Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

Welcome to day #3 of Christmas Week, a multi-blogger event co-hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen of Juanita’s Cocina. Today’s theme for Christmas Week is “Christmas Cakes and Cupcakes”. Make sure you visit all the participating bloggers today to see what special dish they whipped up for you.

One of my favorite cakes of all time is Cafe Latte's Turtle Cake. You know the one--a rich chocolate cake topped with  chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, and plenty of toasted pecans. Cafe Latte is located in St. Paul, MN., and I have been lucky enough to have had the original Turtle Cake. To. Die. For. What's really cool, is that everyone can make this Turtle Cake at home, since Cafe Latte shared the recipe with the public several years ago. I'll admit it--it was my favorite cake--until I met Cafe Latte's Tres Leches Cake.....

My favorite cake--until I met the Tres Leches Cake...

Tres Leches Cake, literally "three milks" cake, is just that. A spongy vanilla cake soaked with a mixture of cream and sweetened condensed milk, then topped with whipped's like eating clouds. Vanilla clouds. Whereas the Turtle cake is dense and rich, the Tres Leches cake is light The only problem? There was no recipe. This one was not shared with the public. I was pretty sure the secret was locked in a vault. Oh sure, recipes for Tres Leches cake are everywhere...but not that one. Cafe Latte brilliantly shared the Turtle Cake Recipe, lured me in, tempted me with the Tres Leches Cake, and then kept it a secret. Or so they thought.

The other day, I did another quick search of the Internet for the recipe and there it was! The caption definitely made reference to Cafe Latte, but on closer inspection, the recipe actually came from someone named Joe. Now, whether Joe really had his hands on Cafe Latte's recipe (could Joe, or Joe's wife, be an employee?), I don't know. I do know that whoever wrote down the ingredients must have halved the recipe. It was all good though-- and with a little tweaking--dare I say it?--I made a Cafe Latte Tres Leches Cake!

Tres Leches Cake (inspired by Cafe Latte, adapted from Joe's Email)
Printable Recipe

Cake Layer:
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Soaking Liquid:
1/2 of a (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 tsp vanilla

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Raspberries or Sugared Cranberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan (using an 8" rather than a 9" pan will make it easier to split in half).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Slowly add the buttermilk, mixing until well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and cool for at least ten minutes before removing from pan. Carefully, cut the cake in half, horizontally. Place each half sliced side up on a rack to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and the half/half. Slowly pour the liquid over each half of the cake. Cover and chill for several hours.

When ready to assemble the cake, whip the cream until stiff, adding the powdered sugar. Place one of the cake halves on a serving plate, cut side up. Spread whipped cream over the top of the cake layer, and then top with the second cake half. Frost the top and the sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream. Garnish with raspberries or sugared cranberries, if desired.   

Can you believe how easy this is? Just whip up the cake in a large bowl....

You can see from the indent that I used one of those pans with the whatchamacallit scrape thing on the bottom. It made getting the cake out in one piece really easy. 

Don't the cranberries make it look all holiday-like?

Making the sugared cranberries is a piece of cake. HeHe. Simply bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a simmer (make sure the sugar is dissolved, but don't boil...simmer). Place 1-2 cups of fresh cranberries in a bowl. Pour the hot sugar/water over the cranberries. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.

When the cranberries are chilled, drain the liquid (save it, if you use simple syrup in your drinks), and roll the cranberries in fine sugar. Let them dry on a cookie sheet for at least one hour.

Store extra cranberries in an airtight container.


  1. I believe I may be in love...even without those cranberries! ;) Happy day #3!

  2. Love the first picture! What an exceptionally beautiful cake! :)

  3. What a gorgeous cake! I can just imagine how it danced on your taste buds. Moist, sweet, delicious.

  4. SO beautiful! And I love the cranberry garnish :) This is one of Katie's favorite cakes, and I've never found the perfect recipe...till today.

    PS...yes, you can use Creme Bouquet in your cakes in place of the vanilla. I think you can replace with the same amount, but I'd start off with half.

  5. Tres Leches IS my favorite cake...and my most requested one (to cater). My recipe is much different, though...I need to give this one a try. You know, for the sake of comparison ;P Yummy!

  6. Holy snikeys lady, this is incredible. Love the cranberries for the festive look. I am dying to try the turtle recipe as well. It's like my kryptonite.

  7. And maybe you're Really Sherlock Holmes . . . thanks for cracking the code. I was thinking of eating clouds! (Love the sugared cranberries for Christmas!)

    1. Ha--imagine Sherlock Holmes with the Internet! :) Whoever Joe is, I thank him for the email he sent to the right person...

  8. Tres Leches is on my list of things to make some time - this looks gorgeous and festive!

  9. Yummy! I need to try it, I´ve never found the perfect recipe, it looks swwet and delicious, mmm!

  10. Do you know what they add or change when Cafe Latte makes their Tres Leches Salted Carmel cake? We are also huge fans of the place, but I'm not sure what they do to make the other version.

    1. Salted Caramel? Holy cow, that sounds good! I haven't had it, but we have a rep. at work who's wife makes these cakes for Cafe Latte. Let me see if I can get any info. out of him...I will keep you posted. :)

  11. Do you have the recipe for that delish looking turtle cake? ;)

  12. I made this today and it was a hit! I added the juice from unthawed raspberries to the milk soak mix and then added the berries to the middle layer! It was AMAZING! Thank you!