Irish Cream Tres Leches – A traditional tres leches cakes soaked with three milks (cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk) but now with an added kick from Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur. This cake is perfect for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations!
Let the countdown to St. Patrick’s Day begin! Do you have plans for it this year? What kinds of ways do you celebrate? We never really celebrate it. It’s just too crazy for me to go out and pay crazy amounts of money to be surrounded by obnoxious drunks. I rather just stay in and make Irish coffees and eat Irish foods. Is this what growing up feels like???
This year, however, we have slightly different plans: we booked a trip to Boston! We planned to go to Boston last fall but couldn’t make it work. So we decided to go this spring. The only time we could make it work was this weekend and we just so happen to arrive on St. Patrick’s Day. Boston in a known for being rich in Irish Catholic culture so there are TONS of Irish pubs around us so we’ll have plenty to do on Friday evening. I even bought us Irish head-gear (a hat for my husband and a headband for me) and necklaces to show our pride. Who’s obnoxious now?!
Since I won’t be able to enjoy my own homemade Irish fare on St. Patrick’s Day, I made some ahead of time. I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to make so I took a look at my baking bucket list. Yup, that’s a thing. I’ve been keeping a running list of things I need to bake for years. Other things on the list: every kind of bread, the perfect shortbread cookies, and cannolis.
While looking through the list, I saw exactly what I was gonna make: tres leches cake! I am OBSESSED with tres leches- how could you not be?! It’s a fluffy cake soaked in three (tres) milks (leches) – heavy cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. But I’ve never made it at home before. Why not use this opportunity to make my first tres leches cake, but with an Irish flair?!
And so the Irish cream tres leches cake was born!
When I first took a bite of the finished product, I seriously melted from pure delight. Holy moly! The flavor was on point, the texture was perfectly moist, and the Irish cream stood out without being overwhelming. It was utter perfection. I was honestly shocked that my first tres leches came out this great!
Tres leches can be tricky because you want the cake to soak up all the milk but don’t want it to get soggy and grainy. I’ve had some at restaurants that were soaked in milk but still tasted dry. Sometimes soaking a dry, bland cake in milk just isn’t enough to save it.
In my research of the perfect tres leches cake, I learned that you want to make a light and airy cake that has air pockets all throughout which can soak up as much milk as possible. But! You also need to have a cake that’s strong enough to hold all the milk without falling apart and getting mushy. This cake accomplishes both, mostly thanks to the whipped egg whites that you gently mix into the cake batter.
After you make the cake and it cools completely, you turn the cake over onto a serving platter. Then, poke even more holes into the cake to help it absorb as much milk as possible. Now it’s time to pour the milk all over and let it soak into the cake. It will probably pool on top and n the sides, but don’t worry it will soon get absorbed by the cake.
To top the cake, the traditional topping is whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. But since this is an Irish cream tres leches, we’re topping with Irish whipped cream, made with heavy cream, sugar, and, of course, Irish cream. And instead of a maraschino cherry, I decided to top with a chocolate-covered espresso bean. There’s just something about Irish cream that reminds me of coffee so I liked this garnish better than a cherry.
Before you get going on this Irish cream tres leches, here are some more tips and tricks that I learned:
- As I said above, the key to an amazing tres leches in a light and airy cake that can absorb all of the milk. We achieve this by mixing in the whipped egg whites separately. Make sure you gently stir the egg whites into the cake batter so they don’t deflate.
- Make sure you make the cake until its deep golden brown. I know this goes against your instinct to bake the cake until it’s just a light golden brown on the edges. But trust me – if the cake is too fluffy, it will get soggy when soaked in the milk. Check out the picture above to see how dark the cake should be once it’s done.
- The cake tastes best when it’s had enough time to absorb the milk, about 1 hour. But I will say…the cake tasted even better the next day. So if you can wait, let it sit overnight before serving.
- Since we’re flipping the cake onto a serving platter, it is so important that you probably grease the pan so that the cake won’t stick. I always butter my dish and then sprinkle with a little flour. This has not failed me yet!
- If you don’t have a serving dish that can fit the cake, you can leave the cake in the cake pan. But just be careful when adding the milk mixture – it may overflow a little if you add it too quickly before it’s had time to get absorbed by the cake.
Well, that’s all there is to it! Hurry and get the ingredients today so you can make it for St. Patrick’s Day this Friday! What else do you have on you menu for Friday?? Let me know in the comments below!
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Irish Cream Tres Leches Cake
For the cake:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs white and yolks separated
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the tres leches mixture:
- 1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur (I used Bailey's Original Irish Cream)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
For the topping:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 18 chocolate-covered espresso beans
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x13 casserole dish or baking pan. This is important so the cake doesn't stick! In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 5 egg yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar. Beat with a beater attachment until the yolks turn a very light yellow, about 4-5 minutes. Add milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Pour yolk mixture over the flour mixture and gently fold together just until combined.
- Clean the bowl of the stand mixer. Add egg whites and beat on high until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Add beaten egg whites to the rest of the mixture and slowly and gently fold together until it's almost completely combined.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pan and smooth out with a spatula. Place in preheated oven to bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown on top. It may be done sooner than 35 minutes but it's important that the cake is golden brown on top so that it soaks up the leches.
- When the cake is done, remove from oven and let it cool in the pan on top of a wire rack until completely cool (about 1 hour). Once cool, flip cake upside down onto a serving platter.
- Using a fork, poke hole all over the top of the cake. This will help the leches soak through the cake. Make leches mixture as directed below.
For the tres leches mixture:
- Mix Irish cream, heavy cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together in a large bowl. Slowly pour the mixture all over the cake and make sure to get the edges too. There will be some pooling on top and on the sides but don't worry, that will all get soaked up.
- Place cake in the fridge to soak for 30 minutes. Then, you will top with whipped cream, as directed below.
For the topping:
- When the cake has set for at least 30 minutes, it's time to top with Irish whipped cream. Place 2 cups of heavy cream, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and 1/2 cup of Irish cream in the bowl of stand mixer. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.
- Dump out whipped cream all over the cake and begin spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. I didn't spread along the edges, but you can if you want to.
- Place 18 chocolate covered espresso beans on top of the cake, evenly spaced. I spaced them so that the bean would sit in the middle of each slice.
- Let the cake sit for another 30 minutes before serving. The cake tastes even better the next day, so, if you can wait, let it sit overnight before serving. But I don't blame you if you can't 😉