Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tres Leches Cake or A Little Slice of Heaven, you decide!

Okay, so I'm back with a recipe for Tres Leches Cake that I promise will knock the zapatos off anyone who eats it.  I used the Spanish word for shoes, because I don't know the Spanish word for socks and I am way too lazy to look it up, even on El Google.  For a long time, I searched the land, far and wide, for a decent Tres Leches Cake recipe.  Oh yes, I had tried others, but they all came out soggy and soupy and slushy and a myriad of other adjectives that start with "s" and end in "y".  Alas, it seemed I would never find Tres Leches Cake nirvana.  

Then one day, about a year ago, I happened to be perusing the magazine rack at my local (dreaded) WalMart.  I picked up a publication with which I was not familiar called Taste of the South.  It was a thin magazine, but the pics were glossy and pretty, and the food looked tasty, so I gave it a good thumbing through.  The featured Southern city that month was Memphis, so I paused to take a closer look.  One of the pages featured a brief write-up regarding The Peabody Hotel.  I was familiar with this hotel from a previous visit to Memphis many moons ago, so I paused to read it.  Low and behold, there it was.  A recipe for Tres Leches Cake shared by the chef of the fancy schmancy restaurant located in the hotel, Chez Philippe.  I glanced through it and it looked pretty solid, so I bought the magazine and took it home to give the recipe a test ride.  The only component that seemed to require a bit of effort was a sabayon sauce.  Something with which I was not familiar.

I have to tell you, this recipe is a keeper.  If I need to impress someone, this is my "go to" dessert.  It is as stunning to look at, as it is delicious to eat.  The cake is easy to make and I am proud to say that I can now make sabayon in my sleep.  Sometimes I make the sabayon without the cake and just serve it over grilled angel food with berries.  Originally, I was tempted to forego the sabayon, but let me assure you...if you take the time to make it, you will be rewarded with a look of surprise and admiration from all who have the pleasure of partaking of this decadent creation.  JUST DO IT and I promise you will be placed on the cake baking Hall of Fame pedestal.

The starring players.

This journey begins with egg whites beaten to stiff peaks.

But, wait!  Their yolky counterparts want in on the action, too.

Gently fold the flour in to maintain the light airiness of the batter.

Into the pan.  Note all of the fabulous air bubbles.  

Ahhh, the headliners!  Please give up a big round of applause for the Three Amigos aka Three Milks.  

Be sure you have your Dia de los Muertos trivet close at hand.  A regular trivet will do until you round up one of these.  

Do not over bake!  The cake will appear a very pale golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

Don't let the cake cool!  Immediately ladle your combined milks over the hot cake.  You might be skeptical that the cake will be able to accommodate all of the liquid, but it will.  

Within minutes, the cake will absorb all of the milks.  The divot in the middle is my fault because I became impatient with ladling and actually dumped the remaining milk onto the cake.  Don't do this.  

Time for sabayon!  Have your ice bath handy.

I replace the port with orange juice and this gives the sauce a light citrus flavor.  Whisk the ingredients continuously over a double boiler until ribbons fall from the whisk when lifted.  This will take approximately 20-30 mins to attain.

It's really hard to capture the ribbons falling while holding the camera with one hand and the whisk with the other.  

Into the ice bath, we go!  Whisk until completely cooled.  Sauce will thicken.  Look at those ribbons now!

Beat one cup of heavy whipping cream and fold into the mixture in thirds.

NICE!!!  Now the cake and the sauce can go into the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Whatever's convenient.

Once the cake is chilled it takes on almost a custard texture.  The fruit lightens the dish and the sauce makes your eyes roll back in your head.  Seriously.  
Mmmmm...this is my hand selected piece.  Hey, I made it!  I get first dibs!  ;D

This post is a little picture heavy.  I apologize for that.  I hope you'll try this recipe.

Tres Leches Cake with Sabayon  -  printable recipe
8 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

1 1/4 pounds fresh berries (I like a combination of blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries)
4 tablespoons of sugar (add more or less depending on your preference)

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice (recipe calls for port, but I make this substitution)
1 cup unsweetened whipped cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease and flour a 13x9x2 backing dish.
2.  For cake, in a bowl, beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
    add egg yolks and continue beating until fully incorporated.  With mixer running, gradually add sugar.
3.  Fold flour into egg mixture.  Transfer batter to prepared cake pan, smoothing top to level.
4.  Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 20 mins.
    Do not over bake.
5.  Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine whipping cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk, stirring
    well to blend.  When cake is done, immediately pour combined milks over the hot cake.  Let cool, then 
    refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  
6.  For berries: 1 hour before serving, slice berries  and toss with sugar.
7.  For sabayon, combine egg yolks, sugar, and orange juice in the top of a double boiler over simmering 
    water.  Do not let bowl touch water.  Whisk until very thick or until ribbons form.  Whisk over an 
    ice bath to cool.  Sabayon should thicken further at this point.  Fold in whipped cream.  Refrigerate 
    until serving time.  Sabayon can be made a day ahead.


  1. This looks too hard but I want to try it!! Zero calories, right? I thought that sabayon had to be made in a copper bowl for some reason. You make everything look so simple and your photos are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing a treasured recipe!

  2. Wow! This is absolutely gorgeous, Cheryl and I'm so excited to have pictures and such to add to the recipe you sent me.

    Do you think it would still be good without the sabayon? I'm freaked out about all the calories - we're making 52 cakes so I need to trim where I can :-)

    Food blogging is hard. Your post ended up gorgeous but it's always such a struggle with lighting, getting excited and forgetting to take pictures...

    Pinning this.

  3. No pictures of you whipping the cream by hand...I guess your stunt whisker had the day off. :-P

    This is one of my favorite cakes that you make.

  4. Wow these look so tasty. Hate to be a party pooper, but what are the calories per serving and how many does the recipe say it serves. Thanks for sharing. This looks wonderful.

  5. OMG, Cheryl!!! Each time I visit you I put on a kilo, come on now!!!LOL.

    Seriously, you had me at sweetened condensed milk.

    This is fabulous.

    Michelle :-)

    P.S. are you aware that you have word verification on? Just checking in case you weren't.