I find tres leches to be a little boring flavor-wise so I upped the flavor game with Mexican vanilla bean and cinnamon whipped cream. You’ll never go back to another tres leches once you’ve had a bite of this!
Photography by Darling Photography
Tres leches is a Mexican milk cake. It’s a basic 9×13 yellow cake that has holes punched in it after it’s baked and a milk mixture poured on top. The milk soaks into the cake, resulting in a super moist slice. It’s then topped with whipped cream.
My tres leches has Mexican vanilla bean and Mexican vanilla in the milk mixture so the whole cake is speckled with vanilla goodness. The whipped cream has cinnamon and the whole thing is topped with fresh strawberries and served with caramel sauce.
If you’re never had Mexican vanilla before, trust me, it’s life changing vanilla. A friend brought me back a giant bottle of Mexican vanilla from Mexico in college and it blew my mind. I was devastated when it ran out. A few months ago I was shopping at a farmers market in east Texas and I freaked out when I saw a giant bottle of vanilla extract from Mexico. The owner said, “You’re not the first person who’s freaked out when they’ve seen it.” If you aren’t fortunate enough to find it in a store, you can order Mexican vanilla beans and vanilla extract online. (Beanilla is a great resource for vanilla lovers.)
The beauty of this cake is that it’s actually better if made before. Make it the night before you want to serve it so the milk sauce can really soak into the cake.
I served this as the featured dessert at Disney Dinners: Coco. My photographer, Norberto, ran into the dining room and exclaimed that he never liked tres leches cake before but that he loved this cake. So there you go!
Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Tres Leches
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
Serving suggestions: caramel sauce, strawberries
For the milk sauce:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp Mexican vanilla
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp Mexican vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x 13 baking pan.
- Sift flour and baking powder together.
- Cream butter and granulated sugar together in a stand mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each egg. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour mixture.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for thirty minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool for thirty minutes in the pan. Pierce all over with the handle of a wooden spoon.
- Whisk together milk, half and half, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract.
- Split vanilla beans down the center and use a knife to butterfly each pod. Use the back of a knife to scrape out the beans. Whisk in to milk mixture. Pour milk mixture over cooled cake. Refrigerate for several hours.
- Whip the whipping cream with a metal whisk in a metal bowl until thickened. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk until soft peaks form. Spread over cake and refrigerate overnight.
- Serve with caramel sauce and sliced strawberries.