There is a lot of speculation as to where Tres Leches Cake (Cake in Three Milks) originated. A quick search online will produce a myriad of answers (I'll wait while you search). Back? See, what did I tell you! The first time I had Tres Leches was at my in-laws, who happen to be Nicaraguan, and at around that time Tres Leches started to appear on the Miami food scene. This happened to coincide with the (mass) immigration of Nicaraguans to Miami in the early 80's - so my biased conclusion - it's a Nicaraguan dessert! If you've never had Tres Leches Cake, it's basically a sponge or yellow cake that is soaked in three milks; heavy cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk and then topped with a thick, creamy meringue. To say that this dessert is sinfully rich and delicious is an understatement. I wanted to make a more portable, not as "soaked" version, of this creamy cake, I also wanted it to have a bit of a "kick" in the form of a little rum (okay, a lot of rum). So after a few tries, my Drunken Tres Leches Cupcakes were born. I don't like a mushy cake and the batter that I use in both the cupcake and cake version stands up very well to soaking. The texture and mouthfeel are perfect - not too dry and definitely not mushy. As to the rum, use a good quality rum and if you've never tried Nicaraguan rum, give Flor de Caña a try, it's become one of my favorite rums. Putting this decadent dessert into a cupcake makes it way more appealing for on the go eating or just all around anytime eating!
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
6 eggs + 3 egg yolks, set aside the egg whites for the meringue.
2/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line cupcake pan with foil lined cupcake cups. Foil lined cups hold up much better to the soaking process than regular paper cups, which tend to get very soggy.
Sift all the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder and salt, into a large bowl (or on wax paper if you don't want another bowl to clean up). Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy, then beat in eggs, one at a time. Add in the remaining wet ingredients, milk and vanilla. Incorporate the flour mixture in three batches to allow the ingredient to blend properly.
The batter should be smooth. Pour into cupcake cups, about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, half way through the baking time rotate pan for even baking.
The three milks and the rum:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup evaporated milk
1cup sweetened condensed milk
12 tablespoons rum
Mix all the milks together in a sauce pan and heat. Do not boil, you just want to heat it through. Set aside. Rum use comes later.
For the meringue:
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of rum (YES, more rum!)
Place sugar and rum in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Keep very warm.
To a squeaky, clean bowl add eggs whites, vanilla and cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form, then with the mixer still on, slowly add in the sugar-rum and beat until creamy and glossy.
Once the cupcakes are done and hot out of the oven, it's time to fill them with the rum and the milks.
- Remove the domed top with a serrated knife from each cupcake. Set aside the tops**.
- Spoon over top of each cupcake 1 tablespoon of rum. Allow to rest 2 minutes.
- Using a turkey injector, without the needle, gently and slowing fill each cupcake with an full injector (roughly 1/4 cup) of the warm milks. Allow to rest 5 minutes. Repeat two more times. The second time you will use a 1/2 injector full (1/8 cup) and the third time a 1/4 injector full (1/16 of a cup) for each cupcake. Allow a 5 minute rest period between fillings. Make sure to move the injector around as you fill the cupcakes, this ensures every part of the cake will get soaked.
Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost with a thick coat of meringue**.
So what do you do with 12 domed cupcake tops? How about making a trifle, using them to sandwich a small scoop of ice cream in between two tops, or simply have them with your morning coffee.
If you find you have left over milk, don't throw it out. Use it to serve along with the cupcakes to dunk OR use it in your coffee for a super decadent treat.
I am not a big fan of meringue and will usually leave a few without any meringue on them just for me. Feel free to do the same, if you aren't a meringue fan.
And of course, if you prefer to abstain from alcohol, leave it out.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Ingredients are all the same, just place batter into a floured and greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until it is golden. Allow to cool enough that you can handle the cake. Take out of the pan and using a serrated knife trim off all 4 edges (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch), this allows maximum absorption.
Place cake back into the pan and using a fork, poke holes all over the top of cake. Slowly pour the milk (and rum, if using) over the cake. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight or 8 hours.
Prepare meringue and spread evenly over top of cake.