Tres leches cake balls

Tres leches cake balls

The Desserts of New York
Alicia Taylor

I have a few New York dessert heroes and Christina Tosi is one of them. Among other things, she champions leftovers, such as cake cuttings, which she turns into cake truffles (delicious balls of moistened cake coated in white chocolate and sweet crumbs). Without fail, I’d grab a pack of b’day truffles every time I walked home past Milk Bar in East Village. They are – and I can’t believe I’m making this call – my favourite New York dessert (well, at least in the top five).

These cake balls are inspired by another flavour combination cherished in New York – the Mexican three-milk cake known as tres leches. At Doughnut Plant, the classic is reimagined as epic tres leches cake doughnuts, while Empellón Cocina serves a chocolate tres leches special. Here, they’re just spiced, smooth as chocolate ganache and dusted in sweet milk powder.


Quantity Ingredient
225g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3 eggs
220g caster sugar
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
125ml milk
2 tablespoons milk powder
2 tablespoons pure icing sugar
120g white chocolate, melted

Tres leches soak

Quantity Ingredient
80ml evaporated milk
80ml pouring cream, plus extra if needed
125ml sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon natural vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a round 20 cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 10 minutes or until light and tripled in volume. In two batches, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, whisking on low speed until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30–35 minutes or until the centre of the cake springs back when gently touched. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the tin.
  3. To make tres leches soak, place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Remove the cooled cake from the tin and, using a large serrated knife, trim the top, bottom and sides so only the white centre remains. Tear the cake centre into pieces, place in a food processor and process to fine crumbs. Pour over the tres leches soak and process until very smooth, adding an extra 1 tablespoon cream if necessary (you want the mixture to be moist but firm enough to roll into a ball). Refrigerate for 1 hour to firm slightly.
  5. Combine the milk powder and icing sugar in one bowl and place the melted white chocolate in a separate bowl. Roll the cake mixture into 3–4 c balls. Working with one ball at a time, coat in a thin layer of chocolate, using your fingers to spread it evenly, then coat generously in the milk powder mixture, shaking off the excess. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours for the chocolate to set and the flavours to infuse. Serve chilled or at room temperature. The balls will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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