Sunday, March 11, 2007

A dense, decadent dessert: mi favorito, Tres Leches

Friday night, we had friends from Toronto visiting and I'd decided to make a Mexican meal featuring guacamole, carnitas tacos, real margaritas (you know: fresh limes, no mix) and for dessert, Tres Leches cake. My rationale was that these Canadian folk don't have the same access we do to good Mexican, so I reckoned I'd make something really authentic. This totally cracked Michael up, my being of German & Scottish descent and all. Anyway, snickering aside, I was determined to make the themed meal, and especially the cake, since a) it's divine, b) the best one I've ever had was from Market Hall and I'll be damned if I'm driving to Berkeley for something I can make at home and c) I found a recipe online that sounds super-simple and dead-on delicious.

If you've never had Tres Leches, there's something important to understand: It can be knock-your-calcetines-off amazing, or it can be muy, muy nasty. In the latter case, it's usually because it was produced by a grocery store and slathered in veggie-oil based frosting, like those sheet cakes you get from Safeway. In the former case, however, when it's delicioso, it's probably because it was made by some little abuelita who gave it plenty of TLC. With that thought in mind though, you may be surprised to learn that I chose a recipe from Emeril, who–as far as I know–is neither Mexican, female nor anyone's granny. He does have a recipe however that sounded right on based on the cake I wanted to create. It yielded a dessert that was dense with milky moisture (the desired effect) and sinfully sweet. In short, it was perfect.

And this is it.

Please forgive the poor photo quality. I still haven't replaced my camera, so I'm relying on my built-in Mac computer cam in the meantime.

If you do choose to make this cake, start the night before, so all tres of your leches can soak in overnight.

Also, know that when you make it, you will simply have to eat two pieces, so it ends up being seis leches in the end.

Tres Leches

6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream topping:
1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 25 minutes.

To make the cream topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high speed.

Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, pour the cream mixture over it. Let sit and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

To make the icing: Once the cake is completely chilled, in a saucepan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 to 240 degrees F. Remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. While beating, add the hot syrup in a stream. Beat until all the syrup has been added, the mixture cools, and a glossy icing forms.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Sergio, i am from argentina, if you can speak with me, my msn is thank´s

3:00 PM  
Blogger Paige said...

This cakes rocks. For days. Excellent first thing in the morning with coffee, especially when you don't cut a slice but eat it straight off the cake plate with a fork. Start from the middle and work outwards.

7:16 PM  

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