Serves 12
Makes one 9X13-inch cake

From Latin America, this moist cake melts in your mouth because it is soaked in three kinds of milk—tres leches. Our version uses heavy cream, sour cream, and whole milk. We could have added rum, which is traditional, but instead use a healthy dose of local Clear Creek Kirschwasser (cherry brandy), because we like how it perfumes the milk. This cake keeps well in the refrigerator for up to four days and only gets better with time.

Chef’s Tip: Vitaly Paley

I often use Clear Creak Distillery’s Kirschwasser and apple brandy for cooking. Their pear brandy is also superb. It feels fat in the mouth and is also rich with the essence of pear. I encourage you to check with your local liquor store as to the availability of these handcrafted brandies. Or contact Clear Creek to find out where it’s sold in your area.




9 large eggs, separated

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup whole milk

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt



3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar

5 large egg yolks

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

6 to 8 tablespoons Kirschwasser (such as Clear Creek)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Marionberry Coulis (recipe below), Almond Cream (recipe below), Maple-Glazed Almonds (recipe below), Use fresh marionberries to garnish



Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9X13-inch baking pan with nonstick vegetable spray or lightly coat with butter. Set aside.

To make the cake, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 9 egg yolks and 2 cups sugar on high speed until the mixture becomes thick and pale in color, about 5 minutes. Add the 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of almond extract and mix on low speed until incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the baking powder with the milk and stir. In 3 batches, using a large spatula, fold the flour and milk mixture alternately into the yolk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Using the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the 9 egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Stop the mixer, add
the 1/2 teaspoon salt, and whisk at high speed until the whites form soft peaks. Using a large spatula, in 3 batches, gently fold the whites into the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake until golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour. The edges of the cake will have pulled away from the sides slightly.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely in the pan. Run a small knife around the edge of the pan, but do not remove the cake.

To make the cream filling, in a saucepan, combine the heavy cream and 3/4 cup sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Put the 5 egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture to temper the yolks.

In another bowl, combine the sour cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons of almond extract, the Kirschwasser, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk smooth and slowly add the yolk-cream mixture, whisking to combine.

To finish the cake, poke holes with a wooden skewer over the entire surface. Slowly ladle a cup of the cream filling over the surface. Repeat until all the cream filling has been evenly absorbed. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Spread the cooled cake with almond cream or use it to garnish each individual serving. To serve, cut the chilled cake into wedges, and garnish with marionberry coulis and fresh marionberries. Sprinkle with maple-glazed almonds.


Marionberry Coulis (makes 2 cups)


2 pints marionberries, plus more for garnish

1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons freshly

squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of salt



Place all the ingredients in a blender and liquefy. Strain through a sieve to remove any seeds. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Almond Cream (makes about 2 cups)


1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream



In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the sour cream, sugar, salt, and almond extract on low speed until blended. Increase the speed to medium and slowly add the cream. Increase the speed to high and whisk until the cream forms soft peaks. Spread the almond cream over the entire surface of the cake, or use it to garnish each individual serving.


Maple-Glazed Almonds (makes 2 cups)


2 cups sliced almonds

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Pinch of salt



Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. In a bowl, add the almonds, drizzle with maple syrup, and sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine and coat the nuts.

Spread the nuts on the prepared pan. Bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Chef Vitaly Paley
From Paley's Place in Portland, Oregon | + posts