Torta Tres Leches with Cocoa Nibs

Serves 12, makes 18 individual cakes


I got the recipe for this luscious, moist cake from a friend who grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. Tres leches (three milks) is a light sponge cake which is traditionally soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk. The Torta can be made several days ahead of time either in a rectangular baking pan or in individual foil cups.

Ingredients (Tres Leches Cake):

  • ½ pound (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, substitute vanilla if desired)
  • Milk Mixture (recipe follows)

Directions (Tres Leches Cake):

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 13 x 9x 2-inch (3-quart) baking dish generously with nonstick spray. In one bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites, adding sugar gradually, and continuing to beat until firm and glossy. Add the yolks to the egg whites one at a time, beating briefly after each addition.
  • Mixing on low speed, sprinkle in the flour mixture and then add 11⁄2 cups of water and almond extract. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • To make individual cakes, have ready 18 (4-ounce) foil cups (or muffin tins) with nonstick coating and arrange on baking trays. Spoon, pipe, or ladle ¼ cup of the batter into the tins and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until set in the middle.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the Milk Mixture and Topping.


Ingredients (Milk Mixture and Topping):

  • 1 can (13-ounce) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14-ounce) dulce de leche
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup crushed cocoa nibs

Directions (Milk Mixture and Topping):

  • Pour the evaporated milk, dulce de leche, milk, and rum into a blender and blend until smooth (or use an immersion blender). While the cake is still warm, use a toothpick to punch holes in the cake. Slowly pour the Milk Mixture over the cake so that it is all absorbed. Cool and then refrigerate.
  • When ready to serve, beat the heavy cream until moderately firm. Sprinkle in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat again briefly. Spread the cream evenly over top of the cake and sprinkle with the cocoa nibs. For the cake, cut into serving portions and serve.