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The Best Authentic Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Serves 12-16     adjust servings

If you have never had Tres Leches Cake, you are in for a treat! Picture this: a fluffy white sheet cake, poked with holes and soaked in a mixture of coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk (tres leches means 3 milks!) The resulting cake is irresistibly moist. It's perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 5 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

For the milk

  • 1 (13.6 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups Coco Crema* (about 1 15-oz can)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

For the whipped cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • strawberries, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan with nonstick spray or rub with butter.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, add 5 egg whites. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the egg whites about 2-4 minutes, until stiff peaks form. See photos.
  4. Scrape the egg whites into a medium bowl and store in the fridge.
  5. In the same bowl that you beat the egg whites, add 1/2 cup butter and beat until smooth, scraping edges. Add 1 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping sides halfway through. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and beat well.
  6. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
  8. Add the flour and egg white mixtures in alternating batches. (Add about half the flour, stir, half the egg whites, stir, etc, until it's all added.) Do not over mix. Once it is combined, stop.
  9. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread out with a spatula.
  10. Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are pulling away from the sides of the cake pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no batter on it. Don't make a grocery store trip in this 25 minutes.
  11. While the cake is baking, make in a very large glass measuring cup or bowl, add 1 can coconut milk. Stick it in the microwave for 30-60 second and stir until all the lumps have disappeared. Add 2 cups Coco Crema*, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 1 can evaporated milk. Stir together until combined.
  12. When the cake is baked, remove from the oven, turn off the oven, and set a timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, use a chopstick to poke holes in the cake. In Laura's words: "Use a chopstick for bigger holes - you want a LOT of holes, to the point where it almost feels like you're going to ruin or smash the cake but don't actually ruin or smash the cake."
  13. Once you have holes all over the cake, take 3-5 minutes to SLOWLY pour the milk mixture all over the cake. If you pour too quickly, the top of your cake will not absorb the liquid. Yes, pour all of the liquid on the cake. It seems like too much. It's not!
  14. Once all the milk has been added, put the cake back in the oven that has been turned OFF and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the cake from the counter and let cool for a few minutes on the counter. Cover well and transfer to the fridge to cool completely, and to let the liquid absorb into the cake. This will take at least 4-6 hours.
  15. Once the cake is completely chilled and you are ready to serve, make the whipped cream. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat 2 cups cream on high for 2-4 minutes until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Beat well, scraping sides and bottom.
  16. Spread the whipped cream over the cake.
  17. Garnish with strawberries that have either been hulled and chopped, or you could just slice each one in half. and scatter over the cake. Top the whole cake with strawberries if you think you'll eat the whole cake that day. If you don't, then serve with cut strawberries, but spoon them on top of each serving. Fresh strawberries work better than strawberry sauce or sugared berries since the cake is so rich and has its own liquids already.

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