Tres Leches is a popular Mexican dessert and one of my favorites (only second to flan). To make Tres Leches, you take a spongy cake and soak it in a mixture of three milks (usually evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and regular milk) and top with whipped cream and strawberries. And it’s divine! Part pudding, part cake, and completely delicious.
Now, because I love cavities and diabetes, I decided to try taking my recipe for Tres Leches and translating it to breakfast. I mean, what better way to start your day than with a stack of white flour soaked in sugar and cream? And more importantly, why am I trashing my own recipe? Basically just to acknowledge this is probably not something you want to eat every day :) So maybe save it for a special occasion . . . like Christmas!
Wouldn’t Christmas morning be a perfect occasion to indulge in a little dessert for breakfast? I think so! And Jack definitely agrees :) Yum!
Now for the really good news, you can make Tres Leches Pancakes up to 24 hours ahead! (Pancakes are fairly dense, so they can soak in the milk mixture for a long time without getting soggy.) If you do make it ahead, simply cover the baking dish with foil and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you can reheat everything in the oven (300 degrees for 15 minutes or so) or serve it cold. Add whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk drizzle and strawberries after warming, of course.
Tres Leches Pancakes
The key to this recipe is the mixture of three milks. The two liquors add extra flavor but are not necessary if you don’t have them around. For the pancakes, any simple recipe (or box mix) will work; just be sure it’s not super sweet, as the milk mixture is already very sweet on its own. Same goes for the whipped cream — unsweetened or lightly sweetened will be just right. Serve with a hot cup of strong coffee or a tall glass of milk, and enjoy!
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2 bottles (11.8 ounces each) La Lechera sweetened condensed milk
(If you can’t find the 11.8-oz. squeeze bottles, get a 14 oz. can instead. Fourteen ounces SCM is approximately one cup. Of that cup, you’ll use 3/4 cup for the milk mixture, and the remaining 1/4 cup for drizzling on top as a garnish.)
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla (or regular vanilla extract)
Optional for extra flavor: 1 Tablespoon light rum + 1 Tablespoon Frangelico
12 to 15 four-inch pancakes
Whipped cream, for garnish
Fresh strawberries, for garnish
In a medium saucepan, mix together cream, milk, one bottle (11.8 ounces or 3/4 cup) sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and liquors if using. Stir until well combined. Place saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, to allow flavors to combine, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let milk mixture cool a bit.
Meanwhile, make 12 to 15 pancakes.
Place pancakes in two layers in a large baking dish. Using a thin wooden skewer, poke a bunch of holes in the stack of pancakes — stab each one maybe 20 times all the way through the stack. (The holes help the milk mixture soak into the pancake.)
Pour about half of the milk mixture over the pancakes, and let soak for 20 minutes.
Using your hands, gently flip each stack of two pancakes, so the top pancake is now the bottom pancake and can thus get a little extra soaking time in any liquid collected in the bottom of the dish. Pour the second half of the milk mixture over the pancakes and let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes more, or up to 24 hours.
Pssst . . . while you’re waiting, splash a little rum, cream and sweetened condensed milk in your coffee. Then hold your mug with two hands and pretend you’re looking out at a snow-capped mountain in one of those old Folgers commercials. Ahhhhh, the good life.
Okay, back to business. Using a spatula, transfer stacks of 2 or 3 pancakes to individual plates. If there is liquid left in the baking dish, scoop it out with a spoon and drizzle over each plate of pancakes. Top each stack with whipped cream. Using your second bottle of sweetened condensed milk (you won’t use it all), drizzle a little extra over the whipped cream, top with strawberries and serve!
MAKE AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS: Tres Leches Pancakes can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Follow instructions above for making the milk mixture, the pancakes and soaking the pancakes in the baking dish. Then cover the baking dish with foil and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you can reheat everything in the oven (300 degrees for 15 minutes or so), or serve it cold. Add whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk drizzle and strawberries after warming, of course.