23 January 2010

A Culinary Journey to Nicaragua with Joan of FOODalogue

Tres Leche Cake

Joan of FOODalogue has started the year off with another armchair travel adventure with her Culinary Tour 2010 - South of the Border . I really enjoyed travelling with Joan last year and you will too!!!! If you haven't heard of this very popular event check out her site for all the round-ups of delicious recipes and stories by all the participants. This year she has featured the cuisine of 10 of our south-of-the-border neighbours. So far we have travelled to Mexico where we sipped on tequila and margaritas and enjoyed each others company virtually. Then we travelled to El Salvador and the "Ruta de las Flores" (Route of Flowers) where we enjoyed the fiesta atmosphere at the feria gastronómica (food festival) in a small mountain village. Each one of these destinations in her culinary tour challenges you to create a dish outside of your comfort zone and experience new taste and food sensations. You can also do a little armchair travelling and daydreaming through your tastebuds. Our next stop in our armchair travel is:


According to Wikipedia "Nicaragua is the largest nation in Central America, but also the least densely populated with a demographic similar in size to its smaller neighbors. It is located about midway between Mexico and Colombia, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Nicaragua ranges from the Atlantic Ocean on the nation's east coast, and the Pacific Ocean bordering the west. Nicaragua also possesses a series of islands and cays located in the Atlantic Ocean."

 Nicaragua is a lush and tropical place. It is also the safest country in Central America with some of the friendliest people in the world.

"La comida Nica," as Nicaraguans call their cuisine, is a Latin/Creole mix of indigenous and Spanish dishes and ingredients. As with the other countries we have visited so far corn, beans, plantains, yuca and pork are popular ingredients here. Corn is a used frequently and you can always find it roasted and served throughout the countries by street vendors. Seafood is also common along the Caribbean coast. Although the food in Nicaragua is similar to the cuisine of it's neighbours it certainly has its own flair!!!! Typical dishes include nacatamales (smashed corn and potatoes wrapped in a banana leaf with pork and tomato), vigorón, indio viejo and  gallo pinto (which is fried rice and pinto beans). Other special dishes include Mondongo (tripe soup), Rosquillas (a type of cheese and cornmeal biscuit), Picadillo (shredded beef) and Ajiaco (pork and tortilla dish) to name a few. Tortillas are a normal addition as well, and often used to scoop up the food instead of using utensils. Nicaraguans make extensive use of a wide variety of tropical fruits which grow in their temperate climate. Plantain is also often used in many dishes with fried plantain being a staple in many dishes.

If white sand beaches, surfing, and Salsa dancing all appeal to you, couple it up with some volunteer work as a ‘VolunTourist’ for Comunidad Connect on your trip to Nicaragua. The non-profit’s mission is promoting sustainable development in Nicaragua’s Pacific Southwest including local community projects.

Unique to this volunteer vacation however, is the fact that we were able to lodge with a Nicaraguan family as part of a homestay where you have the unique opportunity to experience local life...virtually of course. This was an incredible opportunity to taste the local culture and food and brush up on Spanish! We were able to choose from a variety of volunteer opportunities from planting trees, beach cleanups, agricultural projects or working with rural kids.

As volunteers we were able to enjoy the white sand beaches, go surfing, fishing, horseback riding, or just relax in town and watch an unforgettable sunset. Other activities included visits to museums and colonial sites, volcano hikes, Spanish classes, Salsa dancing, and even authentic cooking classes. Because Nicaragua is not as “discovered” as other Central American countries, VolunTourists can enjoy these incredible sites and activities in peace and tranquility.

“What I liked best was the breathtaking natural scenery that surrounded me everyday, as well as the details particular to San Juan del Sur, from the packaging of candies, soda in plastic bags in the little pulperias to the people watching, the open doors to people’s homes, the music coming from the giant stereo systems in the living rooms, the hammocks and the smells of earth, ocean, fried food and flowers.”

So what would I bring to the table on Joan's Virtual Culinary Tour??????Dessert of course!!!!!I can't wait to see what the others have brought to the table this time around on our virtual tour. I know it sounds as though I have already visited this beautiful country with this post, but perhaps that is just wishful thinking. For now I will be content to travel with Joan in my armchair...for now.

"Pastel de Tres Leches" or "Tres Leches Cake" is named for the three milks in the soaking liquid (Leche means milk in Spanish). The three milks in the soaking sauce for Tres Leches are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. In this case I added a little rum and vanilla to make it shine. The heavy cream is also whipped up to use as the topping.  Due to the rich ingredients and the fact that it is soaked in a creamy syrup, Tres Leches Cake is extremely dense and moist, almost like a custard. This is an amazing recipe which I adapted from one I found on The Pioneer Woman Cooks. The three milks, when combined, create just the right sweetness, density and "mouth feel" for a rich cake, making it moist but not mushy. It is definitely at it's best when allowed to sit overnight to allow the liquids to be soaked in completely.

The famous cake of three milks is believed to have originated in Nicaragua. With the cuisines so closely knit with it's neighbours there is dispute over where it was first created. It is thought to have come  from Nicaragua by most historians. This cake is very popular in Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. Evaporated milk and condensed milk were sold throughout Central and South America and even the Caribbean because it does not need refrigeration.

Although the cake can be served right away it is even better the next day. Just be careful to cover it well and not add the whipped cream topping until the day you are going to eat this. The cake will absorb any odours in your refrigerator.

**Tres Leches Cake**

1 cup all-purpose flour
1-½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoons salt
5 whole eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cups milk

For Syrup

1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
¼ cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon rum

For the Topping:

1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
3 tablespoons sugar ( I used icing sugar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, rum and vanilla in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for a minimum of 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.

Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries, or as in this case drizzle with dulce de leche. Cut into squares and serve.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Well, this is the way to start Saturday with a BAM and WOW.
    One day I'm going to try this cake at home.

  2. That looks to die for! Mmmhhh, i'd love a slice, please!



  3. How fun! I made a Tres Leches Cake for a Cuban dinner party last year- it was my first tres leches cake & I absolutely fell in love with it!! Yours looks lovely with that bit of caramel drizzled on top.

  4. Hola, Val. Great job on Nicaragua. Readers will definitely get a real feel for the country and the cuisine. And your Tres Leches cake looks terrific. I've tasted it before and it is probably the most moist cake ever. Love the drizzle and addition of rum, or rón as they say in Spanish.

  5. Tres Leches cake is possibly one of the best inventions ever. It is just fantastic. But then again, I am a caramel addict.

  6. Your tres leches cake looks delicious!!!!!

  7. I love tres leches cake! It is popular in Colombia too.

  8. I love how moist tres leche cake is, you never have to worry about it drying out. And the addition of dulche de leche on top is ingenious.

  9. Another country well done Val. This cake looks absolutely sinful and a party for the mouth.

  10. I tried this once and my guests didn't like it :( Perhaps I should try your recipe. It looks wonderful.

  11. I've been wanting to try and make this for a long time! Interesting to note that it was developed in Nicaragua...again your coverage is sensational Val...glad I'm travelling with you! Wait till you see what I'm offering! Gracias for all the information on the torta.

  12. I have absolutely NO restraint against tres leches cake. It is one of my favorite cakes for sure and if I ever see it on a menu, it gets ordered no matter how full I am. This looks so delicious.

  13. I love this recipe wanna try it

  14. Your blog looks superyummy with a picture and recipe of Tres Leche Cake. Wish If I could taste it. It can be perfect Valentine gift.

  15. Lovely post and the cake looks yummy!

  16. Absolutely nothing wrong with this cake!!! Heavens, Val!!! I am dying for a piece!!!

  17. when thinking about moist cakes, none comes to mind more quickly than tres leches. this one looks perfect!

  18. Great post! I've never made this cake, but I've eaten it and it's one of the best things that I've ever tasted. Interesting to learn a little bit about its origins. Thanks! ; )

  19. Tres leche - tres superb!!! This looks delicious.

  20. I am really loving this cake Val!

  21. Gorgeous cake! I love the drizzle of caramel sauce on top.

    I seriously knew nothing about Nicaraguan food before reading this post. Today I've learned something new and have you to thank! Your armchair travel series is such a cool concept.

  22. Dulce de Leche slays me each & every time!

  23. A spectacular dessert! A must try for sure!

  24. Delicious! I have always wanted to try this cake.

  25. I have always loved this cake. It's also my mother's favorite thing for me to bake for her. There is a Latin market down the street from me that sells the cans of "crema" from various Latin American countries that I am dying to try in the recipe some time.

    How the world has changed! The idea of traveling to Nicuragua was unthinkable when I was growing up.

  26. This has always been one of my favorite cakes, love the topping you have on there.

  27. Thank you Dear for the message at my Blog. Yes, I like the book very much and find it so useful. I've given the link for the purchase of the book in my blog too.

  28. The cake looks perfect!

  29. Vall!! I adore Tres Leches is one of my favorites and this look absolutely georgeou! (LOL)


  30. Here is soo popular too Vall! we love it! gloria

  31. I've always wanted to taste this cake - great opportunity to make it!!

  32. Val you are tempting me to make that cake. It looks heavenly.

  33. Tres leches cake is absolutely heavenly!

  34. Every time I see tres leches cakes, I want to eat them, yet I never have made one. I think I should keep this recipe and maybe, that will get me going. It looks sensational.

  35. Los Ranchos is a steakhouse chain of restaurants located in South Florida. They make a delicious tres leches. They also make this to-die-for mild jalapeno cream sauce which goes great with meat and seafood. If you ever visit south Florida be sure to stop by your closest Los Ranchos.

    I was a huge fan of 'Survivor: Nicaragua' on CBS and the reality TV show inspired my friends and I to go surfing there. It's such a beautiful country with lush green landscaping and gorgeous beaches. And the seafood is so fresh!

    There are still some areas you don't want to wander about on your own. It's like Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. You stay in the resort/touristy areas and only travel with guides and tour buses when visiting other towns.

    We stayed in a gorgeous beachfront hotel with an infinity swimming pool and payed literally 50% of what we would have paid at a Cancun or Cozumel resort in Mexico.


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