Pastel de Tres Leches

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Executive Chef
Jun 5, 2011
Mostly in my head
Don't let the length of the instructions intimidate you, this cake is relatively easy to make and absolutely delicious.

Pastel de Tres Leches (Three Milks Cake)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 whole eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk

12 oz can evaporated milk
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup heavy cream

2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
Cinnamon stick for grating (ceylon cinnamon is best if you can find it)

Dulce de Leche:
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk


You'll want to start the dulce de leche first. This is the very standard boiled can of sweetened condensed milk method (which is one of the best cooking hacks of all time). Just remove the label from one can of sweetened condensed milk. Then place it on its side in a large pot of water so that the water level is about two inches above the can. You want pleanty of room in the pot for the can and water. Bring the water to a low boil/simmer and cook for two hours (if at a high altitude you need closer to four hours). Keep an eye on the water level to make sure there is always enough water in the pan to keep the can completely submerged. Add more water as needed.

Once the time has finished remove the pan from the stove and begin replacing the hot water with cold tap water. Do not open the can until it has cooled as the contents will be under pressure and could burst out causing sticky, hot caramel to go all over (including onto you and trust me you don't want sticky hot stuff on your skin burning you). Once the water is cool enough to leave your hand in you can let it sit to finish cooling. If you need to cool the can more quickly keep it under running cold water until it stays cool to the touch when removed. This step can be done ahead of time, just keep it in the refrigerator until you need it. You won't end up using all of it so have lots of fun with the leftovers. Great stirred into coffee, on cookies, graham crackers, swirled into ice cream, on a spoon.

Once that is started preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9x13 cake pan. Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix together with a whisk (or sift them together if you prefer). Set aside for the moment.

Place the 3/4 cup of sugar in a second bowl. Separate the eggs putting the yolks in with the sugar and the whites in a third bowl. Using a whisk mix the sugar and yolks together until the yolks become pale yellow (you can use a mixer if you prefer). Add the 1/3 cup whole milk and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Mix with an electric whisk or mixer until smooth and slightly frothy. Set aside for the moment.

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. While continuing to beat the eggs, slowly add the 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue until the whites just form stiff peaks.

Gently mix the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture using a whisk until you have a smooth batter. Using a spatula (cake spreader) very gently fold in the egg whites until just incorporated, trying to lose as little volume as possible. Gently pour the batter into the cake pan, spreading evenly.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes. You'll know it's done when you can poke a toothpick into it and pull it out cleanly. Turn the oven off. Allow to cool for 1 hour in the oven. This will make sure you don't loose too much volume. Remove from the oven. Run a knife along the edges of the pan and cake, then flip upside down onto a serving tray. You'll want to make sure it's deep enough that when you pour the liquid over the cake it won't spill off the edge. Set the cake aside to cool.

In a small pitcher, bowl, or other container large enough to hold about 4 cups liquid mix the second can of sweetened condensed milk, the can of evaporated milk, and the 1/3 cup of heavy cream. Once the cake has cooled to room temperature use a fork to poke holes into the cake. Then slowly pour the mix of milks onto the cake, just a little at a time, evenly over the surface, allowing it to soak in each time before continuing. Once you have poured all the liquid onto the cake cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, using an electric whisk or mixer whip 2 cups (one pint) heavy cream with 1/4 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.

No more than 15 minutes before serving, spread the whipped cream evenly over the top of the cake. Using a micro-plain or fine grater grate a light amount of cinnamon stick all over the frosted cake. Using a small tip cake decorating tube pipe the dulce de leche in ribbons across the frosted cake (if you don't have a cake decorating tube you can make a cone out of parchment paper with a small hole at the bottom and it works just fine).

Serves bunches of people :)
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