While it is still a matter of discussion and controversy whether this dessert is of Latin American or East-Central European origin we Turks apparently have embraced it with great devotion and seem to have made it our own in this past year or so! The popularity of this dessert is simply mindblowing! The mysterious part is that noone knows exactly how or why it grew to become such a phenomenal dessert. There are a few different urban legends on this but I’d rather not go into that here.
I had heard and read about the Latin American dessert Torta de Tres Leches several years ago but the version we’re talking about here is quite a bit different than that. We seem to have adopted and adapted the recipe either from Albania or Bosnia-Herzegovina. I was intrigued by the indulgence people were showing in this seemingly simple dessert and the fact that it had so rapidly taken place on the menus of nearly every single restaurant, café or bistro on an almost nationwide basis. Its popularity which was literally converting into a form of what I refer to as “the trileche mania” had started to get on my nerves! So I did some research on the topic and read innumerable articles and went through a tremendous amount of recipes including those of Latin American origin. But rest assured I have no intentions of even summarizing my findings, let alone mentioning them in detail! The final destination of my enquiries and all the research was to find a reliable recipe to try at home. Finally I found one from an Instagram friend, and blogger likewise, Buket Cengiz @huzurlu_mutfak whom I know is an experienced homecook. I just made a few little adjustments and changed the caramel sauce a little bit and voilà! Perfect result on first trial.
To sum it all up before moving on to the recipe I’d like to point out that as you probably know the name of this dessert in itself requires using 3 different milks. And to the extent of my knowledge, these should be: cow, goat, and buffalo milk. I’ve tried making it once with only cow milk and cream. On my second trial I used a mixture of goat and cow milk plus cream. I didn’t make any attempts to incorporate buffalo milk since it is not easily available. All in all, I have to admit that the addition of goat milk did in fact make a subtle and pleasant difference in flavor although I didn’t think it would.
Mind you, this version differs totally from its Latin American cousin and it may differ from many other recipes of Albanian or Bosnian origin. Yet, what matters to me here is that this is exactly the way I’d like to have my trileche dessert. So my quest has ended in sweet victory and my trileche mission has been accomplished to the full satisfaction of all family members! No need for you to go through all the trouble. Just trust me and try this one!
(Makes 12 servings)
For sponge cake
- 5 Large eggs, separated
- 130 gr caster sugar
- 110 gr all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 sachet vanillin sugar or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For milk syrup
- 200 ml fresh whipping cream (unsweetened)
- 700 ml milk
- 4 heaping tbsp caster sugar
For caramel sauce
- 6 tbsp caster sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 200 ml fresh cream (unsweetened)
- 2 tbsp butter
Step by step method
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- Heat oven to 175 C. Grease and dust with flour an ovenproof dish of about 12×8 inches (32×22 cm).
- Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until you obtain soft peaks. Now add half of the sugar (65 gr) gradually into the egg whites and beat until stiff and glossy.
- In a separate bowl beat egg yolks, the remaining sugar (65 gr) and vanilla on high speed until color turns pale.
- Sift flour and baking powder and add in 2-3 parts into the egg yolk mixture mixing on low speed or manually.
- Now fold in one third of egg whites into the batter. Then add the remaining egg whites and fold gently with a silicone spatula until no streaks of white remain.
- Pour batter into prepared dish and bake on medium rack for about 35-40 mns. Set aside to cool.
- To make the milk syrup, pour the cream in a deep bowl, add the sugar and beat lightly with a whisk until sugar melts into cream. Now add milk and mix.
- Use a bamboo skewer or fork to make plenty of little holes in the cake. Then use a ladle to gently pour syrup over cake. It will soak up nearly all of it, don’t worry! Leave cake drenched in milk syrup to cool and soak the milk for at least 3-4 hours or overnight (if you can resist!)
- Once cake has absorbed nearly all of the milk and has been thoroughly chilled in the fridge make the caramel sauce and pour over, using a spatula to spread it out evenly if necessary. Leave to cool and set at least 3 to 4 hours or preferably overnight before serving.
To make caramel sauce
Put 6 tbsp of caster sugar with 3 tbsp water in a stainless steel saucepan. Place over low heat and cook for about 8-10 mns. until color turns a dark amber color. Do not mix, only swirl saucepan gently a couple of times, if necessary.
- Now carefully add 1 tbsp butter, whisk until it melts. Then slowly and carefully add 200 ml fresh cream. Continue to whisk and don’t worry if a few lumps appear.
- While caramel gently simmers over low heat, mix 2-3 tsp cornstarch with 2-3 tbsp water to make a slurry and add this to the pan. Now whisk until caramel obtains a thicker consistency (a couple of more minutes).