Tres leches literally translates to three milks. The cupcakes (traditionally, a whole cake) are baked then soaked in a mixture of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream. Can you imagine the rich velvety texture? The incredible aroma? The surprising thing is how the cupcakes do not crumble or get soggy after all that soaking. Speedy and the girls loved these tres leches cupcakes. There was a huge to-do after the last piece was gone from the fridge and both girls were complaining about how they were only able to eat so few pieces. And I baked a total of 18 cupcakes.
Tres leches is said to be popular in many Latin American countries. Its origin is attributed to Mexico, a claim disputed by Nicaragua. Wherever it originated, it’s enough to know that it is absolutely delicious. The cupcakes are easy enough to make, the soaking part is a bit messy though. But that may be because it’s my first attempt at making tres leches. Perhaps, next time, I won’t spill so much milk on the kitchen island.
Making tres leches cupcakes is really quite simple. Bake the cupcakes and brush with a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream. Optionally, top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon. But this was the first time I made tres leches and I made a mess in the kitchen.
I baked a total of 18 but I think it would have been better if I had spread the batter over 24 molds so that the risen and baked cupcakes didn’t reach the brim. Some of them did and it made the brushing with milk part a bit difficult.
And… Patience has never been one of my virtues and I started POURING the milk mixture into the cupcakes instead of brushing. And pools formed around them. I was so convinced that I ruined everything. So I decided that before wasting any more time, and cupcakes, I might as well see first if what I had so far was edible. I took one cupcake — see the empty hole?
It was so delicious, I finished the it in less than three minutes. I was also very hungry. Stress makes me hungry. And I was stressed out because I was staring too much at the spilled milk all over the top of the kitchen island that I knew I’d have to clean up.
So I continued pouring the milk, little by little, until the cupcakes looked swollen and wouldn’t take any more liquid. That’s when I stopped and let the cupcakes cool. Everyone arrived, saw them, wanted to know if they could be eaten already and I told them the cupcakes were supposed to be topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with ground cinnamon first. Sam volunteered to take care of the whipped cream and I let her…
These are very rich and very tasty cupcakes. I’ve never really been a fan of sweetened condensed milk until lately. After baking these tres leches cupcakes and making Vietnamese iced coffee, I’m a convert.
Next time, I’ll bake the cake version of tres leches. I’ll take photos of the preparation of the batter. Consider these cupcakes as a teaser.
Based on a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.
Tres leches cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 325oF.Line muffin pans with waxed paper cups (available in baking supply stores).
Sift the flour.
With an electric mixer, over medium speed, beat the egg whites, baking soda and salt until soft peaks form (see stages in beating egg whites).
Lower the speed of the mixer and add the egg yolks and sugar. Continue mixing until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Add the butter, folding it in (I used a spatula). Then, mix in the flour in three or four batches, mixing by hand (carefully, so as not to break the precious air bubbles that will add volume to the cupcakes) until the mixture is well blended.
Pour the batter into the paper-lined muffin pans, filling them only a little halfway through. The cupcakes will rise tremendously during baking, trust me, and you don’t want the baked cupcakes to reach the brim of the paper cups for reasons that I will explain later.
Bake the cupcakes in a preheated 325F oven for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together the three milks.
While the cupcakes are warm, poke holes in them all the way to the bottom. I recommend a bamboo skewer.
Get your three milk mixture and brush it little by little on the tops of the cupcakes. Wait for the cupcakes to absorb the milk before brushing again. Continue brushing until all the milk mixture has been absorbed by the cupcakes.
Top the cupcakes with whipped cream. Dust with ground cinnamon. Serve and enjoy!