Martha Project 5: Tres Leches Cupcakes

My restaurant is vending at an event coming up and we’ve decided to go with kind of a Caribbeanish-Latinish theme with the food we are selling.  We’re going with several different types of Baja style tacos, black beans & plantains.  I wanted to sell something sweet and thought that Tres Leches cake would go along great with our theme.  Then, I remembered the Tres Leches Cupcakes in the Martha book and figured I’d give it a shot.  This batch was a test run, and I’m glad I tested the recipe out first because there are definitely a couple of tweaks I need to make.  First, I overcooked them by probably 2 or 3 minutes… and that was already 2 or 3 minutes less than the suggested time.  Second, I need to poke holes all the way to the bottom before brushing on the milk… the bottoms didn’t get soaked through like the rest of the cake.  Third… I put a few in the freezer to see how they freeze.  Usually, cupcakes freeze really well, but I wasn’t sure how well these would do.  We will need to be able to freeze them for this event because I won’t have time to make them the day before, and they only last a day.  I’m a little worried that they’ll get soggy once they thaw.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Let’s take one second to talk about tres leches.  Tres leches means three milks.  Typically a tres leches cake is a sponge-type cake soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.  Although apparently the true origins are unknown, it’s a very popular treat in Latin cultures.  The guys that work in the kitchen at the restaurant bring tres leches cakes from a local Mexican bakery that are out of this world.

These cupcakes are very easy to make, though the adding of the milk does take some time & patience.  The finished product = scrumptious.  Hubby’s coworkers gave them two thumbs up.

So, here we go with Martha Project #5 – Tres Leches Cupcakes – page 68.

Here’s what you need: (Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)
Makes 24 regular-sized cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:

  • 6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

For the milk mixture:

  • 1 can (14oz) condensed milk
  • 1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
  • 3/4 heavy whipping cream

For the whipped cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 325.  Line standard muffin tins with paper lined foil liners.  This is important… regular paper liners won’t hold the liquid and plain foil will stick like crazy.  On medium speed, beat together egg white, baking soda & salt until soft peaks form.  That picture to the right?  Those are soft peaks.

Add egg yolks and sugar and whisk on medium until combined.  Fold in melted butter with a rubber spatula.  Fold in sifted flour in four batches with the rubber spatula.  I even recommend sifting your flour twice… I found some good flour chunks as I scooped batter into the cups.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter into each cup (so they are halfway full) and bake for approximately 25 minutes on the center rack, rotating pans halfway through.  I mentioned this above, but I baked these for about 22-23 minutes and they were a little overdone on the bottom.  Next time, I’ll probably shoot for 20-21 minutes.

While the cupcakes are baking, whisk together the three milks.  That condensed milk is sticky stuff, so whisk it good.

When the cupcakes are finito (nice and golden brown), immediately poke about 10 holes in each with a toothpick or bamboo skewer all the way to the bottom.  I made the mistake of trying to do this quickly and therefore only poked holes about halfway down.  I think this was a major factor in the milk not absorbing all the way and the bottom 1/3 of the cake being a little on the hard side.

Now it’s time to start brushing on the milks with a pastry brush.  I’m not sure why you are supposed to brush it on instead of pouring it on, but we’re going with what Martha says on this one.  In Martha’s recipe, she says to use ALL of the milk and then let them soak for at least 30 minutes.  I tried that and it didn’t work… could’ve been the slightly over-baked problem or the aforementioned halfway poked holes problem.  I’d say go with your gut and keep brushing on milk until it seems that they won’t hold any more.  This step is a long process.  I think I should’ve stopped at about a dozen rounds of milk-brushing, which was about 2/3 of the milk mixture.

That’s when I got antsy and poured on the rest.  See that picture up there?  That’s after I poured the rest of the milk on, then let them soak for an hour and then poured the excess milk back out.  Yay me.

So, anyways, you let them soak for at least 30 minutes.  This is a good time to make whipped cream.  It’s so easy and so delicious that you’ll never want to buy whipped cream again.  Ready?  Pour the whipping cream in a bowl and whip with a mixer on medium-high until peaks form… somewhere in between soft & stiff.  You don’t want to overmix, because it will become grainy.  Should take less that 5 minutes.  Then, add in the sugar and whip on medium-low until combined.  Done. This particular whipped cream recipe is the one out of the Martha book, though I did double the sugar.  This particular whipped cream recipe does not yield a very sweet whipped cream, which works well with the very sweet cupcakes.  I usually use about a full cup of regular sugar, plus some vanilla, when I make whipped cream, and I almost did that here, but I’m glad I went with Martha’s recipe instead.

Spread the whipped cream on your cupcakes and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Serve immediately.  These babies will hold in the fridge (un-whip creamed) for 24 hours.  Wait to put the whipped cream on until just before you serve them.

These would be fantastic to serve on Cinco de Mayo!

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4 thoughts on “Martha Project 5: Tres Leches Cupcakes

  1. When my husband complains that he’s getting fat because I’m baking all of these cupcakes, I’m telling him to call you, ok? 🙂 These sound delicious as well! My Lean Cuisine is not going to satisfy my sweet craving at lunch today…..

    • I’m all ears. I get that same complaint from my coworkers… apparently their husbands would like to move in to my house. Let me know how anything you make turns out!!!

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