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Cuban Tres Leches Cake recipe - How to Make Three Milks Cake

courtesy of the Cocina Cubana Club founded by Pascual Perez & Sonia Martinez


Cuban tres leches cake

When and where this dessert was created is a mystery, but there's no denying that it is a popular treat in Cuba and other Latin American countries. Its name (three milks) comes from the use of cream, evaporated and condensed milk in its preparation. Yields 8-10 servings.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes

  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Cake Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Milk Syrup Ingredients:

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp light rum

Meringue Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3 egg whites


Preheat oven to 350oF. Generously butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

CAKE: Beat 3/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and firm, but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the buttered baking dish.

Bake the cake until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. Unmold unto a large, deep platter*. Pierce the cake all over with a fork, taking care to not tear it up.

MILK SYRUP: Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla and rum in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well blended. Pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top, until it is all absorbed.

MERINGUE: Place 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a heavy saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Uncover pan and cook the sugar to the soft ball stage, 239oF on a candy thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes.


Meanwhile beat the egg whites to soft peaks with the cream of tartar. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating to stiff peaks. Pour the boiling sugar syrup in a thin stream into the stiff egg whites and continue beating until the mixture is cool to the touch. The hot syrup "cooks" the egg whites.

Using a wet spatula, spread the top and sides of the cake with a thick layer of the meringue. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving.

Not low-cal by any means, but well worth the effort! Yields 8-10 servings

*I don't have a large, deep platter appropriate for this, so I use a jelly roll pan that I line with foil and try to be careful when I pour the milk syrup not to get it all over the place.

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