Delicious Tres Leches Cake Recipe: Perfect for Any Occasion

Greetings, fellow food enthusiasts! Are you ready to indulge in a bit of culinary bliss? If so, allow me to introduce you to an iconic dessert that has been tantalizing taste buds for generations – the Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central in El Paso, Texas.

This cake is no ordinary confectionery delight; it is a masterpiece with a fascinating history and an irresistible flavor. The Tres Leches Cake is known all around the world as one of the most delicious and unique desserts out there. Originating from the Dominican Republic, this cake’s recipe spread across Latin America, where its fame quickly grew.

Although opinions differ on who first created this heavenly dessert, one thing is certain: it has become an iconic dessert that can be found in virtually every Tex-Mex restaurant and bakery. Cafe Central in El Paso has fine-tuned their version of the Tres Leches Cake over the years and now boasts one of the best Tres Leches Cakes around.

With its sponge-like exterior infused with three different types of milk – sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream – the Tres Leches Cake has a texture like no other. These three milks blend together perfectly to create a moist (but not soaked) cake that literally melts in your mouth with each bite.

So, join me on this culinary journey and let’s recreate one of my favorite recipes – The Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central in El Paso! Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central, El Paso
Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central, El Paso

As a chef specializing in Brazilian and American cuisine, I am always on the lookout for exceptional recipes that combine the best of both worlds. And I can say with confidence that this Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central in El Paso is a delight to the taste buds.

First of all, let me tell you what makes this cake stand out from other desserts: it’s soaked in tres leches (“three milks”), which means it’s moist, rich, and oh-so-flavorful. Imagine a sponge cake infused with a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. It’s decadent without being overpowering.

But what really sets this cake apart is the attention to detail that goes into each ingredient. The recipe calls for pure vanilla extract, cream of tartar, and baking powder – all of which are essential for creating the perfect texture and flavor.

And let’s not forget about the flour: all-purpose flour is mixed with sugar, eggs, and softened butter to create a light and fluffy batter that forms the base for the tres leches magic to happen.

When you take a bite of this cake, you’ll be transported to a world of sweet indulgence. The smooth texture of the whipped cream combined with the moistness of the tres leches creates an experience that’s simply irresistible.

If you’re looking for something sweet to bring to your next party or just want to enjoy an indulgent treat at home, then you must try this Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you.

Ingredient List

 A slice of heaven in every bite!
A slice of heaven in every bite!

Let’s dive into the ingredients that make this Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central, El Paso stand out. Tres Leches, meaning “three milks,” is an iconic Latin American dessert, and this recipe calls for a variety of dairy products topped with whipped cream. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

For the Cake:

  • 9 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk

For The Three Milk Mixture:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For the Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Recipe How-To

 Indulge in the sweet and creamy goodness
Indulge in the sweet and creamy goodness

Now that we have gone through the introduction and the reasons why you will love this recipe for Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central in El Paso, Texas, let’s get to the exciting part – how to make this cake.

Ingredient List

First, let’s gather all of our ingredients for the base cake. You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Base Cake

To start, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

First, we will prepare the base cake. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour and baking powder then set them aside.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until they become light and fluffy. This should typically take for around five minutes. Now add in the eggs one at a time, making sure that it is well combined before adding in another egg. Once you’ve added in all eggs, mix in the vanilla extract.

Pour half of the dry mixture into wet mixture and stir until fully incorporated but not over-mixed. Then pour in the remaining dry mixture continuing to gently mix until everything is fully combined.

Take your greased baking pan (preferably a half sheet pan) and pour your batter into it. Bake it in your preheated oven at around twenty minutes or until lightly browned on top.

The Three Milks

While waiting for your base cake to finish baking, we can work on preparing our three milks: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream – of course!

Simply whisk together one can each of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream into a bowl until fully combined.

The Tres Leches

After your base cake has finished baking, allow it to cool down for around ten minutes before removing it from the pan. After completely removing it from the pan, poke holes on top of it using a fork or a toothpick. Once done, pour the three-milk mixture over the prepared cake in thirds. Letting each portion to be fully absorbed by the sponge cake before adding another one.

Chill and Serve

After all wet ingredients have been added and absorbed. Chill the cake in your refrigerator for at least an hour after wrapping it with plastic wrap.

When ready to serve, top it off with whipped cream or icing sugar if preferred. You are now ready to try your very own Tres Leches Cake using this delicious recipe from Cafe Central in El Paso, Texas!

Happy Baking!

Substitutions and Variations

 A dessert that is worth the calories
A dessert that is worth the calories

Are you feeling adventurous? Want to try something a little different with your tres leches cake from Cafe Central, El Paso recipe? Well, I have some substitutions and variations that might pique your interest!

First off, let’s talk about the milk mixture. Traditionally, the tres leches cake is made with a milk mixture consisting of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. But you can switch it up by substituting coconut cream for some or all of the heavy cream. Or swap out the evaporated milk for coconut milk to give it a tropical twist.

Now let’s talk about the sponge cake base. Some may argue that a yellow cake is not technically a tres leches cake. However, if you prefer a denser sponge cake base, you might try using a pound cake recipe instead of traditional yellow cake.

If you don’t eat eggs, try swapping them out for aquafaba – the liquid from canned chickpeas – which whips up just like egg whites and works as an effective substitute in baking recipes.

For those who love coffee as much as they love cake, consider adding espresso powder to your milk mixture. This will create a tempting twist on the classic dessert!

Finally, for an extra kick of sweetness, drizzle dulce de leche over the top of your finished tres leches cake. This caramel goodness will elevate your dessert game to new heights!

Experimenting with substitutions and variations is the ultimate test of creativity in the kitchen! Remember that this is all about having fun and making something delicious – so go ahead and give it a try!

Serving and Pairing

 A perfect balance of moist and fluffy cake
A perfect balance of moist and fluffy cake

Tres Leches Cake is a decadent dessert that needs no introduction. Once you’ve taken a bite of this moist, creamy, and dreamy cake, you’ll understand why it’s one of the most popular desserts in Mexican and American cuisine. It’s perfect for weddings, birthdays, graduations, or just any day when you need some indulgence.

When it comes to serving and pairing this delicious cake, there are endless possibilities. You can serve it cold or at room temperature, depending on your preference. I like to top mine with whipped cream or fresh fruits like strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. They add a pop of color and freshness that complements the rich flavors of the cake perfectly.

To take your Tres Leches Cake experience to the next level, you can pair it with some complementary beverages. Personally, I love to enjoy my Tres Leches Cake with a warm cup of coffee or tea. The bitterness of the coffee or tea balances out the sweetness of the cake and enhances its rich flavor.

If coffee or tea isn’t your jam, try pairing the Tres Leches Cake with milk, hot chocolate or an after-dinner liquor such as Kahlua liqueur or Bailey’s Irish Cream. You can even try experimenting with wine pairings by pairing the cake with a sweet white wine such as Moscato.

Lastly, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something different altogether, why not pair your Tres Leches Cake with some salty snacks? Some classic pairings include popcorns pretzels or even potato chips which add a nice contrast to this sweet delicacy.

So there you have it- Serving and Pairing made easy! Whether you choose to enjoy your Tres Leches Cake as-is or experiment with paired beverages and snacking options- A slice of heaven is always guaranteed!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 An absolute treat for your next feast
An absolute treat for your next feast

If, by some incredible feat of culinary fortitude, you find yourself with leftovers after serving the scrumptious Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central, fret not! This dessert can certainly be enjoyed over multiple sittings.

If you have a bit of forethought, this cake can easily be made ahead of time for upcoming events or gatherings. The only thing to keep in mind is that it should not be stored in the refrigerator for too long because doing so can affect its spongy texture. So, if you plan on making this dessert ahead of time, store it at room temperature for up to one day before serving.

As for storing leftover Tres Leches Cake, the key is to cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate. This will help the cake stay moist and retain its flavor. Leftovers will last for up to 3-4 days in the fridge.

Reheating the Tres Leches Cake is also relatively easy. Simply place it in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes or until it has warmed through. You can also warm individual slices in the microwave for about 20 seconds.

In my opinion, the best way to enjoy this delectable cake is straight out of the fridge because it maintains its nice and cool texture. However, reheating it brings out some extra moistness which I find some people might appreciate as well.

Overall, with a bit of planning and proper storage techniques, you can continue to indulge in Tres Leches Cake long after its creation date has passed.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A cake that will make you say
A cake that will make you say “yum” with every forkful

As a chef who has prepared numerous Tres Leches Cakes, I can tell you that there are several tips that can make the difference between a good cake and a fantastic one. Here are some of my tried-and-true recommendations for creating a perfect Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central, El Paso recipe.

First tip: Don’t Over-Bake

It’s essential to keep an eye on your cake while it is baking in the oven. One common mistake home bakers make is over-baking their cakes, which can lead to a dry texture. To prevent this, set your timer for the minimum time suggested in this recipe and check it regularly using a toothpick inserted in the center to see whether it comes out clean.

Second tip: Use Room Temperature Ingredients

Using ingredients that are at room temperature will help ensure that your cake batter forms a smooth consistency, which will result in a more uniform and even crumb. So be sure to take your eggs, milk, and cream out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before mixing.

Third tip: Be Gentle When Folding Your Batter

When you’re ready to mix all of the ingredients together, remember that less is more when it comes to folding. You don’t want to deflate the batter or overwork it by stirring too vigorously. Instead, use a gentle hand when folding everything together. This will help keep the air bubbles within the mixture and create a fluffy sponge cake.

Fourth tip: Chill Before Adding Tres Leches Mixture

Once you have baked your sponge cake, let it cool down completely before pouring the Tres Leches mixture over it. It’s best to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the sponge has time to absorb all of those delicious flavors from the three milk mixture—sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy whipping cream.

Fifth tip: Add Fresh Fruit as a Garnish

Finally, if you want to take your Tres Leches Cake to the next level, I recommend adding fresh fruit on top as a garnish. You can use strawberries, blueberries, kiwi or mango. It’ll add a fresh pop of color and flavor. Plus, the acidity from the fruit will help balance out the richness of the three milk mixture.

By following these tips, you can create an outstanding Tres Leches Cake that is sure to impress your guests. Remember, it’s natural to make mistakes in the kitchen, but with practice and patience, you can master this traditional Dominican dessert that has become popular all around the world.


Before wrapping up this recipe article, let’s take a moment to address some frequently asked questions about Tres Leches Cake. From the origin of this delightful dessert to tips on how to make the perfect sponge cake, we’ve got you covered. So, buckle up and read on to find out everything you need to know about this indulgent treat.

What is tres leches frosting made of?

This recipe involves incorporating three different types of milk onto the cake: heavy whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk.

Why is my tres leches cake not soaking?

When making your tres leches cake, if it’s been hours and the milk mixture isn’t being absorbed properly, you may have overmixed the batter. An overmixed batter can lead to a heavy and dense cake that won’t absorb the milk well. Don’t forget to poke the cake all over with a skewer to help it better soak up the mixture.

How do you keep tres leches from getting soggy?

When making our cake, we’ll ensure that it stays fluffy and moist even after being soaked in the Tres Leches. We’ll achieve this by slightly reducing the amount of the three types of milk used by half a cup. This carefully measured quantity will be enough to saturate the cake with liquid without making it soggy.

Is tres leches cake from el salvador?

There is much discussion surrounding the origins of Tres Leches, a popular dessert in Latin America. Despite conflicting opinions, it is widely believed that Mexico is the rightful creator of this decadent cake.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Tres Leches Cake recipe from Cafe Central in El Paso is one of the best cake recipes you’ll ever taste. This cake takes all your taste buds on a delicious journey. The combination of the three milk types along with the sponge-cake base creates a unique experience that will have you coming back for more.

The recipe is easy to make and very customizable. You can substitute some ingredients or variations to make it more unique and personalized. It pairs well with fresh fruits, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or even a nice cup of coffee.

Overall, this cake not only represents El Paso’s dining culture but also comes with a rich history from the Dominican Republic where it originated. A must-try dessert that will not disappoint you or your guests at any gathering. So, give this recipe a try and become an instant pastry chef among your family and friends!

Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central, El Paso

Tres Leches Cake from Cafe Central, El Paso Recipe

I visited El Paso and was won over by the excellent "Cafe Central" restaurant downtown. Upon arriving home, I searched the internet for their recipes and found one from the 1999 Texas Monthly magazine, courtesy of Cafe Central's pastry chef, Maria Devora. Instead of merengue icing, it substitutes a "sugar-cream." All prep times are guesses.
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Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 1 9x13 cake
Calories 9140 kcal



  • 9 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Three Milks

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk (5/8 cup)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (7/8 cup)

Cream Icing

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar


  • Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Separate egg yolks and whites, keeping whites at room temperature.
  • In bowl of an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter together until pale yellow and fluffy.
  • Add egg yolks and beat until fluffy again, 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed.
  • In a separate bowl combine flour and baking powder.
  • In a third bowl mix milk and vanilla.
  • Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture (a fourth at a time) until all are combined.
  • Beat until smooth after each addition.
  • Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form and, using a large spatula, gently but thoroughly fold into flour-and-butter mixture.
  • Grease bottom of a 9- by 13-inch metal baking pan.
  • Pour in batter and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool.
  • (May also be baked in an 11.5- by 17.5-inch sheet pan for 20 minutes; this size rises very evenly, helpful for inexperienced cooks.).
  • Three Milks:
  • Stir the milks together thoroughly; do not beat.
  • Do not refrigerate canned milks before using.
  • Cream Icing:
  • Whip cream and sugar together until stiff.
  • When cake is cool, slice or peel off the thin top crust.
  • Ice sides first, creating a small lip on top to catch milk mixture.
  • Pour milk mixture evenly over top of cake (if necessary, poke holes in cake with a knife or toothpick to facilitate soaking; you will probably need only 3/4of mixture).
  • Finish icing top.
  • Refrigerate.
  • (If using an 11.5- by 17.5-inch pan, cut cake in half to make 2 equal pieces. Soak first layer, ice top if desired, and place second layer on top of it. Proceed as above.) Serves 12.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 2986gCalories: 9140kcalCarbohydrates: 833gProtein: 152.5gFat: 591.8gSaturated Fat: 355gCholesterol: 3784.3mgSodium: 3298.7mgFiber: 6.8gSugar: 588g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Dessert, Mexican
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.