Finding a dessert that is delicious and can easily be transported to a potluck can be tricky. These individual tres leches cakes assembled in mason jars are a great solution to that common dilemma. You can make the cakes the night before the party. Then simply bring the garnishes in separate bowls and add them at the party when ready to serve. It is a good idea to transport the cakes in a cooler in case the hostess’s refrigerator is full.
Tres leches cake is a cake (usually a sponge cake) that is soaked in a mixture of three milks (tres leches): sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. To my version, I added Cognac and chopped dark chocolate. The cognac adds a lovely elegance to the cake, and the dark chocolate offsets the sweetness of the condensed milk.
Start by making a sponge cake that can hold up to all that liquid from the tres leches mixture and not become soggy. For this recipe, all you will need are eggs, sugar and flour. Using a stand mixer, whip together the eggs and sugar for at least 10 minutes or until the mixture triples in volume and looks pale yellow. The texture should be very light and fluffy with a lot of air incorporated into it.
Transfer that mixture to a large bowl. With a spatula, gently (but quickly) fold in the sifted flour in 3 to 4 batches. You want to keep a lot of air in the batter.
Bake at 350°F until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. Remove the cake from the oven and poke it all over with a fork. This will help the cake to absorb the tres leches mixture.
To make the tres leches mixture, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and, for a special touch, some very good Cognac.
To assemble, cut the cake into 2-inch round pieces.
Add one piece to each mason jar. Follow with 1/4 cup of the tres leches mixture.
Top with dark chocolate and repeat all the layers once again.
You can then close the mason jars and refrigerate the cakes for at least 3 hours. I usually allow it to soak overnight.
When ready to serve, top each cake with whipped cream and a cherry.
I can’t get enough of this super moist and flavorful treat!