Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche


Tres leches — "three milks" in Spanish — is an immensely popular dessert throughout Latin America. The sweet (dulce) cream-soaked cake is one of Sue Torres' favorite ways to end a Mexican meal. Although the cake can be served right away, she says it's even better the next day. "Just be careful to cover it well," she says. "The cake will absorb any odors in your refrigerator." The rich, cinnamon-flavored dulce de leche is worth the effort, but packaged dulce de leche can be substituted.

Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
14 hrs
9 servings



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 6 large eggs, separated

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 (12-ounce) can whole evaporated milk

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup light rum

  • Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche

  • 1 quart whole milk

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon dark corn syrup

  • ½ small cinnamon stick


Make the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar at medium speed until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Beat the egg whites and the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture until smooth.

  2. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  3. In a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, whisk the condensed milk with the evaporated milk, heavy cream, and rum. Cut the cake into 3-inch squares and add them to the baking dish, turning gently once or twice. Tilt the dish and spoon the liquid over the squares until well-soaked, about 5 minutes. Pour off all but a thin layer of the liquid and reserve for another use. Cover and refrigerate the cakes overnight.

Make the Dulce de Leche

  1. In a large, heavy pot, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is reduced to 2 cups and is the consistency of warm caramel, about 40 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and let the dulce de leche cool to room temperature.

  2. Transfer the dulce de leche to a blender and puree until smooth. Skim off the foam and transfer to a pitcher.

Serve the Cake

  1. Carefully transfer the squares to plates. Drizzle with the dulce de leche and serve.

Make Ahead

The dulce de leche can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The tres leches cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.

Related Articles