Jennifer Baker From: Lauderhill Recipe's story: She was dating a man from the Dominican Republic and was "into all things Spanish" when she first made this dessert. She even learned to salsa dance. She "kicked up" the basic tres leches recipe by adding the graham cracker layer and the fresh strawberry garnish, she says. "The recipe lasted longer than the relationship," she adds with a laugh. Test kitchen tip: This recipe requires you to separate nine eggs. And you have to be sure you don't get any yolks in the whites or you won't be able to whip them to stiff peaks. We recommend separating each egg white into a small bowl before adding it to the other whites. That way, if one happens to get some yolk in it, you can discard it or use it for another purpose and you won't ruin the other whites for this recipe. This can be baked in individual ramekins or custard cups, if you prefer. The baking time will be shorter. The strawberries can be pureed and the mixture can be put atop the cake before you top it with whipped cream. Graham Cracker Crust: • 1 1 / 2 cups graham cracker crumbs • 1 / 4 cup sugar • 5 tablespoons melted butter Cake Batter: • 3 / 4 cup butter, softened • 1 1 / 2 cups sugar • 9 eggs, separated • 1 teaspoon vanilla • 1 / 2 teaspoon almond extract • 2 cups flour • 1 1 / 2 teaspoons baking powder • 1 cup milk • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar Three Milk Mixture: • 2 cups heavy whipping cream • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk Whipped Cream Topping: • 1 cup heavy whipping cream • 1 / 2 cup sugar • 12 to 15 strawberries, for garnish To make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter and mix to combine. Place in the prepared pan and pat to cover the bottom. Bake 8 minutes. Let cool. Leave the oven on. To make batter: In a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Beat the flour mixture alternately with the milk into the butter mixture. Beat well after each addition. With an electric mixer using clean beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cake batter. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. To make milk mixture: Stir together 2 cups heavy cream, evaporated milk and condensed milk. Use a toothpick to make holes in the cake all over the top. Pour the milk mixture very slowly over the cake until it won't absorb any more milk mixture (you may have a quarter to a third of the mixture left; reserve any that's leftover). Cover and refrigerate the cake overnight. To make topping: Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the cream until soft peaks form. Then, with mixer running, slowly add the sugar as you beat and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over the soaked cake. Refrigerate until serving time. Pour leftover Three Milk Mixture onto plates before setting pieces of cake on the plates. Garnish each serving with a strawberry. Makes 12 to 15 servings. Per serving: 640 calories, 52 percent calories from fat, 37 grams total fat, 22 grams saturated fat, 223 milligrams cholesterol, 68 grams carbohydrates, .8 gram total fiber, 51 grams total sugars, 67 grams net carbs, 10 grams protein, 234 milligrams sodium.
Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel
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