Peru’s celebrated cuisine is not only about famous chefs, outstanding dishes or the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, but as well about the often-forgotten sweet little temptations. One of these in the country highly popular sweet treats is Tres Leches, meaning Three Milks.
Tres Leches is a light and airy sponge cake soaked with a milk syrup made of three different types of milk - sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk (or heavy cream) – which is topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.
This absolutely delicious and addicting combination is usually eaten as cake or dessert, but to be honest works well around the clock and surely is a great soul food.
While Tres Leches isn’t originally from Peru, but rather is assumed to have been created first in Nicaragua or Mexico, and from there spread across Central, North and South America, the sweet, moist and rich cake today is “peruvianized” and can be found on every menu.
And the good thing: it’s incredibly easy to make with our recipe below not matter where you are in the world.
LimaEasy's Recipe for Tres Leches
Ingredients for the cake:
- 180 g (1.5 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 1 pinch of salt
- 150 g (3/4 cup) white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 80 - 100 ml (a good 1/3 cup) whole milk
Ingredients for the milk syrup:
- 1 can (397g / 14oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 300 ml (1 1/3 cups) evaporated milk
- 300 ml (1 1/3 cups) whole milk
- 1 - 2 Tbsp rum (Baileys tastes delicious as well)
If you, like my family and friends, prefer to have lots of extra delicious milk syrup with your Tres Leches, best prepare 1.5 or even 2 times the quantity.
Ingredients for the topping:
- 250 ml (1 good cup) whipping cream
- 50 g (1/4 cup) white sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Lightly grease a 33cm x 22.5cm (13” x 9”) glass baking dish or another “presentable” square or rectangular baking pan with a high edge or if you prefer single portions small ramekins or something similar.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside. Separate the eggs.
- Preparing the cake: add the salt to the egg whites and beat until stiff. Then gradually add the sugar and whisk until it is completely dissolved. Add the egg yolks and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Continue to beat until foamy. Very carefully fold in the flour-baking powder mixture, alternating with the milk until the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean) and remove from oven. Then loosen the edges with a knife and pierce the cake several times with a fork or skewer. Allow the cake to cool in the baking dish completely.
- Preparing the milk syrup: thoroughly combine the sweetened condensed milk, the evaporated milk, the whole milk and the rum.
- Soaking the cake: Leave the cake in the baking dish and pour some of the milk mixture slowly and evenly over it until soaked (you won’t need more than half of the milk syrup). Cover with cling film and refrigerate the cake and the rest of the liquid. After an hour soak the cake again with the syrup and keep covered for at least 3 hours (best overnight) in the fridge. Refrigerate the rest of the syrup as well.
- Finishing touches: To finish the Tres Leches whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla extract until stiff. Spread the cream generously over the top of the cake and sprinkle with cinnamon. Keep refrigerated until serving. Serve cut into small squares together with the rest of the syrup – if you, like my family and friends, prefer to have lots of extra delicious milk syrup with your Tres Leches, best prepare 1.5 or even 2 times the quantity.
- Indulge and enjoy!