pastel de tres leches

Pronunciation: [pahss-TAYL day trays LAY-chays]

A popular special-occasion dessert throughout Latin America, means "cake of three milks" (or "three milks cake"). Though thought to have originated in Nicaragua, it's also found in other countries including Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela and now the United States. The name ("three milks") refers to an integral part of the cake—a sauce made with evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and fresh milk or cream. Once the baked cake has cooled, the top is perforated and the sauce drizzled over it so it can saturate the cake. The resulting cake, which is dense and moist but not overly wet, is usually finished with a topping of whipped cream or meringue.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

Next Up

Cinco de Mayo Across the Country

Satisfy your Cinco de Mayo cravings at Food Network-approved Mexican eateries across the country.

Cinco de Mayo Drinks and Appetizers

Get your Cinco de Mayo fiesta started with these festive appetizers and killer cocktails.

How to Make Dulce de Leche

You only need one ingredient: sweetened condensed milk.

Our Best Sips for Cinco de Mayo

Margaritas or sangria — which will you be sipping?

Marcela Valladolid's Cinco de Mayo Must-Haves

Hear from Food Network's Marcela Valladolid to learn her top tips for the ultimate fiesta, featuring the best-ever guacamole, tacos and margaritas.

Raise a Glass to Cinco de Mayo

Check out a few of Food Network's favorite easy-to-make cocktails ideal for celebrating Cinco de Mayo.