Tres Leches (Three-Milk Cake)

Tres Leches (three-milk Cake) Recipe

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Vicki Butts (lazyme)


The most famous Nicaraguan dessert is tres leches. Three different kinds of milk are used in its preparation--fresh milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk--which explains the name.


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20 Min
45 Min


  • 1 c
  • 5 large
    eggs, separated
  • 1/3 c
  • 1/2 tsp
    vanilla extract
  • 1 c
    all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp
    baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp
    cream of tartar

  • 1 12-oz can(s)
    evaporated milk
  • 1 c
    sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 c
    heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  • 1 tsp
    vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp
    light rum

  • 1 c
  • 1/2 tsp
    cream of tartar
  • 3
    egg whites

How to Make Tres Leches (Three-Milk Cake)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Generously butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
  2. Prepare the cake:
    Beat 3/4 cup of the sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour, and baking powder.
  3. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and firm, but not dry.
  4. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the buttered baking dish.
  5. Bake the cake until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. Unmold the cake onto a large, deep platter. Pierce the cake all over with a fork.
  6. Prepare the milk syrup:
    Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla, and rum in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well mixed. Pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top until all is absorbed.
  7. Prepare the meringue:
    Place 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a heavy sauce pan with 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook over high heat, for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook the sugar to the soft ball stage, 239 degrees F on a candy thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to soft peaks with the cream of tartar. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating to stiff peaks. Pour the boiling sugar syrup in a thin stream into the whites and continue beating until the mixture is cool to the touch. The hot syrup "cooks" the whites.
  9. Using a wet spatula, spread the top and sides of the cake with a thick layer of the meringue.
  10. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving.

Printable Recipe Card

About Tres Leches (Three-Milk Cake)

Course/Dish: Cakes
Main Ingredient: Dairy
Regional Style: Latin American

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