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Jul 21, 2003 12:36 PM

tres leches cake

  • t

i need a great recipe for a tres leches cake. the best i've tasted (altho' maybe not traditional) is that served at bandera restaurant (owned by houston's restaurants). unfortunately i can't recall the specifics of it but it is d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!

but i'd love anyone's favorite tres leches cake recipe! pls. someone drop me a great lead.


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  1. The Celebration Cake, Pastel de Tres Leches in Rick Bayless's book Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen is quite fine.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      The best I've had is the chocolate tres leches cake at Ajili Mojili in San Juan, PR. Any ideas how that's made? It tastes steamed, maybe.

      1. re: Candy

        tks! i do have that book and so i will look it up and possible give it a run. still looking for others if anyone's got any recommendations.

        1. re: Candy

          I have made the recipe from James McNair's Cakes book, and everyone loved it. What made it especially good was that the mixture you poured over the cake was made of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. Most other recipes I have seen use milk instead of heavy cream. I don't know if the cream is authentic, but it is really good

        2. At a Fourth of July cook-out, we were treated to a lovely tres leches cake that Celery (SF ChowNews Editor) made for the first time. It came out very nicely and I think she said that she had her doubts that the cake could really absorb all the liquid called for, but it did.

          Our host, Dan Raffle, a Miami native mentioned that the trend at home now is cuatro leches, the fourth milk being an addition of dulce de leche. We grabbed the Smuckers caramel sauce on the buffet table and dolloped that on the cake too. Then as luck would have it, my sister had brought some incredible dulce de leche gelato from Oakland's Tango Gelato (Argentinian style) and we made it cinco leches (5 milks) with a scoop of ice cream over all!


          8 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I have found Coronado cajeta at many US markets that sell Mexican goods.

            It's much better with it, and anyone interested in learning about Mexican cooking, including Tres Leches Cake should make an effort to seek it out.

            There was also a recipe for Tres Leches in the recent Bon Appetit Mexican edition that called for Rompope.

            That sounds really, really good and I'm planning on trying it soon

            1. re: Chrissie

              Though I am lucky enough to have a reliable source for real dulce de leche, I usually hate paying 6 bucks a jar.

              I make this at home whenever I want it.

              Take a can of sweetened condensed milk (label removed), put it in your le crueset or other larger pot, fill it with water about 2/3 of the way up the side of the can, and bring to a simmer (uncovered)-- I keep a kettle of simmering water on the boil next to it as the water evaporates. Simmer for two hours. Open the can, and bam! dulce de leche. I transfer it with a hot, wet silicone or rubber spatula to a rubbermaid container for storage.

              I have never had a problem with exploding so long as you keep the heat low and don't let the water come to a full boil, and/or cover the top of the can. Some people punch a hole in the top of the can to avoid explosions, but I find this just makes a mess. I like Borden's or Goya's sweetened condensed milk the best.

              1. re: Erika

                I have been wondering about this for a long time. I think I will try it in a crockpot on low left overnight. Will post if not a disaster...

                1. re: suzannapilaf

                  Here's a link to Eagle Brand Condensed Milk's directions for making Dulce de Leche (or as they call it, caramel) using either the oven, the stovetop or the microwave. They very strongly advise against placing an unopened can on the stove or in the oven.


                  1. re: Nancy Berry

                    Definitely good tips for the safety-inclined. I find that Eagle brand tastes "chemically" when made into dulce de leche, though, so IMHO, try the same recipes with another brand.

              2. re: Chrissie

                The Best Tres Leches Cake is at a South American Restaurant in Houston called Churrasco's. I used to have the recipe but lost it. I've tried to find it on the internet, but nothing is quite like it. If anyone has the milk topping recipe that includes heavy whipping cream, cajeta, and something else (not sour cream) - maybe it's cream cheese, PLEASE SHARE!

              3. re: Melanie Wong

                Smuckers was the only dulce de leche I could find at my market at the time, I didn't feel like making the frosting, and the recipe had suggested serving it with the dulce. A splash of Cuban rum didn't hurt it at all either!

                first time I'd tried it and was happy it turned out and was so easy too.

                1. re: Celery

                  Sort of on the same subject, I used the warmed Smucker's (which I hadn't seen before) last night on grilled white peaches. Another friend had made banana bread and it was a great combination! Vanilla ice cream would have been perfect too.

              4. This is one of my favorite Mexican desserts, a classic. The recipe is adapted very slightly from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. It's fantastic, really addictive.

                *Pastel de Tres Leches*

                For the cake:
                3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) whole blanched almonds
                1 cup (3-1/2 ounces) cake flour, sifted before measuring
                10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter
                1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
                6 large eggs, room temperature
                3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
                The finely grated zest (colored rind only) of 1 lemon

                For the flavoring and frosting:
                2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
                1 can evaporated milk
                1 can condensed milk
                1/4 cup orange liqueur

                Make Cake:
                Turn on the oven to 325°F. Grease a 2" deep, 10" round cake pan or springform pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper or kraft paper, then grease the paper and flour it all--pan and paper.

                Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring them occasionally, for about 12 minutes, until aromatic and golden. Cool, then transfer to a food processor along with the flour. Run the machine until the nuts are pulverized.

                In a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring and swirling until nut brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool a little, then stir in the vanilla.

                Raise the temperature of the oven to 350°F.

                Combine the eggs, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon zest in the large bowl of your electric mixer (you will need a heat-proof bowl, preferably stainless steel), then choose a saucepan that the mixer bowl will fit snugly into. Fill the saucepan with 1" of water and bring to a simmer. Set the mixer bowl over the simmering water (you'll need to regulate the heat so the water no more than simmers), and whisk for several minutes, until very warm to the touch and foamy, and the sugar is completely dissolved.

                Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer and beat for a full 5 minutes (the mixture will be as thick as whipped cream that almost holds peaks).

                With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the almond mixture a couple of spoonfuls at a time, letting one addition just disappear before adding the next. Thoroughly mix 1/4 cup of the cake batter into the butter mixture. Then, in 2 additions, use a whisk to fold the butter mixture into the remaining cake batter.

                Immediately and gently scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the cake feels slightly springy on top and the sides just begin to pull away from the pan, about 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.

                Make Flavoring:
                Mix 3/4 cup of the cream with the evaporated milk and the condensed milk in a small bowl. Slowly brush or spoon half of the mixture over the cake while on the cooling rack. Carefully invert your serving plate over the cake and flip the two. Remove the cooling rack from what is now the top and slowly brush or spoon on the remaining mixture. (Soaking the cake will take 10 to 15 minutes, letting each addition soak in before adding more.)

                Make Frosting and Assembly:
                With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the remaining 1-1/4 cups of the cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the orange liqueur until very stiff.

                Spread the whipped cream over the sides and top of the cake. Save a little to pipe a border around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Cristina

                  This is very interesting. I caught a portion of a Rick Bayless show on PBS a year or more ago and the theme was 'birthday party'. He made Tres Leches cake and I could swear that he used cajeta (mexican goat's milk caramel) to deepen the caramel flavor...similar to the person who responded about using Dulce de Leche. So, now that I see the recipe and I don't see the cajeta I am left wondering if it was something else that he used.

                  Well, I might have to try the recipe you give, with and without the cajeta. All in the name of science, of course.

                  1. re: StephenB

                    The recipe in the book uses cajeta. I suspect that is the main slight modification in the recipe above since it is difficult to find for many people.

                    1. re: rjka

                      yeah, but it is not hard to make. Just get the goat's milk at the hairy armpit and shin store and reduce it to cajeta.

                      1. re: CG

                        Classic tres leches cake contains no cajeta. Rick Bayless may have made his own variation on it...but I've been in Mexico for 25 years and have never seen a pastel de tres leches made with cajeta. The standard variety is rich enough; cajeta would be gilding the lily.

                        1. re: Cristina

                          I agree. The best tres leches cakes are light despite their richness. I think the addition of cajeta/dulce de leche would make the cake too heavy.

                2. Seviche in Louisville, KY has Black and White Tres Leches Cake that defies description in its deliciousness.