Have I ever told you guys about the biggest disaster to befall La Cocina No. 10? Because it’s a good time to do that. It’s a good time to do that because I have redeemed myself. If you don’t care about that one incident in which I nearly poisoned people–and I completely understand–scroll on for the recipe.
See, a while ago I had a boozy cakes-themed cookbook around, which I won’t mention by name, and which had a recipe for a rum-loaded tres leches cake. Naturally, my brain jumped for joy a little. If you’re already soaking a cake in something, why would you NOT include alcohol? (This is also why I swap water in any braise/stew/soup recipe with beer or wine. It hasn’t steered me wrong and I recommend it, just as a general life strategy.)
Anyhow–the idea was brilliant. The recipe, however, called for one cup of rum. Full eight fluid ounces of pirate-fightin’ wench juice! To clarify, the cake was not foosball-table-sized, so… I think you know how this turned out. Although I only post here what I love and can’t wait to share with you, I make a lot of not-great food. I make a lot of just-okay-nothing-special food. But this was inedible (although my company–close company, but still company–ate it anyway, bless their hearts).
What a lesson in trusting one’s instincts, guys. When you know somethin’ about somethin’, your judgment is most important, no matter the source telling you otherwise. You’re well aware that 2+2=4, etc.
…Back to cake before I get too Orwellian on you. The good news is: here’s your correct answer to the rum-spiked tres leches cake problem. Perfectly moist, perfectly boozy at a noticeable, reasonable, delicious 2 ounces of liquor.
I actually used cachaca instead of rum–they’re very similar, and I’m crushing rather hard on Novo Fogo cachaca lately. If you have something you love drinking, use it here. It makes a huge difference.
The cake itself is sponge; we whip egg whites separately into an impossibly airy fluffiness, then fold them in.
I’m a big fan of baking this in a springform pan instead of the traditional 9×13 dish. Round, tall cake is just more festive, more worthy of centerpiece/celebration cake status, as opposed to a casual barbecue dessert. DIVA CAKE. Nevermind that I actually took this to a casual barbecue… Always overdress, I say, and that goes for the food, too.
It shrinks and pulls away from the edges as it cools–I left the springform bottom on, and that’s why it’s a little tapered. If that bothers you, free it from there sooner, before cooling. This thing is not very fragile.
The springform bottom is useful because it lets you soak the cake like this.
Allowing excess milk mixture to escape means your cake will only “drink” as much as it wants to. No soggy hot messes here.
As for the topping, raspberries are an excellent substitution if mango isn’t your jam. I’m not just guessing, either–this thing took a bit of a spill on my counter before we made it to our final destination. It needed a new hat, so to speak… Improvisations were made en route, and at my hosts’ kitchen.
It’s almost as if the universe doesn’t want tres leches cake and I to get along. You know what, though? We’ve been through so much together, this cake and I. We’re unstoppable. All that’s left to do is duet to “Islands In the Stream” at karaoke, get buffalo wings afterwards, and grow old together.
Thanks for reading Our Story, and happy weekend to you!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup milk
- 12 ounces (1 can) evaporated milk
- 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup rum (I actually used cachaca, which is very similar)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups diced fresh mango (1-2 mangoes)
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
- 1 tablespoon sugar (more or less, depending on how sweet your mango is)
- 1 tablespoon rum (or cachaca)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 10-inch springform pan by buttering or spraying with baking spray.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar the mixture is pale yellow (1-2 minutes). Mix in the milk and vanilla. Slow down mixer to lowest speed and beat in the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Set mixture aside and clean mixer beaters thoroughly.
- In another large bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, then gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat just until egg whites can hold stiff peaks (don't overbeat--they shouldn't be dry and crumbly-looking).
- Gently fold egg white mixture into the batter until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and even the surface.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes or so on a rack, then remove the edge of the springform pan to cool completely.
- Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk, and rum (or cachaca).
- Pierce the cooled cake all over with a skewer and place it (it should still be on the springform bottom) over a plate to catch excess milk mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture, getting all the way to the edges, until cake doesn't absorb it readily anymore (you should have about a cup left over).
- Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, prepare the topping: whip the heavy cream with sugar until stiff peaks form. To make the mango-mint topping, rub sugar and mint together until fragrant and toss with mango and rum (or cachaca).
- When cake is done absorbing the milk mixture, frost the top with whipped cream and arrange the mango-mint mixture on top. If not serving immediately, keep it refrigerated.