Hola, amigos! Last weekend I decided to treat myself to a nice, big, yummy slice of Tres Leches cakes. This type of cake is very popular here in Mexico, and no party is complete without it. It’s so sweet and soft that it seems to melt in your mouth with every bite. Plus, this cake was extra special because we celebrated a very important milestone in our family. It was very Tres Leches worthy!
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Tres Leches cake is very popular in Mexico and all over Latin America. The name Tres Leches means “three milks”, which is a reference to the three different kinds of milk used in the recipe. It’s a very sweet, fluffy, soft, and moist kind of cake, sort of like a sponge cake. It’s usually covered in a thick layer of whipped cream or meringue, and sometimes candied fruit is also added as decoration. Very decadent, indeed.
There’s a whole controversy about where the recipe came from. Some say it came from Mexico, others claim it’s actually from Nicaragua, and there’s another version that places the birth of Tres Leches cake in Miami. In any case, Tres Leches cake is clearly a descendant of the European-style confectionery popular in Latin America since the 19th century.
I must confess I have never tried to make Tres Leches cake. Baking is just not my strong suit. However, here in Mexico you can find a decent Tres Leches cake in just about any corner. In fact, bakeries and confectionery shops are found on almost every Mexican street. Mexicans are very fond of desserts, cakes, and any sweet bread, and confectionery is a big tradition. I believe this preference originated during the French Invasion in the 19th century. Merci, France!
Even though I can’t bake to save my life, I will still share with you a few Tres Leches cake recipes that you can try. Start clicking!
Last weekend, we decided to go out and get a big, delicious Tres Leches cake to have a private little celebration ahead of my oldest son’s 18th birthday. This is an important occasion for him and the whole family. He is our oldest son, the oldest grandson, and the first in this generation to come of age. It is also an extra special occasion because there was a time when we thought this day would never come. Let me explain.
The Miracle Baby
My oldest son was born 18 years ago at 28 weeks. He was such a tiny, little baby that I could fit his entire backside on the palm of my hand. He could not breathe on his own, and he had a cardiorespiratory arrest when he was transferred to a major hospital. The doctors told my husband and I that our baby had only very slim chances of survival. For two months, we could do nothing but watch as our precious little baby fought for his life in a little corner of the NICU.
Now, 18 years later, he is here with us and he is all grown up. He has no visible reminders of his premature birth, only a scar on his neck from where a catheter was inserted during his prolongued hospital stay. He was our miracle baby, and now he is a young man.
In Mexico, like in most other countries, an 18-year-old can legally work, drive, drink, get married, and vote. Not that he’s planning to do all of those things at once, I hope. In a few weeks, he’ll register and get his voting card. This is important, because a voting card in Mexico is the most commonly used official form of identification. With it, he can also get his driver’s license, apply for a job, and yes, buy liquor if he wants to.
All 18-year-old Mexican males must complete a compulsory military service. My son has had to cut off his long, curly locks and now sports a close-cropped cut. He will soon march into the local recruitment office and register for his military service. Later in the year, he will go to the nearest military base with all the other local 18-year-old boys, and attend a draw. If he is selected, he will have basic military training during the weekends for a whole year. If not, he’ll just return to the local recruitment office next year to get his military service slip. Most young men hope they get the second option.
This compulsory military service is not something that a guy can easily get out of. Without a military service slip, a man cannot apply for certain government-issued documents, like a passport, or for a job in public service. But more importantly, it is also a civic duty. Many young Mexican men simply never register for it and nothing really happens, but in our family we believe in serving our country, so he’s not going to get of this one.
The Next Step
Also, this year my son will finish high school and he’ll have to apply for entrance to university. In Mexico, universities hold entrance exams at different dates, so students often have to take multiple exams during the year. It’s a hassle, and it can get expensive to pay for so many exams, but my son will probably take at least three of them. Hopefully, he’ll be admitted to either the state or the national university. Wish him luck!
As you can see, all this is worthy of at least one Tres Leches cake. Or maybe two. My husband and I are very proud of our oldest son. He is a kind, generous, courageous young man with big dreams and an even bigger heart. As he embarks on his own life voyage, we hope we’ll have many more occasions to celebrate with him, a chocolate Tres Leches cake included. Happy birthday to my grown up baby boy!
My son just got his voting card and his admission letter from the state university! My husband and I are happy and very proud of him. First of our kids to go to college, and hopefully not the last!