sugar until evenly incorporated.

Line a baking sheet (or cookie sheet, or whatever floats your boat that day) with parchment paper or foil (I learned my lesson this time!), and spread your almond mixture around in an even layer.

Then lower the temp on your oven temperature to 325 and bake your almonds for about 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown and slightly crispy.

This is how they should look when they come out of the oven (pardon the bad lighting… I’m not a photographer).

And then you’ll want to break them up slightly (I used a meat tenderizer covered in plastic so the almonds wouldn’t get in the grooves) after they’ve had a chance to cool for five minutes or so. Once you’ve beaten them, transfer them into a bowl and break them up into fine pieces with your hands. Make sure to wash your hands first.

Don’t be ashamed if you sneak a few pieces. They’re really tasty.

Then comes the time to (finally!) assemble the cake. Honestly, I found this part to be kind of tedious and time-consuming, so I probably didn’t allow enough time for the soaking liquid to soak, but it still tasted pretty good.

Using a “serrated knife” (a normal knife would work just as well, IMHO), cut your cake into thirds width-wise, like so:

For the record, I have no idea why it looks green. I really don’t. Yours shouldn’t look green if you lined your bottom with parchment paper.

Put one of your thirds on a serving platter, and brush with as much soaking liquid as you can get it to absorb. The more, the better.

Pardon the blurriness.

And then put some of your whipped topping on top, and then put another layer, brush more soaking liquid, put more whipped topping, put the last layer on, and then cover the entire thing in whipped topping.

At least, try to make it look somewhat pretty. I just kind of slathered the stuff on. Don’t be like me.

And then cover it with your sugared almonds, topping with your berries (I used raspberries) for garnish.

I kind of flung the almonds at the sides to make them stick… it didn’t work too well but I’m too impatient for cake to make it work. You’ll probably have better luck. Cut into slices and serve:

Try to ignore the measuring cups in the background. I just wanted cake.

My dad said he would give this cake a 9.5, but I’d say around a 7. It’s definitely not as good as another tres leches cake I’ve made in the past (which I will post… eventually), but it’s pretty good in and of itself. Store covered in the fridge. Enjoy!


2 Responses to “Tres Leches Cake Adventures”

  1. Missy June 13, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    Yummmm! I totally want to try this!!


  1. Fajitas! And cake. That makes sense, right? « The Young Adult Chef - October 28, 2011

    […] I made tres leches cake for dessert- the good kind, this time, as opposed to this recipe, which I did not really enjoy that much. Here’s the good recipe. God bless Ree Drummond. […]

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