This week a friend of mine from work shared some wonderful news with me, and as my own form of congratulations I wanted to make her something special 😍 I remembered when she first started working with us there was one day where, completely unplanned, we both brought Tres Leches cake in to work. After we were finished laughing and shaking our heads, we sampled each others masterpieces and declared our love of Tres Leches! No matter who makes it, there’s something magical that happens when you soak a vanilla cake with different kinds of milk and top it with whipped cream. The only problem in a busy workplace is having enough plates, forks, spoons, and napkins to accompany this messy mass of yumminess. That’s why I decided to take that magic and transform it into a cupcake. I mean… look at this deliciousness:
No really… click on that image, make it larger, and really get a good look…can you see just how moist that cake is? There are more than a few people who have looked at me sideways for serving them a “wet” cake. There have definitely been a few times I’ve had to explain that, yes, it’s supposed to be that way – Tres Leches literally translates to “Three Milks” and uses a combo of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk or heavy cream. They may start out confused or unsure, but once they take a bite, and really savor all the flavors, they always come back for more 😉
Let’s start with a pretty basic vanilla cupcake recipe. For this recipe I used a lighter, oil based recipe instead of a denser, butter based one so that the final result would soak up the liquid but stay nice and fluffy. I also recommend sturdier foil liners, so that the milk doesn’t soak the liners and leave the cupcake in a puddle. Once your cupcakes are done baking, leave them in the pan and poke holes in them to prepare them for the milks.
Whisk your three milks thoroughly, and once your cupcakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, slowly start adding your milk to each cupcake until each one has absorbed about 3 teaspoons. I like to leave the cupcakes in the pan during this process and also while refrigerating so that they keep their shape in the liners – sometimes when a cupcake gets too wet the liner will start to open or pull away.
Refrigerate the cupcakes for at least an hour. My preference is overnight so they really soak up all the liquid and absorb all of its flavor throughout the cake. Top your cupcakes with whipped cream (here’s my favorite stabilized whipped cream that won’t fall flat on you), a dash of your favorite spice, and cherries for a more traditional presentation or come up with your own flavor combos. These cakes have such a sweet, creamy, vanilla flavor that they go with anything – roll them in toasted coconut, top them with walnuts, or add some cocoa powder into your whipped cream to really change it up ❤
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12oz can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla on medium low for about 30 seconds.
- On medium low, alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk just until all ingredients are incorporated, do not over mix
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 14-17 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed
- Let your cupcakes cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. While they are cooling, poke holes in the cupcakes using a toothpick, kebab skewer, fork or whatever else you may have available 🙂
- Whisk your three milks together in a medium bowl and slowly add a teaspoon at a time to each cupcake until they have each soaked up approximately 3 teaspoons.
- Refrigerate your cupcakes in the pan for at least an hour, or leave overnight for maximum deliciousness
- Top your cupcake with whipped cream (see my stabilized whipped cream recipe linked in the post above) and cherries and enjoy!
- These cupcakes must be refrigerated and are best eaten within 3-4 days of making.
- Add a decorative touch with toasted or regular coconut flakes or dust lightly with cocoa powder, cinnamon, or your favorite spice.
- For an adult version, replace some of the milk in the soaking liquid with dark rum, yum!!