Luxurious Trés Leches Cake

It’s August in Austin, Texas, so it’s hot, hot hot. Late afternoons mean prickly, dry skin and the desire to chug gallons of water while lying nearly naked and immobile on the couch.

Our freezer is stocked with frozen yogurt and Bomb Pops, but sometimes I just want a cold treat that’s a little different — still cool, but soft.

tres-lechesEnter trés leches cake. The origins of this sweet confection are mysterious, but according to the Austin Chronicle, the standard dessert consists of:

“A vanilla-flavored sponge cake drenched with a mixture of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream, and then frosted with whipped cream or meringue.”

The flavors are rich, caramel-y and luxurious. It’s sweet, oh my yes, but that just makes it all the better for pairing with iced coffee or unsweetened iced tea. The cake absorbs the fluids so it feels like biting into a juicy slice of cool watermelon.

The recipe has multiple steps, and total time is about 2 hours, but 2/3 of that is cake resting time. I made this on a weekday after work. My husband took a piece and devoured it with a note of awe: “I didn’t mean to eat it that fast. I just couldn’t stop.”

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup sour cream – I used light sour cream
1 – 3.4 oz box pudding mix – I used coconut cream flavor as it adds coconut flakes to the cake, but vanilla or cheesecake would work too)
2 eggs plus one egg yolk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk – I used unsweetened Silk

Milk Glaze 
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup milk – I used 2%, but anything from skim to half-and-half works

Whipped Topping
1 cup whipping cream/heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS granulated or powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan, preferably glass.

2. In a stand mixer or with a hand beater, mix all 6 cake ingredients for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. The batter will be thick because of the pudding.

3. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and cake top springs back at the touch. Let cool completely – or mostly. I don’t do well with waiting.

4. Use a fork to poke holes in the top of the cake. Whisk the 3 milk glaze ingredients together and pour over the top of the cake. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

5. Combine the 3 topping ingredients and whip with an immersion blender or hand mixer until soft peaks form. You can double the ingridients for a thicker topping, but I only had about a cup of cream and it worked out beautifully. Spread topping evenly on the cake.

6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. Overnight is probably better, but who has time for that? Use a sharp knife to cut and a spatula to lift out your piece of dripping golden goodness.

The sheet cake is luscious but plain. Next time I might go for a prettier version – two 8″ cake round layers. Then again, it’s so soft that perhaps all Texans already know that the sheet cake is structurally superior. Sounds like a good summer experiment to me.

When did you first try trés leches cake?

Recipe adapted from Tips from a Typical Mom .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s