My Big Fat Cuban Lunch

Featured Article, Social
on March 4, 2011

A friend and I ate at a small Cuban restaurant (located in a run down strip center) for lunch today. I wasn't sure she would like it, but as soon as we walked in, her eyes lit up as she realized she could get plantains, something she grew up on in Africa. We split the Churrasco special which consisted of skirt steak in chimichurri sauce (a garlicky, vinegar and oil sauce), rice, beans, and tostones, which are smashed battered and fried green plantains. We ordered a side of plantains, which are soft ripe sauteed plantains, much sweeter nad softer than the tostones. The meal was terrific, especially accompanied by a fresh mango shake. We left with 2 pieces of Tres Leehes (three milk) cake to go. Yum. Here is a recipe for our Tres Leches cake, which I think is better than theirs.

Tres Leches Cake

One recipe tester said this cake was “soggy.” Indeed it is, as it should be. Three milks (hence the name Tres Leches) are combined and poured over the baked cake. The cake absorbs the milks, becoming dense and moist cake, a cross between a custard and a cake.

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided 5 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup whole milk
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened- condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon of rum or liqueur
Fresh berries for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
2. Combine butter and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well.
3. Combine flour, baking powder and cream of tartar. Add to butter mixture slowly and beat well. Spread batter in pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
4. Stir together milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk. Pour 3 cups over cake. Reserve remaining milk mixture to serve with cake. Refrigerate cake.
5. Combine heavy cream, remaining ½ cup sugar, remaining ½ teaspoon of vanilla and rum. Beat until thick and spread over cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
6. Pour leftover milk mixture onto dessert plates. Slice chilled cake into squares and place on dessert plates. Garnish with fresh berries, if using. Serves 16.