Pastel de Tres Leches
(3 Milks Cake)
June: National Dairy Month
A popular cake flavor around South Texas where we live is tres leches (3 milks). This is a favorite of Islander’s brother that he regularly requests it for his birthday and on special occasions.
The cake is soaked in three milks—sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and table cream (like a half-and-half milk and cream)—hence, the cake’s name. Then it is frosted in whipped cream mixed with cream cheese! The result is a dense, moist cake with a custard-like texture. Dairy lovers will delight in this cake but, unfortunately, for Islander and others who are intolerant or sensitive to all that dairy will have to long for other lactose-free cakes.
Prepare pastel de tres leches (3 milks cake) for special occasions and during National Dairy Month.
(From Señora Eva G.)
For the cake
- 1 box French vanilla cake mix (we recommend Duncan Hines brand)
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup oil
Prepare the cake mix following the directions on the box. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix with the eggs, water and oil. Blend until smooth.
Pour into greased cake pans (we used two 8-inch rounds). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and cool the cakes completely. Invert the cakes onto a lipped plate (or cake stand with a lip) to catch any leakage. Poke holes all over the top of the cake with the tines of a fork. Set aside to pour the 3 milks mixture.
For the 3 milks (tres leches) mixture
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
- 1 7.5-ounce table cream (we used Nestle brand media crema)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla (we used Mexican vainilla)
In a large bowl, mix together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, table cream and vanilla. Stir until smooth. On each cake, spoon the milk mixture over the surface and allow it to seep into the cake. This is a gradual process so be patient. Continue until almost all of the milk mixture is used up. Refrigerate to set for at least half an hour before assembling and frosting the cake.
For the frosting
- 2 8-ounce tubs of Cool Whip
- 1 8-ounce block of cream cheese
- 6 tablespoons sugar
In a large bowl, mix the cheese with the sugar until creamy. Fold in the Cool Whip and blend until smooth and spreadable.
Frost the bottom layer of the cake by generously spreading frosting on the top of it, allowing some of the frosting to overflow to the sides. Carefully place the top layer of the cake on the frosting. Continue to frost the top and sides of the cake, smoothing it out with a spatula.
For the decorations
- Kiwi fruit, sliced
- Strawberries, sliced
- Pineapples, sliced
- Pecan nuts, chopped
Slice the fruits and chop the nuts. Stud the sides of the cake with the pecan pieces. Decorate the top of the cake with the fruits.
Pipe borders on the top and bottom edges of the cake with extra frosting. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
- Muchas gracias to Señora Eva G. for sharing her family’s recipe with us for our blog. Also thanks to Islander’s brother, Kahuna, for being the guest chef and preparing pastel de tres leches for this post.
- From-scratch white cakes may be used instead of one made from a box mix. Avoid “soft” cakes like angel food. Instead choose one that is sturdy enough to be able to absorb the milk mixture.
- Search our blog for more cake recipes.