I am generally not a lucky person; I remember when I was a little kid, the children’s chorister at church had each kid’s name on a tongue depressor and she needed a helper, she would pull out a stick and that kid would help her. Each time she went to pull out a stick, I hoped it would have my name on it. It never did. Somehow my name didn’t make it into the jar.
In middle school, if you were caught doing something good, you’d get a little slip of paper and could stick it in a box and each Friday, they’d pull names out and give each person whose name was drawn a dollar. Being a goody-goody, I had LOTS of slips in there and I never won. Not once.
At tennis and debate camp (quiet, allof you–I have very happy memories of debate camp!), I was the kid who wound up without a roommate. My husband won an iPod for buying his books at the school bookstore and all I got was an IOU for a book that hadn’t arrived yet.
But there was one time…one magical time that I ordered take out from our favorite Mexican restaurant. When I got home, I discovered a little foil pan of sweet goodness–this cake had luckily, MAGICALLY wound up in my bag. At that point in my life, I’d never eaten tres leches before, but I can guarantee you that it wasn’t the last time!
This recipe is great because I’ve included instructions for both a regular 9×13″ cake and cupcakes. They both have their pros and cons–the cake is easier and faster, but the cupcakes are easier to serve to a crowd. Also, if you need or want to make the whipped cream ahead of time, be sure to use this stabilized whipped cream!
When tres leches cake is made right, it’s perfectly decadent! This tres leches cake is topped with caramel whipped cream and fresh fruit and we promise, it doesn’t get better than this.
1 15.25-ounce box yellow cake mix
1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding
1 cup sour cream (full fat or reduced fat, but not fat free)
¾ cup cooking oil (canola or peanut)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
8 ounces evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 pint whipping cream, divided
¼ cup caramel sauce
sliced fresh fruit (strawberries are a traditional choice, but we love serving it with a variety of tropical fruit like strawberries, mangoes, and kiwi)
juice of 1 lime
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13” pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat together the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla and almond extracts for 2 minutes on medium speed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean). Allow to cool for about 20 minutes, then, use a bamboo skewer to poke several holes in the cake. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and 3/4 cup of whipping cream. Evenly pour the mixture over the cake. Cover and place the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, toss the sliced fruit with the lime juice and set aside. Beat the remaining 1 1/4 cup of whipping cream until medium peaks form. Gently fold in the caramel syrup. Top individual slices of cake with the caramel whipped cream and fruit slices.
If you want or need to make the whipped cream ahead of time, definitely make this stabilized whipped cream.
Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with FOIL cupcake liners (the foil is important to contain the milk mixture). Divide the batter evenly among the liners and then bake according to the directions on the box.
After cupcakes have cooled, use a bamboo skewer to poke several holes in each cupcake. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and 3/4 cup of whipping cream. Use a ladle to pour the milk mixture over each cupcake. There might be some runover. Such is life with tres leches cupcakes. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, beat the remaining 1 1/4 c. of whipping cream until medium peaks form. Gently fold in the caramel syrup and pipe or dollop the whipped cream on each of the cupcakes. If desired, toss the sliced fruit with the lime juice and top the cupcakes with the sliced fruit. Serve on a small plate with a dessert spoon.