It's Mardi Gras time, so we're sharing the ultimate dessert from famed New Orleans chef and TV personality Emeril Lagasse. Served at his restaurant, Meril, this tres leches king cake combines two of our favorite desserts in one. Lagasse soaks a cinnamon sponge cake like a traditional tres leches before topping it with whipped cream and colored sugar. It's the perfect festive dessert for Mardi Gras, beads not included.
And to ensure you really enjoy the party, make this cake in advance. Once the cake is soaking, you can leave it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve. Then all it needs are the finishing touches, and you're ready for a wild night.
To learn more, read "Easy Does It."
Emeril's Tres Leches King Cake
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse and Bergen Carman, Meril, New Orleans, LA
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time
For the King Cake:
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs, separated
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup, plus 3 tablespoons whole milk
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, granulated sugar
½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, dark brown sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
1½ cups heavy cream
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
For the Whipped Cream and Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Purple, gold and green sugar or sprinkles, for garnish
1. Make the king cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to combine. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg whites to medium peaks and set aside. In one more medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, cinnamon and vanilla.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugars with the oil and egg yolks until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients followed by the sour cream mixture and mix until a smooth batter forms. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the whipped egg whites until incorporated.
3. Transfer the batter to a greased 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Bake, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 minutes. Let cool.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk to combine. Poke the cooled cake with a toothpick or skewer all over, then slowly pour 3 cups of the cream mixture over the cake, reserving the rest for serving. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until soaked and chilled, at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
5. Meanwhile, make the whipped cream: In a large bowl, whisk the cream, sugar and salt to stiff peaks.
6. Once soaked, spread the whipped cream over the cake and decorate with purple, gold and green sugar or sprinkles. Cut into squares and transfer to shallow bowls. Pour some of the reserved cream mixture around the cake, then serve.