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Seis Leches Cake with Strawberries and Lavender

Serves16
IngredientsMilk
Menu PartDessert
Cuisine TypeLatin
Seis Leches Cake

Chef Adam Ross

Napa Valley, Calif.

Although this dessert uses traditional tres leches cake as a base, Chef Adam Ross calls it “seis leches” or “six milks” instead of three because milk foam, whipped mascarpone cheese and other dairy ingredients complete the cake. Paired with strawberries and lavender, it makes a quintessential sweet ending for spring. To make lavender powder, grind dried lavender flowers in spice grinder until fine.

Ingredients

Crispy Milk Foam

1 qt. 2% milk

80 g. liquid glucose

½ tsp. salt

Lavender Meringue

2 egg whites

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

½ cup confectioners’ sugar, divided

2/3 tsp. dried lavender powder

¼ tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 to 3 drops purple food color

Whipped Mascarpone Cheese

1 cup mascarpone cheese

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup heavy or whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla paste

Macerated Strawberries

2 cups strawberries, sliced into rounds

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup lemon juice

Tres Leches Cake

1½ cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

5 eggs

½ tsp. vanilla extract

1½ cups heavy or whipping cream

12 oz. evaporated milk

14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

1 cup dried lavender

Coconut milk powder, lemon balm leaves and lavender flowers, for garnish

Steps

  1. For milk foam, prepare dehydrator tray or baking sheet with silpat liner. If using oven, preheat to 125 F on convection setting.
  2. In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, glucose and salt; bring to a simmer, heating to 180 F. Tilt pan towards you and place immersion blender towards back of pan sending frothed milk towards front of saucepan. Using large slotted spoon, scoop out quenelle shaped spoonfuls of foam and place on prepared baking sheet or tray.  Work quickly and be sure to keep milk at 180 F.  Continue to refroth until baking sheet is filled.  Be careful to only use creamy, small bubble foam.  Large bubbles will burst and deflate. Dehydrate overnight. 
  3. Using an offset spatula, remove foam and break into large natural looking shards. Store in airtight container until ready to use.  Foam may be recrisped in low oven if it softens before serving.
  4. For meringue, prepare a baking sheet with silpat liner. In stand mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.  Add ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar; increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form.  Add remaining ¼ cup sugar, vanilla bean paste, lavender and food coloring; beat until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue in a thin uniform layer on prepared baking sheet.  Dehydrate overnight at 125 F.  When dried, break into shards similar to the milk foam.
  5. For whipped mascarpone, place cheese, sugar and vanilla in bowl of stand mixer.  Whisk until doubled in volume. Whisk in cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. For macerated strawberries, whisk together sugar and lemon juice in mixing bowl. Stir in strawberries.  Cover and let sit for at least one hour, or until ready to use.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare tres leches cake: Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and flour 9- by 13- inch baking pan.  Sift flour and baking powder together; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. Blend flour mixture into butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. 
  8. Bake 30 minutes, until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; remove from oven.
  9. Pierce cake evenly over top with tines of a fork.  Whisk together cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in saucepan.  Bring to a simmer; remove from heat.  Secure lavender in a cheesecloth sack; place in hot milk mixture and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.  Remove lavender pouch, pour milk mixture over cake and let sit until fully absorbed. 
  10. To serve and garnish, break cake into natural looking chunks, ½-inch, 1-inch and 2-inches.  Drain on towel to remove excess milk if necessary. Pipe 1 large dollop of mascarpone in center of plate, then pipe 4 small linear dots on each side. Add 1 large cake chunk in center, then 2 of each of the smaller size chunks around the rim.  Drain and dry 5 strawberry slices; place each slice on top of a cake chunk. Pipe mascarpone dots on each strawberry slice.  Garnish tops of cake and mascarpone dots with lavender and lemon balm leaves.  Place shards of meringue and milk foam in spaces between cake chunks.  Dust with coconut milk powder. 

Photo courtesy of California Milk Advisory Board

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