Sunday, September 29, 2013

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Coconut Pastel de Tres Leches (3 Milk Cake)

I am not very consistent with my Daring Bakers challenges, but I gave it a go this month for Pastel de Tres Leches!  How could I resist?  Inma was our September 2013 Daring Bakers hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious!  Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy, just plain delish!

Living in Houston, I have definitely had Tres Leches Cake (as we call it here) before.  The promise of an airy, not soggy version was very intriguing to me, but I also wanted to do something a little different than the "typical" Tres Leches.  Enter Inma's option of a chocolate coconut version!  Whooee, now we are talking!

To be honest, it is not a difficult cake to make, other than all of that FOLDING.  I am not a good folder.  There, I have said it.  It is something I do while holding my breath every time because I know I am not good so my confidence each time is in the toilet.  I need a lesson in folding.  Anyone know where I can get one?  Not an online video tutorial but someone who will stand next to me and help me do it right.  HELP!  Truly, I want to master folding!

The recipe has very few ingredients.  Eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour, water and cocoa powder.  If you made the original version it would be identical but take out the water and cocoa powder.   That's it, people!  And the amount of sugar is quite low for a cake, just 1/2 cup, because of all of the sweet milk you'll be pouring over it.  The tricky part is this - you whip the egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks and then beat the egg yolks until they are nice and fluffy.  Then you have to FOLD the egg yolks into the whites.  Scary part #1.  But wait, remember the ingredient of FLOUR?  Well, you then "shower" the egg white mixture with sifted flour, little bits at a time, and keep gently FOLDING it in.  ACK.  Seriously scary part # 2 through a zillion!  Now, mix the cocoa powder and water together into a paste, and FOLD that into the mix.  Horrifyingly scary part number zillion+!  That is lots of folding and lots of me holding my breath.  Thankfully I did not pass out. 

Pour that batter into a cake pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  In the mean time, make the 3 milk syrup.  The cake would not be Tres Leches without this crucial element!  Mix together a can of sweetened condensed milk, a can of coconut milk, and a cup of heavy cream, and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes.  It needs to cool completely before you use it.  If you were making the original recipe, you would take out the coconut milk and use a can of evaporated milk instead.  And add in a cinnamon stick.

Cut the cake in half horizontally, poke holes liberally with a fork, and start soaking that bad boy with the milk syrup.  I brushed in as much as I could before it was just seeping out all over my platter, and then put the cake into the refrigerator overnight.  I covered the milk syrup and refrigerated that as well.  In the morning, I brushed in more syrup.  I did the same in the afternoon and again before totally constructing the cake that evening.  I still didn't get all of the syrup into the cake but I did the best I could!

Spread some whipped cream on the top of that cake layer, and sprinkle with some toasted coconut.  Then put the other cake layer on top, cut side up.  I drizzled more of the syrup over the top layer as well.  I was not sure if I was supposed to pour the milk into that layer or not, so I didn't at first.  Looking back, you should probably do the same to both layers but then I have no idea how you'd get that second layer off of it's plate and onto the first layer without it falling to pieces.  However, I am fairly sure this is what I was supposed to do!  Oh, well!  Spread whipped cream all around the cake and sprinkle more toasted coconut on the top and sides.  If you were doing the original version, you would use some sort of fresh or canned fruit here and in the filling.

DIG IN.  Yum.

One of my best girlfriends was over for dinner the night I made my Tres Leches cake.  She said it was "pure loveliness", like a blend of chocolate cream pie, coconut and tres leches all together.  She said the toasted coconut really "made" the dessert.  She cleaned her plate.  So did the rest of us!  Delicious.  Inma did not steer us wrong.  This was one super awesome cake, that really was airy and not soggy!  Thank you Inma for this "lovely" challenge!

Coconut Three Milks Cake
Serves 12

Sponge cake
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup water
3 TB unsweetened cocoa powder

Coconut syrup
1 can (~14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (~12 oz.) coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream

Topping and filling
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar (I used a bit less, maybe more like 1/4-1/3 cup)
1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened coconut, and used more like 2 cups total)

Sponge cake
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter a 9x9-inch square pan or 9x9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment, and butter the parchment.

Separate the yolks and the whites, putting the yolks in a small mixing bowl and the whites in a large mixing bowl.  Beat the whites on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, or until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the sugar and whip until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks at medium-high speed until pale colored and creamy, about 5-6 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla.  Pour the egg yolks over the egg whites and gently fold until just combined, being careful to not lose any volume from the egg white mixture.

Fold in the flour little by little in the form of rain.  Mix until just combined.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely, then split the cake into two layers.  Flip the top of the cake onto a cake platter so the cut edge is up and liberally poke with a fork to help the cake absorb the milk syrup.

Coconut Syrup
Pour the three milks to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, brush all of the milk syrup into all of the sides of the cake.  Do the top layer the same way if you want, though I have no idea how you'll get the soaked layer up onto the first layer when the time comes!  Rest the cake in the refrigerator overnight to complete the soaking process.

Topping and Filling
Put coconut into a dry skillet and allow to lightly toast.

Whip the cream, and when soft peaks form, gradually add the sugar.  Continue whipping until stiff peaks
form, about 2 minutes.

Layer some whipped cream onto the bottom cake layer and cover with a little less than half of the toasted coconut.  Put the top layer on and cover the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream and toasted coconut.

Printable Recipe

Yum.  A mouthful of creamy delicious goodness.  If you have had tres leches before and thought it too soggy or too sweet for you, give this one a try.  It is perfect!

1 comment:

  1. That looks good. I like a chocolate version
    I really need to get my post up for this month DB - the pictures are sitting there waiting :-)


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