Emeril’s King Cake Tres Leches

The Big Easy turns 300 this year – yes, New Orleans is celebrating it’s Tricentennial. The city has a diverse heritage which includes Mardi Gras falling on February 13th this year.  New Orleans represents a strong influence of French, Spanish, African Americans, Cajun and Creole  and people from many parts of the world which have had a profound impact on its culture.

While deciding on what to make for this special occasion I ran across a recipe by Emeril Lagasse. Many of you know who Emeril is;  the “bam” guy or another famous phrase Emeril makes “kick it up a notch”.  He first came to New Orleans in 1982 to replace Chef Paul Prudhomme  at the famous Commander’s Palace. After 9 years as head Chef he opened his own restaurants in New Orleans.

Meril is Emeril’s 4th restaurant that he opened in New Orleans and is named after his youngest daughter. This King Cake Tres Leches is one of the popular desserts served at Meril.

This dessert is a combination of King Cake (colored sugars and “babies”) with a Tres Leche Cake. This cake is said to come from a Latin American country and is a light, airy sponge cake soaked with a mixture of three milks; evaporated, sweetened condensed and heavy cream. The restaurant Meril adds a special touch by spooning the reserved milk mixture around a piece of cake for more decadence. I did this and we all loved it. There is nothing better than this cake and really is to die for!


Emeril's King Cake Tres Leche, Adapted

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1-1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp. whole milk
  • 5 oz. sour cream (little over a 1/2 cup – I used a heaping 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • King Cake babies for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Whip the egg whites to medium peaks and set aside. I always chill a metal bowl along with the beaters when I plan to whip egg whites or make whipping cream.

Using a paddle attachment of your stand mixer, combine the sugar and dark brown sugar and mix to blend. Add the oil and egg yolks and continue to mix.

Next add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to the batter and mix. Add the milk, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon and mix, scraping down the bowl as you go along.

Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until combined. This means removing the bowl from your stand mixer and gently folding the whipped egg whites with a spatula. Pour the batter in the greased baking pan.

Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean; my cake only took 35 minutes. Set aside to cool.

While the cake is cooling, whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream.

Once the cake is cool, poke holes all over the cake using a skewer or chop stick – try not to get too close to the edges. I used the bigger end of a chop stick  and the smaller end might have been better – you want the holes big enough for the milk mixture to be absorbed. I probably overdid the number of pokes but once with tiramisu cupcakes I used a fork and that didn’t work so well, so…

Slowly pour 3 cups of the milk mixture evenly over the cake. I think 2 or 2-1/2 cups would be better – the cake seemed a tad soggy. The mixture is supposed to go down the sides and under the cake acting like a sponge. However, I spooned the rest of the milk mixture around each piece of cake when I was ready to serve it so it got enough moisture.

Cover and place in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, about 3 to 4 hours; I like to refrigerate it over night. Refrigerate the remaining milk mixture until you are ready to serve the cake.

The cake up to this point can be made a few days in advance and kept refrigerated.

I chose to cut each piece of cake, place on a plate, add sweetened whipped cream on top, spoon milk mixture around each piece of cake and sprinkle with the purple, gold and green sugars. Garnish with a King Cake baby (s).

Sweetened Whipped Cream: 

  • 1/2 pint or 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Chill the bowl and  beaters. Combine the above ingredients and frost with this sweetened whipped cream. Sprinkle with colored purple, yellow and green sugars. Garnish with a King Cake baby!

Decorator’s Whipped Cream:

Use this whipping cream when you pipe it through a pastry bag. The cream of tartar and sugar stabilize the whipped cream. Refrigerate after decorating or serve right away.

  • 3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 pint or 2 cups of cold heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Chill the bowl and beaters. Mix the sugar and cream of tartar. Whip the cream using your electric mixer on high just until it begins to thicken. While the mixer is running, add the sugar mixture, vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat or it will curdle.

Use the tip of your choice to decorate.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday 209 and the two co-hosts Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Laurena @ Life Diet Health

You can see the egg whites are not stiff otherwise the end would be sticking straight out. This is about medium for the cake


My most popular post for Mardi Gras is Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls King Cake which has received almost 3500 views especially during the months of January and February. A can of cinnamon rolls and colored sugar and you have a festive breakfast treat.

The baby (I’m sure everyone knows) should never be baked in the cake; insert one after the baking is done!

A recipe for King Cake Scones from Louisiana Cookin is also a good choice to make – they taste more like a cake than a scone!

A third recipe is King Arthur Flour King Cake Cupcakes which are always great for a kid’s party. A granddaughter helped me make these in 2013.

I might as well include Parade Punch for Mardi Gras


19 thoughts on “Emeril’s King Cake Tres Leches

  1. Wow, you’re off to a good start with the Mardi Gras celebrations Judi. I love Tres Leches cakes, and this in my books would be a winner of all desserts. Thanks for the background on Emeril’s restaurants, I had no idea. I used to be an avid Food Channel watcher, but I hardly do anymore, so I rarely see Emeril anymore. I’ll have to remedy that. We’re off to New Orleans at the end of April for jazz fest. I always love visiting that city, the food, the vibes, the people, the sunshine. So looking forward to it.


    • Thanks Loretta – I like to post recipes (if possible) before the actual holiday/big event. I have not seen Emeril in a long time on the Food Channel – I use to enjoy his shows as he is so entertaining. Lucky you to be going to New Orleans – you now know Emeril has 4 of his own restaurants 🙂 The city intrigues me too – I need to pay another visit too. A sister is only 2 hours away from New Orleans but she keeps coming up this way…


    • Thanks Julie – the colored “babies” are beads. I wanted to make necklaces one year and never got around to it. The flesh colored ones – come in a bag from my local bakeshop. The restaurant topped their individual servings of cake the same way – I thought it added a nice touch!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This cake looks lovely, Vietnamese cinnamon sounds intriguing, is it different from ‘regular’ cinnamon? I like the little people on top:) Happy FF!


    • Hi Monika – The French brought the King Cake to New Orleans and there was originally a “bean” hidden inside of the cake; then in the 1950’s plastic babies which originally symbolized baby Jesus were used and hidden in the cake after it was baked. Whoever got the baby was “king for the day”. Purple is for justice, green for faith and gold for power. In some countries it is associated with the festival of Epiphany and in New Orleans it is associated with pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras/Carnival. In England a King cake was referred to as a “Twelfth Cake”; now it is replaced by Christmas Cake. I’m surprised you are not aware of it… I do get into the history of food 🙂 There’s a lot to the story and I won’t go into it here… just google the info. if interested…
      The cinnamon has a higher oil content and disperses more completely throughout what you are baking. It is sweeter and more aromatic than what you find in the grocery stores. It’s widely available – if nothing else Amazon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.