Tres Leches – Cooking with Valentina

Tres Leches is so popular in Costa Rica that it is given the honor of “national dessert.”
The recipe for this rich cake included three milks: whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk.

Once upon a time somewhere in the mid-20th century, the Nestlé company in Switzerland put a recipe for a cake on the back of a condensed milk can as a marketing tactic. This recipe included three milks: whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. One small, brave can transversed thousands of miles across the sea to a housewife in Latin America. She looked at the back of the can, decided to give it a try, and inadvertently started a culinary revolution in Latin America.


Regardless of whether the above legend is true or not, Tres Leches is so popular in Costa Rica that it is given the honor of “national dessert.” You will easily find people eating this cake after lunch on a normal day, or baking it to celebrate a special occasion. With three types of milks, plenty of sugar, and cream and fruit to top it off, this cake is sweeter and moister than most cakes. Would you like to try Tres Leches cake? Let’s cook with Valentina.


You will need:



  • 4 eggs
  • Wheat flour – 1 cup 
  • Sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Butter – 1.69oz 
  • Baking Powder – 1 Teaspoon                                    
  • Vanilla – 1 Teaspoon
  • Yellow lemon zest
  •  Milk – 1.25 cups
  •  Condensed Milk – 1.25 cups
  •  Crema de leche – 2.25 cups
  • 4 huevos
  • Harina de trigo (7.55oz, 190gr)
  • Azucar (6.07oz, 110gr)
  • Mantequilla (1.69oz, 40gr)
  • Polvo para hornear (1 cucharadita, 2gr)                      
  • Esencia de vainilla (1 cucharadita, 2 gr)
  • Ralladura de limon amarillo
  • Leche (300gr, 10.58oz)
  • Leche condensada (300gr, 10.58oz)
  • Crema de leche (300gr, 10.58oz)


Ingredients for the the Merengue:



  • 2 Egg whites     
  • Sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Lemon – 6 drops                     
  • 2 claras de huevo
  • Azucar (4.97oz, 140gr)                
  • Limon (6 gotas)


Follow Along with the Video Below


  1. Preheat the oven to 367 degrees Fahrenheit, 186 degrees Celsius. 
  2. Put the eggs and the sugar into the blender and mix for 10 minutes
  3. Melt the butter on low heat over the stove.
  4. Sift the wheat flour and the baking powder through a strainer and into a bowl. 
  5. When the egg and sugar mixture has thickened, mix in the wheat and baking powder by hand. 
  6. Add the yellow lemon zest, vanilla, and the melted butter and mix thoroughly.
  7. Coat the bottom of a cake pan with butter and a little bit of flour.
  8. Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. 
  9. Put the milk, condensed milk, and cream de leche into a pot. Heat on the stove on low heat for 5 minutes. 
  10. Put the 2 egg whites in the mixer and mix on medium speed. Little by little, add the sugar. Also add the lemon drops. 
  11. Cut the bottom of a pastry bag (a large, plastic ziplock bag will do) and scoop the wheat flour mixture into the bag. 


When the cake is baked:

  1. When the cake is fully baked, pull it out of the oven and poke small holes into the top of it. 
  2. Pour the three milk mixture all over the top of the cake.
  3. Decorate the top with the merengue. 
  4. Cut yourself a slice and share it with friends and family!



  1. Precalienta el horno a 367 grados Fahrenheit, 186 grados Celsius.
  2. Pon los huevos y el azúcar en la batidora y mezcla durante 10 minutos.
  3. Derrita la mantequilla a fuego lento sobre la estufa.
  4. Tamizar la harina de trigo y el polvo de hornear a través de un colador y en un bol.
  5. Cuando la mezcla de huevo y azúcar se haya espesado, agregue el trigo y el polvo para hornear a mano.
  6. Agrega la ralladura de limón amarillo, la vainilla y la mantequilla derretida y mezcla bien.
  7. Untar el fondo de un molde para pasteles con mantequilla y un poco de harina.
  8. Vierte la mezcla en el molde para pastel y hornea en el horno durante 30 minutos.
  9. Pon en una olla la leche, la leche condensada y la crema de leche. Calentar en la estufa a fuego lento durante 5 minutos.
  10. Pon las 2 claras de huevo en la batidora y mezcla a velocidad media. Poco a poco vamos añadiendo el azúcar. Añade también las gotas de limón.
  11. Corta el fondo de una manga pastelera (una bolsa grande de plástico con cierre hermético servirá) y coloca la mezcla de harina de trigo en la bolsa.


Cuando el pastel esté horneado

  1. Cuando el pastel esté completamente horneado, sácalo del horno y haz pequeños agujeros en la parte superior.
  2. Vierte la mezcla de tres leches por toda la parte superior del pastel.
  3. Decora la parte superior con el merengue.
  4. ¡Córtate un trozo y compártelo con amigos y familiares!


If you enjoyed learning about and baking Tres Leches cake, sign your child up for Cultural Bytes’ ViLaCa (Virtual Language Camp), where we teach the Spanish language through fun, culturally-relevant activities. 

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