Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tres Leches Cake Battle: Cook's Country vs. Joy the Baker

What started as a cake turned into a battle royale in our humble kitchen. The plan was simple: make a friend's favorite cake in the whole wide world, Tres Leches, for her birthday! Easy enough!

As I researched recipes, it slowly dawned upon me that I had no clue what Tres Leches tastes like. Sure I had it once in the past but it apparently had left no impression. My palette was a clean slate. Scrolling through images and recipes, the task of making this birthday cake transformed into a slight dilemma. Which recipe to pick? Is that authentic? With or without frosting? Usually this sort of thing wouldn't be an issue but the birthday girl previously LIVED in Costa Rica and knew her Latin desserts.

In the throws of my indecision, I jumped on Joy's the Baker's rendition (pictured above to the left). The end result confused me because even though it was a "cake," it looked extremely similar to a Portuguese dessert called aletria which is made of vermicelli. I took a bite of the cake sans soaking in the evaporated/condensed/coconut milk concoction and found it dense. The base's sole purpose is to be the canvas. Fortunately, Joy's addition of rum and cardamom to the glaze help give dimension and flavor. Without these elements- I'm not sure this would be a very appealing dessert.

The next day, I pulled out the big guns: America's Test Kitchen. They really should give me a dollar for every time they're mentioned on this blog because they're my holy grail of recipes. Watching the video from Cook's Country (an affiliation of America's Test Kitchen) on how to make Tres Leches had me scrambling back to the grocery store- the cake looked so good that I just had to make it. 

{ Unfortunately, the video is no longer available on YouTube and requires a small payment if you want to watch the tutorial; it's not necessary but it is helpful }

And so, I took another crack at making a Tres Leches Cake (pictured above on left). The Cook's Country version was fluffy, light, and soft. It made the entire house smell heavenly and the crust was a warm golden brown. Topped with a light whipped cream, it is a lovely cake and melts in your mouth like a cloud. You can finish it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a drizzle of dulche de leche. Swoon! In the end, the birthday girl was pleased as punch with her cake. 

The winner of the Tres Leches Battle, in my opinion, was clear:

Cook's Country Tres Leches Cake!

These two version of the same recipe could not have tasted more different- it's like comparing apples to oranges. See for yourself which version that you prefer!

For the recipes, check out Cook's Country and Joy the Baker!