Also called Three-Milk Cake and Tres Leches Cake. A dense, moist “three milks” cake topped with a cloud of vanilla whipped cream. What makes it unusual is that after baked, it is perforated and soaked in a mixture of three different milk products: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk or heavy cream, hence the name Tres Leches.
The three milks, when combined, create just the right sweetness, density and “mouth feel” for a rich cake, making it moist but not mushy. The cake is like one big giant sponge soaking up the delicious milk syrup.
History: There is dispute over where it was first created. It is though to have come from native from Nicaragua by most historians. This cake is very popular in Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. I can find no proof of this, but the origin of the recipe is reported to come from the back of an evaporated milk or condensed milk can in Latin America to promote the use of the product. Evaporated milk and condensed milk were sold throughout Central and South America and even the Caribbean. By doing this, the company would boost their milk sales, which was probably the original idea.
Condensed milk first came into use in the mid-1850s as a way to preserve milk in cans, without refrigeration. Evaporated milk first became available during the 1870s when milk companies were able to heat the evaporated milk so that it would not spoil in the cans, thereby making the sugar unnecessary. They both became an immediate success in urban areas where fresh milk was difficult to distribute and store.
This cake probably became popular in the early 1900s. Today, the use of condensed and evaporated milk is a part of Latin American culture.
Tres Leches Cake – Pastel de Tres Leches – Three-Milk Cake Recipe:
This Tres Leches Cake recipe and photos were shared with me by Diane Rodiquez of Pleasanton, CA. Diane adapted this recipe from The Cocina Cubana Club (Pascual Perez and Sonia Martinez).