Cinco de Mayo officially commemorates the anniversary of an early victory by Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It's a festival of Mexican pride and heritage in the United States.
And to celebrate, I made a Tres Leches Cake. It's a dense, moist cake topped with a cloud of vanilla whipped cream. What makes it unusual is that after it's baked, it's perforated and soaked in a mixture of three different milk products: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk or heavy cream, hence the name Tres Leches. The three milks, when combined, create just the right sweetness, density and "mouth feel" for a rich cake, making it moist but not mushy. The cake is like one big giant sponge soaking up the delicious milk syrup.
Tres Leches Cake
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
For the milk syrup:
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp dark Cuban rum
Fresh whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Generously butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
Beat 3/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and firm. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour into the buttered baking dish.
Bake about 30-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely in baking dish.
Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla and rum in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well blended.
Pierce the cooled cake all over with a fork and pour the milk syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top, until it is all absorbed.
When ready to serve, cut and top with freshly whipped cream.