(Photography & Written By: Jessica Bilich)
One of the best parts of Carnival season is indulging in the famous and deliciously sweet king cake. During the season, local bakeries make their signature king cakes. This year, Latin markets and bakeries have joined these bakeries by making their own version of the king cake – a tres leches king cake.
The tres leches king cake is a combination of New Orleans and Latin pastries.
Tres leches cake originated in Latin America. This sponge cake is immersed in three types of milk – evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. Some tres leches cake recipes replace the heavy cream with whole milk. It is said that tres leches cake was created for the sole purpose of promoting and boosting sales of evaporated and condensed milk.
The king cake tradition was brought to New Orleans in 1870. The king cake is a round shape consisted of a coffee and French pastry. The sugar coating and sprinkles that cover the king cake are in three significant colors: purple which means “justice”. green which means “faith”, and gold which means “power”. The colors resemble the crown of the three wise men who visited Jesus Christ on Epiphany.
Today, the king cake consists of a plastic baby which resembles luck and prosperity. The tradition is when someone gets the slice of king cake with the baby, that person has to purchase the next king cake.
The tres leches king cake is a moist, sweet, and soft sponge cake that is submerged in the three different kinds of milk. The colors purple, green, and gold can be found on the inside and outside of the cake. The outside of the cake consists of a whipped cream layer topped with caramelized sugar coating which creates a warm and creamy taste.
This Carnival season, Latin markets and bakeries have given us the chance to taste and celebrate two different cultures coming together as one through a tres leches king cake – a Mardi Gras tradition with some Latin flavor.