Tres Leches Cake

Total Time:
45 min
20 min
25 min

16 to 20 servings


Position rack in bottom 1/3 of oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with the shortening. Add 1 tablespoon of the flour to the greased pan and shake it around to coat the entire pan with the flour. Shake out excess flour. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar with the mixer running, beating until stiff peaks form.

Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each egg is added. In a small mixing bowl, sift together the 2 cups flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the batter in stages, alternating with the whole milk, beginning and ending with the flour. (Do this quickly so that the batter does not lose its volume.) Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and 2 cups of the heavy cream. Cover and blend on high for 45 seconds.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of the milk mixture, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve the cake.

Pour 1/2 of the remaining milk mixture over the warm cake.

When the cake has soaked up most of the liquid, pour the remaining half of the milk mixture over the cake, and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, beat the remaining cup of heavy cream in the electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners' sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the chilled cake.

Serve the cake with the reserved chilled milk sauce.

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    55 Reviews
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    I found the cake flavour too eggy for tres leches.
    I made this and thought the cake should bake closer to 45 than 25 minutes. Then it worked perfectly, I used whipped cream with a little lime zest to top it off and next time may additionally sprinkle a little cinnamon on top as well for a green, white, and red appearahce that mimics the Mexican flag.
    I made this for a Cinco de Mayo party. Everyone is still talking about it. Perfect dessert, not too sweet. One cake goes a long way.
    Great recipe. I made this for the first time for a teacher appreciation luncheon. Everybody loved it and even had a few people from Mexico tell me it tasted just like back home. Make sure to use all the milk that is called for as it is supposed to resemble more of a bread pudding than a traditional cake. This is now my husband's favorite cake!
    Served this at a Mexican-themed Christmas Party. Of all the desserts (and there were many!, this was the first gone and received the most compliments. Following some of the reviews, I poked lots of holes in the cake with a skewer and poured ALL the milk mixture over it. Perfect texture and taste. Will definitely make again.
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is quite possibly the worst Tres Leches I have ever tasted. Here in Houston we have lots of Mexican Restaurants and I taste the Tres Leches at almost every one. This recipe just isn't good. It tastes like a blob of flower with just a little bit of sweet sauce on it. Not sweet enough, texture is poor. I'm going to have to throw out the entire pan after tasting two pieces.
    I've made this several times now - as written each and every time. You definitely want to take your time when pouring the liquid over the cake at the end. Go slow so every piece soaks up some of that deliciousness. Even my uber-picky 6 year-old requests this cake. Outstanding! I serve it with berries and nectarines.
    I've never made this cake before. It turned out much better than I thought. I did read all the reviews, but still followed the recipe. It does use a lot of the milk mixture, and I thought that if I made this again that I wouldn't use as much. However, I conferred with some of my hispanic friends and they said it needed more milk. So, I would definitely make this recipe again and try to use all the milk mixture it calls for.
    Love, love, LOVE this cake. I usually add about 1/2 jar of caramel ice cream topping, lots of cinnamon, and a few tsps of sea salt to the milk mixture before pouring over the top.
    This was not as good as I expected it to be. Will not make again.
    Yum! I've never had this and was expecting a soggy result, but happily surprised! Of note: be sure you use a blender. I used my food processor and it leaked everywhere. Also, the milk sauce portion that was to be poured over the cake was nearly twice what I was able to use; I wound up throwing nearly half of it away. Even so, this is a GREAT cake, and I will definitely make again - and again.
    It was okay. The whipped cream lacked sweetness and flavor. I am Hispanic and have had Tres Leches many times before and I don't think this recipe matched the "traditional" taste of an authentic one. Although I will add that just because it doesn't taste the same doesn't mean it tasted bad. After drenching it with the milk mixture after pulling out of the oven the cake was not too moist but after pouring the separated milk right before serving it it really is a moist cake with good flavors combined. Emeril,sorry, you did not get two thumbs up from me on this one but thank you anyway for satisfying a sweet tooth.
    My family absolutely loved this recipe! It was super moist and melted in your mouth. My in-laws said it was like bread pudding on steroids. This has quickly become a family favorite.
    I made this cake for a pot luck. I had it at a Cuban restaurant and also at a baking contest and I loved it. I found this recipe and, although it was a hit and everyone said they loved it, I was not happy with it. It tasted nothing like the Tres Leches Cakes I had tasted. The ones I tasted were almost like a pudding cake. This recipe, although it was moist, was still a little dry compared to the others I have tried. It was also very sweet for my taste. A man at work, who is from Cuba, said his wife makes the best Tres Leches Cake so I had him taste mine. He also said it should be much more soggy than it was so he is going to get me the recipe.
    This is very close to the top of my favorite cakes. It received raves from all the family when used as a brithday cake today for my son-in-law. It is light, moist and makes you want more.
    This cake is AMAZING!!!! I made it for the 1st time for xmas and everyone loved it...right now im making my 2nd one of the week and will make another one for New Years Eve Party :. Chef Emeril is the BEST and i LOVE all his recipes!!!! THE BEST CAKE EVER....THANK YOU :
    Delicious !! I only put 1 of the evaporated milk and one of the condensed milk it was perfect that way
    I made this cake yesterday. This was my second attempt (my first one being an absolute disaster and it was a screaming success. I had no trouble getting all the milk mixture to absorb but I found this cloyingly sweet. Recipe called for 2 cans of sweetened condensed and I would definitely cut that one extra out and maybe add 2 cans of evap. Getting the eggs right is the key to make the cake almost like a meringue.
    I tried both Alton Browns Tres Leche and Emeril's. They are both excellent, Emerils is a bit sweeter and airy and Altons more dense and buttery. Both recipes are delicious and easy.
    Has anyone tried making this in a bunt cake pan? If so, what temp did you bake it, and how long? I just think it would look good...if it turned out.
    This cake was excellent! It was not a "wet" cake as most usually are. This was my first attempt at Tres Leche cake as an experiment for our upcoming company picnic. My niece LOVES tres leche cake and she LOVED this one too! I took a short cut with the frosting and used a commercial brand. Once I pre-sliced the cake to proper portion sizes, I added a marchiano cherry and sprinkled cinnamon on each piece. I'm my own worst critic and I enjoyed every bite!
    This was absolutely delicious! It really hit the spot! I was craving tres leches and I was very happy with the outcome. My only complaint is that the recipe ought to say approximately how long it will take to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, for us worrywarts who aren't super experienced. It seemingly took forever. Also, do NOT dump the amount of milk you're supposed to put on the cake all at once, or it will seriously overflow! The cake went all the way to the top of my 9x13 pan, so I just poured a little at a time, and since the middle was a little dipped in (I checked it too soon, I think, I just used my clean finger to push the milk from that center to the edges to help get a more even soak-in. I did have a little that didn't soak in, but not much. I didn't make the whipped cream topping because it just seemed like it might be overkill and I figured if I left it out I could just buy a pint of whipped cream.
    I LOVE this cake recipe!!!! I used Alton Brown's mixture for the three milks, but I am in love with this cake recipe. It is the first cake I made from scratch, and I am going to use it again today. But, instead of using the tres leches mixture I'm going to use up some fresh plums, peaches, and nectarines. I'm going to cook them first to make a syrup and use the syrup to soak in the cake.
    I have tried 3 Tres Leches Cake recipes and this is the best one by far! It uses a sponge cake base and works the best at soaking up and holding the milk mixture. I think this version (and most traditional recipes) are very sweet--too me almost cloyingly so. In my last version, I cut the sweetened condensed milk in half and that seemed perfect to me. Agree with others to definitely let sit overnight and use the recommended amount of milk mixture. The cake is supposed to be "soggy"!
    Amazing! I have made this a couple times and it has been a hit. Definitely let it set overnight, the longer it the milk sets in, the better it is.
    Omg!!! This is great I have made it several times and it is requested at work often. I made it as written, but also a tweak, using half white sugar and half brown sugar in the cake and instead of the sweetened condensed milk, I substituted 2 cans dulce de leche in the cream mixture. It gives a great caramel flavor.
    Tasted great and everyone at my pictionary party loved it. Instead of using the extra milk mixture I just used a can of whipping cream.
    Wish I could give it more stars! My new favorite cake! Made it twice for 2 separate gatherings and everyone loved it!
    the best tres leche cake in the world! it is so fun to make and everyone at my party asked for the recipe!
    I am prepping for a Mexican-themed party and did a trial run of this recipe for our dessert. It is tasty, but I did have entirely too much milk mixture than the cake could absorb. For the cup and a half of the milk mixture that you serve with the cake, I added some cinnamon for us to dip our bites in. That was a nice little addition. It's a very time-consuming cake to make, but we enjoyed it. When I make it for the party, I will poke holes in the cake and I will probably use less milk mixture.
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