This wonderfully easy, no bake Tres Leches cake is THE dessert you need on your Ramadan and Eid tables! It tastes like Rus Malai, allows you to enjoy everything the original Tres Leches cake has to offer, but with only 10% of the effort AND only five ingredients! And we all know we don't have the energy for complicated bakes in Ramadan. You won't believe the secret ingredient used to make this cake - keep on reading!
THE STORY BEHIND THIS RECIPE
We all know Tres Leches cake is one of the most superior cakes - you simply cannot resist the moist, soaked cake covered with light whipped cream. But making Tres Ceches is no easy feat, especially since the sponge cake can be quite technical. I, for one, never enjoy having to whip egg whites separately and then fold them in and be gentle and bla, bla.
Well, good thing I am solution oriented! When I was doing research for my upcoming cake baking course, I realized that the cake in Tres Leches is made using the same "biscuit" sponge that is used to make ladyfingers. Yes, the same ladyfingers we use in Tiramisu. Mind = blown!
I could not believe no one had thought of this before (at least not that I could find), it made perfect sense! So I put it to the test and was blown away. This tastes like the real deal! It's so good!
Oh, and, since I am a sucker for Rus Malai, I added cardamom powder instead of cinnamon powder, and that pretty much does the trick.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
This easy tres leches cake requires only FIVE ingredients (including an optional one)! Yes - you heard me right. You will find the exact quantities in the recipe card below, but let's do a quick overview here:
- Evaporated milk: I use Nestle Carnation, which is available everywhere. You will need one 12oz can
- Sweetened condensed milk: Again, I use Nestle! This makes the three milk mix a bit thicker and sweet, so you don't need sugar. I wish I could use an entire 14oz can to avoid waste, but it is just a bit too sweet for my liking, especially as ladyfingers are already on the sweeter side. So I use about ¾th of the can. Great thing is, you can taste the milk mixture and adjust however you please!
- Heavy cream: Use any heavy cream you can get your hands on. If you want, you can also just use milk. I always prefer cream as it is a bit thicker and richer. You will also whip up this same heavy cream to decorate the cake at the end!
- Cardamom powder: I love using Cardamom instead of cinnamon, as it imparts the beautiful Rus Malai flavor to the Tres Leches. But I know cardamom is not everyone's jam. If you definitely don't like it, just use cinnamon, or skip the spice altogether and add a little dash of vanilla. If you are cautiously optimistic about cardamom, add a very small amount and taste first, so you know how much more you want to add
- Ladyfingers: Use any packaged ladyfingers you can find easily. I use the ones from Savoiardi, which are made in Italy and therefore considered authentic. You will need 2 packs (24 each), though you won't use up all of them.
The exact quantity of ladyfingers you use will depend on the size of your dish and how soaked you want them to be! If you want the cake to be extra moist, go for about ~36 ladyfingers. It you want it to be just moist but not soggy, you can use up to 40.
To decorate, I used freeze dried strawberries (freeze dried fruit is so great for decoration! It's dry but tastes great, can be crushed, and adds a wonderful pop of color), and chopped pistachios. But use whatever you want (or don't)!
In order to make this cake, you will need:
- A large mixing bowl
- A hand whisk (or spoon - we don't need to mix much)
- A serving dish in which you will prepare the cake. I used a 7x11" ceramic serving dish. You can use any shape and size, but just make sure it can fit 36-40 ladyfingers in 2 layers
- Stand mixer or electric beater to whip cream
- Spatula to spread cream
- Piping bag, if piping!
HOW TO MAKE THIS NO BAKE TRES LECHES CAKE
Super duper easy - this cake requires <30 minutes of active time and some waiting (cooling) time in between. Check out this video for a tutorial:
Here is what you will need to do:
1. Make the three milk (Tres Leches) mix
Just mix the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and cardamom powder (optional) in a bowl. If you are adding cardamom, make sure you first add a teeny tiny amount, taste, and then add more if you want. You can use as little as a pinch!
2. Arrange and soak the first layer of ladyfingers
Instead of placing all your ladyfingers at once, I suggest doing this in two layers so we can make sure every ladyfinger gets properly soaked. Arrange one layer of ladyfingers in your dish, and make sure to pack them tightly. If you need, cut or trim some ladyfingers to fill any gaps.
Now, soak them with the milk mixture, ¼th cup at a time. You want to use almost half of the soak on this layer. It may look like a lot, but you will notice the ladyfingers will absorb most of the milk within minutes.
Tip: I recommend turning carefully flipping over the ladyfingers midway through the soaking process, to ensure both sides get equally soaked!
3. Arrange and soak the second layer of ladyfingers
Wait for 10-20 minutes to make sure the ladyfingers have absorbed most of the liquid. Then repeat the same exact process with the second layer of ladyfingers!
Tip: One thing I like to do is alternate the pattern of the second layer: so if the first layer has ladyfingers placed horizontally on the right, I will place them vertically in the second layer. This helps ensure there aren't any gaps or cracks in the cake slices eventually!
Now you just whack the dish into the fridge and forget about it for 2-3 hours. Because everyone wants chilled tres leches!
If you would rather get the decoration over with and then chill, I recommend waiting ~20 minutes so most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding whipped cream and decoration.
5. Decorate & serve!
Once your tres leches is properly chilled, the ladyfingers will have absorbed all the liquid and be nicely soaked - yay! Now you can decorate.
The most basic decoration would be just spreading or piping on whipped cream. The whipped cream helps balance the sweetness and richness of the cake.
If you want to be a bit fancier, add food color to half of the cream and pipe it on! I made ribbon swirls for every slice. And then sprinkle over crushed freeze dried strawberries and chopped pistachios. It looks so pretty with minimal effort!
You can really get creative with this recipe and make different flavors! For example:
- For a classic tres leches flavor, swap the cardamom powder with cinnamon powder (or omit altogether)
- Make a coffee flavored three milk mixture for a coffee flavored tres leches
- Introduce other flavors in the three milk mixture, for example different fruit concentrates can be great!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
You definitely want to keep Tres Leches cake in the fridge! Cover your dish with cling wrap. It should keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, although it may start to feel a bit more soggy with time.
If you don't have ladyfingers, you will need to just make the original Tres Leches cake. Google will give you many recipes!
Yes! This cake, by design, is supposed to be well soaked, almost soggy. That's the beauty of it. It is more like dessert than cake.
Tres Leches is a Spanish term that translates to "three milks". This dessert originates in Mexico, and gets its name because three types of milks are used to make the soak for the cake.
Want more easy recipe ideas? Try any of these recipes - they all takes less than 30 minutes of active work!Print
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