Spoon or fork required.
These are so good I am personally writing a strongly worded letter to everyone I know to question why they aren't all doing my evil bidding for me in exchange for these treats.
Tres leches cake (three milks; condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream) is eaten widely throughout Mexico, Central and Southern American. Countries squabble about it's true origin. Honestly? I don't care where it's from. It's my favorite cake. I'm not even sure when i first discovered it, since my mom (who does NOT bake) never made it growing up. But I am glad i did. And it's been on my list of things to try to bake myself FOREVER.
I think last year I googled recipes and got discouraged because people complained about how hard and messy it was. They take a long time, yes... but they weren't that bad. And they came out fantastic! Worth it.
For the cake, I adapted this recipe. The biggest substitution I made to the cupcakes was that I did NOT use coconut milk. MEXICANS DONT USE COCONUT MILK. That's all. =x
Spongey Vanilla Cake
350*, Makes 15
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1.Cream butter and sugar until fluffy on medium speed. Add egg yolks Add vanilla, mix to combine.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a seperate bowl.
3. Add dry flour mixture with the buttermilk to the creamed butter beginning and ending with the flour.
4.In a small bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into rest of batter.
One important note here. Regular cupcake liners will NOT do for this project. You will need either silicon liners, or a stack of foil liners like these.
At first when these were cooking and first came out of the oven I thought I had somehow messed it up somehow because they were so pourous. But then i realized that that is kind of the point. They need to be able to absorb and retain a lot of moisture. Which is why regular liners will not do. They will leak through -- and that's how you end up with a messy kitchen.
Let your cupcakes cool for a few minutes but then begin poking them with a toothpick as soon as you take them out of the pan. Just go to town, making sure to get the sides. TRY not to make holes in the liner though.
Now they are ready for the "three milks" part of the cake. You can make this beforehand.
Tres Leches Sauce
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons rum
Take one tablespoon of the mixture and spoon it over the cupcake. At first, it will puddle on the top.
Just in case it is slow going and won't go down, feel free to pole more holes with your toothpick.
In a minute or two, the cake should absorb the mixture.
Once you see that there is no more liquid on top, repeat this step. Add another tablespoon of liquid to the cupcakes. (So two tablespoons total.)
When you finish, there should not be any big puddles but you should be able to cleary see that the cake is being soaked.
I put mine on a cookie sheet and covered them with saran wrap and then put them in the fridge overnight. You should let them sit in the fridge at least 3-4 hours, if not overnight.
The next morning, I ate one. Haha. Yeah they are yummy by this point. In any case, check one. I added another teaspoon (NOT tablespoon) to each of them and let them sit for five minutes.
Then it was time for the yummy cajeta.
Cajeta in simple terms is just caramel. Mexican caramel often compared or substituted for dulce de leche. The difference between the two is that Cajeta is a regional caramel from the Mexican states of Guanajuato and Jalisco. My mom is from Jalisco and I have fond memories of cajeta while vacationing in my early years. The word caja means box and is how the caramel is traditionally housed. It's also made from goat, not from cow. Recipes call for the addition of vanilla/vanilla beans which makes it quite distinct from caramel sauce. You taste the difference. You can buy it premade at the Mexican grocery store (but from cows) nowadays. (If you don't have a Mexican grocery store, across from the Asian Market of course, then I urge you to move. Real talk.) In any case, we always have some in the fridge and so I felt it was necessary that it be included in this recipe.
It's thick and delicious. I can eat spoonfuls of this stuff.
I took a spoon and drizzled the top of each cupcake with it.
Then I got the topping ready. Combined with the cajeta, I think it's what makes these truly Mexican.
The topping is simply cinnamon mixed in with grated Mexican hot chocolate bars. To make hot chocolate, Mexicans use these bars that are a mixture of cocoa and cinnamon and other fun bits. (The picture on top shows a broken bar. They come in rounds, and you break them into triangular pieces. Popular brands are Nestle's Abuelita and Ibara.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Mexican hot chocolate triangle, grated
Set this aside and get ready for the frosting. Because the cake is so sweet the frosting on tres leches cakes are typically very light. Very light.
I used this classic recipe:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a chilled bowl, mix cold ingredients on high until stiff peaks form.
Frost cupcakes. Sprinkle your topping over the frosting. Get ready for yumminess in your mouth...