Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tres Leches Cake with Berries

I must have been living under a rock or something, because I'd never had tres leches up until this summer. I'd also only heard about it a few times. This dessert is rich and moist and absolutely perfect for any summer occasion. You can make many different versions of this cake, but I loved the idea of berries covering the cake. The original recipe adds some booze to the whipped cream, but I opted against it since I'm not a gin or tequila fan. One of the recipe reviewers said they added a splash of Grand Marnier to their whipped cream, which is something  I will try in the future. When I was going to make this, I was deciding between a coffee infused version or the berries, but in the end the berries won. Although I cannot be sure, the coffee flavored cake seemed like it would have a tiramisu sort of flavor and I was up for something new.

I made this for the first time at my sister's house. There was no particular reason for me making this cake except that I really wanted to try it, and so did she. My family and I ate about a quarter of the cake and then my sister took the rest to work the following day where it was apparently devoured in minutes. She said she set it down in the break room and by lunch time it was all gone. You might be wondering why I would share such a delicious dessert. For starters, even though it is amazing, it's very rich and you'd be suffering from a serious food coma if you had seconds. And I love sharing things that I bake, assuming they turn out well.

If you are curious about some of the different tres leches cake flavors you can make, check out this link from Fine Cooking Magazine.

Recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine

For the Cake:
Unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour 
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder 
1/4 tsp. kosher salt 
5 large eggs, at room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1/3 cup whole milk 
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the Soaking Liquid:
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk 
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
Pinch kosher salt

For the Topping:
2-1/2 cups heavy cream 
3 Tbs. gin or tequila or Grand Marnier (optional)
2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar 
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
2 cups raspberries 
2 cups sliced strawberries 
1 tsp. finely grated lemon or lime zest

Place your oven rack in the center and preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C.

Butter a 9" x 13" Pyrex or non-reactive metal baking dish. Line the bottom with parchment paper (trust me, you'll be glad you did this) and butter the paper as well.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Separate your eggs, putting the yolks in a big bowl and the whites in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the yolks with 3/4 cup sugar at medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes. Pour in the milk and vanilla and mix until combined, about a minute.

Clean off your electric mixer. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the last 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites in a steady flow until the eggs are firm, but not dry (about 1 to 2 minutes on high speed).

Whisk 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the yolk mixture. Mix until well combined. Gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites mixture. Fold the remaining dry ingredients and egg whites into the mixture, alternately, in 2 more batches.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once baked, allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Invert the cake on the rack, remove the parchment paper, and allow it to cool completely (I put mine back into the Pyrex for this step).

To prepare the soaking liquid, mix together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan until the condensed milk is combined. Cook over medium-low heat, mixing often, until bubbles form on the outer edges, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a 4-cup measuring cup.

Using a toothpick, begin pricking the cake in 1/2" intervals. The cake will be covered in little holes. Slowly pour the soaking liquid over the cake. Start at the edges and allow the liquid to absorb before adding more. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in your fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Prepare the topping for the cake by whipping the heavy cream in a large bowl. When the cream starts to thicken, add the booze (if using), sugar, and vanilla. Beat until the cream hold firm peaks. Spread the cream over the cake as evenly as you can. In a bowl, toss the berries and zest. Spoon the berries over the cream and serve.
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