Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tres Leches Cupcakes

At the end of last year, my team and I had lunch at Mama Cucina and all we talked about while we were waiting for our food to be brought to the table was FOOD!  I was telling them that I wanted to branch out and experience food from different cultures because Dave and I tend to eat at the same places over and over, and mostly at chains.  I know that's bad...

Richmond is full of fantastic locally-owned restaurants and we (my team and I) thought it would be a good idea to do a monthly lunch called 'Cuisines of the World' and visit local ethnic restaurants to experience different flavors.  We started the world tour in January, and have been to places like House of Vietnam, Kanpai (chain?), Emilio's, and both Lebanese and Greek Food Festivals.

That's a heavy concentration in Asia and Europe, so we decided our next stop should be somewhere in Africa or South America.  I hear there's an awesome Ethiopian restaurant downtown, Nile, but it's too far... everyone has heard good things about Ipanema Grill but they're only open for dinner, and Texas de Brazil didn't get good feedback from the team because it's a chain.

So we decided we'd have a South American-themed potluck.  We're in the middle of a big project, so it will keep us in the building rather than going out for 2 hours for lunch, but we'll get to experience the flavors of South America all the same! :)  There has been much debate about what counts as a "South American" recipe.  Yes, Lima is the capital of Peru, but that doesn't mean lima bean salad counts!  And yes, there are a lot of South American rice dishes, but using rice in an Indian recipe doesn't count!  Cheaters!  But we let them slide :)

The potluck was today and I think we had a good turnout.  Not one piece of meat in the whole bunch, but all the side dishes together were filling enough without the meat.  Some of the dishes were vegetable pilaf, Argentinean potato salad, Chilean sweet potato (ok, that one's a stretch), quinoa and beans topped with sour cream...good stuff!   And for dessert, we could choose from flan, rice pudding, and my tres leches cupcakes.

I have to admit I've never tried tres leches cake before.  For some reason I thought it sounded weird or something and have steered clear of it.  But once I found the recipe while searching for something to bring to the potluck, I realized it's just vanilla cake drowned in 3 milks and topped with whipped cream.  Um, yum?  Why have I been afraid to try you all these years?  Not sure. 

Of course I decided to make cupcakes instead of cake, so I used my basic vanilla recipe to whip them up.  That recipe's coming in handy a lot lately - it's a good base for a ton of options.  Once the cupcakes were cooled, I used a wooden BBQ skewer to poke 5 or 6 holes in each one, poking all the way to the bottom. 

I measured my 3 milks (hence tres leches) - whipping cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk, and whisked them together, adding some caramel for good measure.  Why not, right?  I used a shot glass to pour the mixture over each cupcake.  The recipe said to drown them until they look like they can handle no more, and that's exactly what I did...

...except I think I went overboard, and the milk mixture overflowed!  All over the counter, down the front of the dishwasher, and onto the floor - what a mess! 

I put the milk-drowned cupcakes in the fridge for the night and cleaned up the milk all over the place.

I didn't put any frosting on them right away, because I chose to go the easier route and use fat free Redd-wip as the topping, instead of using more whipping cream...trying to save at least a couple calories.  So I brought that with me to work along with the cupcakes and some cinnamon, and let people create their own topping.  Reddi-wip is pissy and doesn't hold its shape very well if you use it too early.

Here's the finished product about to go in my belly:


  1. Ipanema grill is actually closing.. :(
    & the Nile Ethopian restaurant is really pricey.

    Other good places to try:

    Kuba Kuba (cuban food!)
    Jamaica House (jamaican..obviously)
    Cous Cous (mediterranean morrocan)
    Elephant Thai (thai)
    Sine Irish Pub (irish..yeah)

  2. well then we need to get there quick! maybe the team could leave work early and have a nice dinner there...

    kuba kuba is def. on the short list, but whenever i mention a restaurant downtown they cringe because it's so far away from our building...i'm working on it :)

    thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Those look SO delicious. Will have to try them. Are they kind of mushy when you eat them? I've always been a little hesitant of tres leches cake...

  4. I was worried they would be mushy too, but they weren't - just really, really moist and dense.

    Definitely try them! :)