The quinceanera cakes that are most traditional are the “Pasteles de Tres Leches”.
Pastel de tres leches (three milk cake) is probably one of the most popular and recognizable desserts in Mexican cuisine. Although there is some debate concerning its country of origin (Nicaragua or Mexico) most people are only distracted by the argument until they take a bite of this heaven on earth. When properly executed, pastel de tres leches is a light-textured, airy cake that is soaked in a milk syrup and kissed with a hint of vanilla and rum.
Pastel de tres leches
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup rum
2-3 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar (or to taste)
fresh strawberries, cleaned with stems intact*
Strawberry glaze for dipping**
*Peaches and cherries are also frequently used, if using peaches or other firm fruit make sure to adjust glaze color and flavor accordingly.
**This can be purchased pre-made or you can make your own.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish (or 2 – 9” rounds, or 1- 12” round). Beat 3/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and firm, but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the buttered baking dish.
Bake the cake until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. Unmold onto a platter that is larger than the cake with a small lip on the edge to catch the milk syrup. Pierce the cake all over with a fork, taking care to not tear it up.
Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy whipping cream, vanilla and rum in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well blended. Slowly pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top, until it is all absorbed.
In a chilled bowl with chilled whisk attachment, whip heavy whipping cream until very soft peaks form. Slowly add in sugar and whip until just incorporated well, taking care to not over whip as this will give you butter. Ice/Frost cooled cake with sweetened whipped cream. Dip strawberries (either whole or halved) in glaze and place on cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving.
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