Delightfully sweet and indulgent, try these cake donuts, soaked in tres leche milks and glazed in a decadent dulce de leche topping.
So these donuts, they’re not fried, but that doesn’t mean they’re not every bit as good as if they were. When we first moved here to Chile we lived in a really tiny, middle-of-nowhere, town and our friends and neighbors were a bit fanatical about the tres leches cake. Honestly, when I think back to that first year I’m always surprised at how well my family weathered the culture shock without mentally breaking down. We didn’t even speak Spanish for goodness sake and we still don’t speak it well.
Anyway though, tres leche (three milk) cake is one of the few foods that Chilean culture has in common with Mexico. As you may know, it’s a cake that you drench in a combination of different milks. It’s a staple here and so is manjar – or as it’s called in Mexico, dulce de leche.
I’ve wanted to use them both in a recipe for ages, but I thought a doughnut would be a better form for the same idea because there’s so much more dry edge to absorb the three milks without getting too wet. The dulce de leche icing is, well, just the icing on the cake (imagine that).
The cake part is a thick, yet fluffy cake that’s only slightly sweet, and perfect for absorbing all the sweetened dairy you’re going to pour on it. It’s extremely easy to make too, because so many of the ingredients are things you probably already have in your pantry. This was one of those recipes that I felt compelled to test over and over to find the best ratios and methods. One of the things I tested was how much difference there is in whipping the egg whites versus simply mixing them into the batter whole. The verdict was that the difference wasn’t noticeable enough to be worth the hassle. Also, as you may imagine because the point of the cake is to be wet, they are a little bit messy so feel free to eat with a fork.
Step by Step Guide to Making Tres Leches Cake Donuts with Dulce de Leche Glaze
1. Start with the Dulce de Leche Glaze:
- Combine the milks, cream, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a 1-qt. nonstick pan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes deep caramel in color and thickens (about 2 hours).
- Strain the mixture into a bowl to ensure a smooth texture and set aside to cool.
2. Prepare the Sponge Cake Batter:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Generously grease each slot of a 12-count doughnut pan with butter. Dust with flour, shaking off any excess.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Mix in the salt, vanilla extract, and baking powder.
- Gradually add the flour, mixing just until combined.
- Using a spoon or a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, fill each donut mold up to the indicated line.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the donuts are golden brown on top.
- Remove from the oven and allow the donuts to cool slightly in the pan.
- Gently loosen the donuts using the edge of a thin spoon and transfer them to one or two large baking dishes or high-sided pans (e.g., two 13×9 inch pans).
- Gently poke holes all over the donuts using a toothpick or fork.
3. Prepare the Tres Leche Combo:
- Whisk together the three milks and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until well combined.
- Gently pour this mixture over the donuts, allowing them to absorb as much liquid as possible.
- Spoon any excess liquid that runs off back over the donuts to ensure they’re well-soaked.
4. Glaze and Serve:
- Once the Dulce de Leche glaze has cooled, dip each Tres Leche-soaked donut into the glaze, ensuring it’s well-coated.
- Place the glazed donuts on a tray or wire rack to dry.
- Serve once the glaze has set.
- As the Dulce de Leche glaze takes a while to prepare and cool, it’s best to start with it before making the donuts.
- When filling the molds with the batter you may find it hard not to make a mess. And if that’s the case you can scoop it into a pastry bag with a fat tip and just pipe it in.
Tori is a food blogger with a passion for what she does. She shares all her recipes, photography, and bits about her life living in Patagnia Chile on her blog, Gringalicious.