Recipe courtesy of Valarie Enters

Tarta Tres Leches

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 35 min
  • Prep: 1 hr 25 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 1 pie
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Grandma's Gold Cake:

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar (1 1/4 cups for high altitude)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour, plus 2 tablespoons

3 teaspoons baking powder (1 1/2 cups for high altitude)

1 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon for high altitude)

2/3 cup milk


2 cups homemade Shortbread, recipe follows

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 tablespoons salted butter

Lightly beaten egg whites


1 cup whole milk, plus 1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup half-and-half

2/3 cups sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

6 eggs

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, cubed small

1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract


1 cup corn syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 egg whites


1 cup salted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup rice flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

Three Milks:

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon rum (recommended: Bacardi)


Maraschino cherries

Mint leaves

Cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.;
  2. Grandma's Gold Cake Preparation:
  3. Beat butter, add sugar, add eggs, vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture and alternate with milk. Grease and flour cake pan. Line with parchment paper. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.;
  4. Crust Preparation:
  5. Process the shortbread in a food processor, pulsing until ground. Add sugar, pulse more, add butter and pulse until it looks like wet sand and holds somewhat together. Press into a glass pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Set on stove to cool. Brush lightly with beaten egg whites.;
  6. Creme Preparation:
  7. In a double boiler, place 1 cup of whole milk, 1/4 cup of half-and-half, 2/3 cups sugar and cinnamon sticks. Let heat until boiling and turn down to medium-high heat. Separate 6 eggs saving the whites in a separate bowl. Whisk the yolks, cornstarch and the 1/4 cup additional whole milk until well blended. Using a ladle, scoop out some of the hot milk mixture and temper the eggs whisking it carefully and adding it to the hot milk mixture. Take care to continuously stir with a whisk or it will lump up. When thickened pull off of heat source and add vanilla and butter. Cover and put in freezer to cool for 10 minutes. (I use a cake pan liner);
  8. Meringue Preparation:
  9. In a saucepan, boil the corn syrup, salt and sugar. Meanwhile, whisk egg whites in a stand mixer until firm peaks form. Take melted sugars off the stove and in a steady stream, add to the whisking egg whites. Keep whisking until glossy. Cover with a towel.;
  10. Shortbread Preparation:
  11. Cream butter, add sugars, blend and add vanilla. Add flours and cornstarch carefully by hand. Set aside and chill. Roll out between 2pieces of parchment, set in a cake pan to bake, mark designs with a fork. Bake in a preheated 325 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a rack.;
  12. Three Milks:
  13. Combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, heavy cream and rum.;
  14. Assembly:
  15. Spread creme on the pie crust. Add layer of vanilla cake. Poke holes with a fork and brush or spray cake layer with Three Milks mixture saving any that will not absorb into the cake layer. Spread meringue over the top, being sure to seal down to the edge of the crust. Garnish with maraschino cherries, 5 mint leaves and cake crumbs. Plate pie with a cinnamon stick rolled in cinnamon on the side and porcelain bull filled with more milk. Drizzle with Cajeta.;