Unique Tres Leches Cake with a Cinnamon Cookie Crumble

The Famous Mexican milk cake, the pastel de tres leches, topped with a cinnamon sugar cookie crumble

easy cookie recipes, desserts, and baking fun things

Joanne Adirim

Founder & Executive Pastry Chef

AUG 11, 2022

For 25 years, Joanne has served as the Founder and Executive Pastry Chef at Hannahmax Baking. Known for her best in class reputation, Joanne and her baking company have crafted gourmet desserts for fine dining establishments, coffee cafes, hotels, & grocery companies across North America. In 2022, she launched the Cookie Chips® Baking Mix, a cookie mix that's shaking up home baking with its bakery quality results. In From The Pastry Kitchen, she shares her industry earned expertise with the home baking community.

The “three milks cake,” affectionately referred to as a “Tres Leches” in Spanish,

is a super popular dessert in Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guatemala. Basically, in much of Central Latin America. The cake itself is quite simple. A yellow cake or sponge cake soaked in a three milk mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk or cream. The final dessert is traditionally topped with sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit.
This cake entered popular culture back in the early 1930’s when Nestle printed the recipe on the back of their condensed milk cans that were sold across Latin America. However, Nestle cannot be credited with inventing the Tres Leches Cake. The origin story of this milk cake can be traced further back than Nestle’s can recipe, but when exactly is unknown. Today, Tres Leches is considered the original Mexican Cake, due to its popular status within Mexican desserts as the cake of celebration in Mexico and within its bordering areas. You’ll find the Tres Leches as a centerpiece for birthdays, graduations, quinceaneras, and even weddings.

 In the United States, this cake has become a diner’s delight at chic Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants. With a strong Mexican population in places like California and Texas, you’ll see this milk cake being served at many celebrations. As the US Latin community grows, Tres Leches also grows in popularity. This dessert has become a staple in American culture.

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In my Los Angeles based, wholesale baking company, one of our most popular individual serve desserts was our Individual Tres Leches cake. We soaked cut layers of yellow cake in our homemade cinnamon tres leches filling and sandwiched them between a rich vanilla custard. Then, we topped each milk cake with sweetened whipped cream. It wasn’t traditional, but definitely delicious.
tres leches cake with crumble topping

Fresh fruit is a traditional inclusion to an authentic tres leches cake recipe.

I love this dessert and I’ve been wondering how I could incorporate Cookie Chips® into this delicious ethnic treat. I didn’t want to detract from the traditional soft and creamy texture, but I wanted to do something with a twist. It didn’t take long to realize that my Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Chips® Baking Mix makes an amazing crunchy crumble topping. I’ve already created a Berry Crisp from our Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix and that crunch is heavenly.


I love creating creamy and crunchy textures for dessert recipes. The idea of a cinnamon sugar cookie crumble topping for this creamy milk cake offered a twist that made this dessert recipe extra special. The crumble topping is easy to make. One bag of my Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Mix with a little neutral oil blended in creates delicious crunchy crumbles. They top the cake beautifully. Made too much crumble? Freeze the extra crumble or use it as a yummy crunchy topping for your ice cream. Enjoy this easy cake recipe that’ll be sure to become a staple at your dinner parties and social gatherings.


The Tres Leches Cake Recipe with Cinnamon Cookie Crumble

milk cake crumble topping

The cinnamon sugar cookie crumble topping adds a kick to this milk cake.

mexican desserts easy tres leches

The Tres Leches is topped with a traditional heavy whipped cream frosting.

pastel de tres leches dessert recipe

Serve this Mexican dessert with fresh fruit.

Ingredients

Crumble

Cookie Chips® Cinnamon Sugar - 1 bag.

• Neutral oil (eg. canola, refined olive, sunflower) - ½ cup + 1-2 tsp.

Cake

Yellow cake mix - 1 box.

Filling

• Evaporated milk - 12 oz.

• Sweetened condensed milk - 14 oz.

• Heavy whipping cream or whole milk - ¼ cup.

Possible additions for the filling:

• Rum - 2 tbsp.

• Zest of one small orange.

• Ground cinnamon - 1 tbsp.

Topping

• Heavy whipping cream - 16 oz.

• Powdered sugar - ¼ cup.

• Ground cinnamon

easy dessert recipes for a crowd

All the ingredients you'll need for this pastel de tres leches.

To Make

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F. For crumble topping, blend cookie mix with oil until large clumps form. Place clumps on a parchment paper lined sheet pan spacing them apart so they don’t clump together when baking. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool.


2.  Using a 9x9 or 9x12 cake pan, spray with baking spray and line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside. Using cake mix, follow directions for making the batter. Place in the cake pan and bake according to directions.


3.  While the cake is baking, make the filling by mixing the condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream or whole milk together. If adding in any rum, orange zest or cinnamon, or all three, blend it in well now. 


4.  Whip the cream topping with sifted powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use. (Do not pre-whip the cream if keeping the cake in the refrigerator overnight).


5.  When the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes all around the top. Pour your milk filling all over the top of the cake and allow it to fully absorb. Refrigerate for an hour and up to overnight.


6.  Spread whipped cream on top in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle cinnamon and place crunchy crumbles over the top.


7.  Eat immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months well wrapped.

How to make tres leches cake

I served this cake for dessert after a late afternoon lunch with friends. It was a hit. People love the pastel de tres leches for its sweetness and simplicity.

Crispy crunchy cookies in 15 minutes.

Make bakery quality, thin & crispy cookies in 15 minutes. These pastry chef crafted, easy bake Cookie Chips® are so delicious.


Like everything that I bake, this mix uses artisan, non GMO, simple ingredients, and no artificial junk.


Let's get baking!

fun things to bake with easy dessert recipes

Joanne Adirim, Founder & Executive Pastry Chef

Get the mix from the recipe. ⬊

Crunchy Cookie Mix

$9.99