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Mar 29, 2024


Bernice Torregrossa Remember how thrilled Mom was with the handmade Mother’s Day card you brought home from elementary school? At any age, making a hand-crafted gift is a time-honored way to show

Bernice Torregrossa

Remember how thrilled Mom was with the handmade Mother’s Day card you brought home from elementary school? At any age, making a hand-crafted gift is a time-honored way to show affection for mothers and other family members, and a homemade dessert spreads the love to the whole gathering.

Tres leches cake is a fitting Mother’s Day dessert because, like most mothers, it can adapt to a variety of situations. When baked and assembled in a rectangular pan, it’s portable and easily toted to picnics, potlucks and other celebrations. Like most moms, though, it can also switch gears to be an elegant addition to a fancy party, dressed up and ready to dazzle.

Tres leches cake starts with a basic sponge cake, which then is soaked in a rich combination of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and milk or cream. Once the cake absorbs the liquid, it is topped with a fluffy layer of whipped cream or meringue.

While tres leches cake is now associated with Central America, and became popular in the United States and Mexico after Nicaraguan and Honduran immigrants brought the recipe northward, it has its origins in medieval England. Soaking a stale cake in milk or fruit juice upcycled it into a fresh dessert. In England, the concept evolved into trifle: layers of cake, cream and fruit. In Central America, where fresh dairy products weren’t always available, canned milk products became at least two of the three kinds of milks used.

Like anything else with complex roots in multiple cultures, there are endless variations on tres leches cake. One shortcut is to start with a box of yellow cake mix, a technique prescribed by the “Cake Mix Doctor” Anne Byrne in her cookbook of the same name. Cake mix cakes aren’t quite as absorbent as an actual sponge cake, but do a fairly good job of soaking up the sweet sauce.

Because it takes a while, preferably overnight, for the cake to absorb the liquid, making a tres leches cake isn’t a spur-of-the-moment whim. All of the steps are easy, especially if starting with a cake mix, but it takes time in between the steps.

Like mothers, tres leches cakes come in all varieties. The classic vanilla flavor is the hands-down favorite, but the chocolate, pineapple, pumpkin and coffee versions can personalize the cake to reflect Mom’s favorite flavors.

Pineapple tres leches cake swaps in coconut milk as one of the three milks in the soaking sauce and adds a layer of crushed pineapple for a subtle fruit taste and a different texture. Chocolate tres leches is an intense triple-whammy of chocolate, as the milk sauce intensifies the chocolate in the cake and cocoa-infused whipped cream sends the chocolate flavor off the charts.

Tres leches cake is so rich that a small slice will satisfy most diners, making a rectangular pan enough to serve 12 to 15 people. For occasions that demand a more impressive-looking dessert, the cake batter can be baked in round pans and stacked. The taller cake can then be finished with a topping of fresh fruit or edible flowers such as pansies.

Bernice Torregrossa: [email protected].

Bernice Torregrossa

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch kosher salt

3 cup milk, divided (2 percent or whole)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 ounces sweetened condensed milk

6 ounces evaporated milk

For the whipped topping

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate shavings, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray, olive oil, or butter. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine.

Add 2 cups of milk, the vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk together until well combined and smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes while you make the three milk mixture.

In a medium bowl, add the remaining 1 cup of milk, the sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Whisk together to combine.

Using a knife or a spatula, gently unstick the sides of the cake from the pan. Then, poke holes all over the cake using a skewer or a large fork.

Gradually pour the three milk mixture over the cake. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to let the cake fully cool and absorb the liquid.

While the cake cools, make the whipped topping. In a large bowl, add the heavy cream, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract.

Beat on high speed using a handheld or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

When the cake has cooled completely, top with the whipped topping and garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired. Serves 12.

— Recipe from “Isabel Eats,” by Isabel Orozco-Moore

For the cake

Vegetable oil spray, for misting the springform pans

1 package (18 1/4 ounces) plain yellow cake mix

1 package (about 3 ounces) instant pudding mix

1 cup whole or low-fat milk

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

For the milks syrup and toppings

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups sweetened whipped cream (recipe follows)

2 cups sliced, lightly sweetened strawberries


Make the cake: Place a rack in the center of the over and preheat the over to 350° F. Using the vegetable oil spray, lightly mist a 9-inch springform pan and a smaller 7 inch springform pan to hold the remaining batter, Each pan should be about 2 1/2 inches deep.

Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if necessary. Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pans, filling the larger pan two thirds full first, then the smaller pan Smooth out the top of the batter with a rubber spatula. Place the pans on a large baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the oven.

Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. The smaller cake will be done in about 28 to 30 minutes; let it cool on a wire rack. The larger cake will take from 35 to 40 minutes; let it cool on the baking sheet for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream and vanilla in a medium-size bowl. When the cakes are cooled poke holes all over the tops with a fork, chopstick or bamboo skewer. Keep the cakes on the baking sheet. Using a large spoon or ladle, spoon some of the milk syrup over each of the cakes. Let the syrup soak into the cake, then continue spooning the syrup on top until you have used all of it. When you have finished, not all of the syrup will be completely absorbed but that's okay. Cover the cakes loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate them on the baking sheet until the syrup is absorbed, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.

To serve, remove the outside rims of the springform pans.

Place the cakes on serving plates. Spread the top and sides of the cakes with a light coating of whipped cream, then garnish the cakes with the strawberries. Or, garnish the tops first with the strawberries and then with the whipped cream.

BIG BATCH: If you want to serve a lot of people and don't care as much about presentation, bake the cake in a single 13-by-9-inch pan for 32 to 34 minutes. The frosting and garnish amounts listed make enough for a sheet cake. It will serve twenty.

Sweetened Whipped Cream

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Place a large mixing bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer in the freezer for a few minutes while you assemble the ingredients. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the cream has thickened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stop the machine and add the confectioners' sugar. Beat the cream by and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes more.

— "What Can I Bring?" by Anne Byrne

For the cake:

6 3/4 ounces cake flour (about 1 and 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick, room temperature

8 ounces sugar 1 cup

5 large eggs room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup light coconut milk

For the topping:

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained thoroughly

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toasted coconut


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch metal pan. Set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, (using paddle attachment) beat butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Decrease speed to low and very gradually add sugar (this should take a good minute) scraping sides of bowl as necessary.

Add the eggs, one at a time mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture in thirds and mix just until combined after each addition. Scrape bowl as necessary and don't overbeat.

Transfer the batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. This will be thin layer of batter.

Bake for 18-25 minutes until lightly golden. If you have a thermometer, the cake will be done when it's internal temperature registers 200 degrees. Mine took just over 18 minutes.

Place cake on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Then, poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or a fork. I used a skewer this time, but found that the fork was much more effective. Be thorough with poking the cake. Any areas without enough holes will not absorb the glaze as well as the areas that have alot.

Allow cake to cool completely.

Make the glaze by combining the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk to thoroughly combine, then slowly pour the mixture over the entire cake.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, most, if not all of the liquid should have been absorbed by the cake.

Spread drained crushed pineapple evenly over cake.

Place the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla into a mixing bowl and using whisk attachment, beat to stiff peaks. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Top with toasted coconut flakes, if desired. Serves 12.

— Recipe from “The Merchant Baker,” by Ramona Merchant

Thanks - these are right on time.

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Explore the history of Seawolf Park and the USS Cavalla, a World War II submarine lost in action. Located on Pelican Island, north of Galveston, Seawolf Park is a fisherman's paradise with historic landmarks, including the USS Stewart and the USS Cavalla.

For the whipped toppingFor the cake:For the glaze:For the topping:Bailey JonesInternet forum rules ...Real names requiredKeep it clean.Don't threaten.Be truthful.Be nice.Be brief.Edit yourself.Be aware.Be proactive.