Here’s one that various readers have been after me about for quite some time. What is a “tres leches” cake? It literally means “three milks” in Spanish. Frequently a combination of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream, those milks are combined into a sort of syrup that’s brushed onto the cake before it’s frosted. Actually, “brushed on” isn’t quite accurate since the cake is literally soaked in the stuff. What keeps the whole thing from turning into a wet, soggy mess? The fact that the cake portion is made from a firm génoise, which can absorb a huge amount of liquid and somehow remain standing. I have an uncle like that.
I think of tres leches cake as a Latino version of flourless chocolate cake. Of course it has no chocolate in it, but it’s flat, dense and rich. One single-layer 9″ tres leches can easily serve a dozen people as a dessert course.
I haven’t had a good tres leches cake since the missus and I left Chicago seven years ago. Having such a robust Mexican population, the kind of tres leches cake that’s favored there has dulce de leche — a kind of caramel made from a mixture of goat and cow milk — mixed into the syrup. I’m feeling a bit wistful for the old home town today, so that’s what I think I’ll do. I suppose that will make it technically a four, even five milks cake, but why get hung up on semantics? Let’s have at it.