We are leaving for Rome in 4 days... holy meatballs! Whenever anyone asks me what I'm most excited for, my mind automatically jumps to one thing. No, it's not the romantic architecture that I’ve been studying for years or the fact that I won't be working for 2 weeks. It's not even the pizza or all the tiramisu I'm going to consume on a daily basis. It's the to-go pasta! lolololol I've mentioned it before, but I have a strange love for eating and walking. I love it so much that I've seriously thought about turning this combo into an Olympic sport where the athletes wear all white bodysuits and eat wet burritos or piping hot bowls of beef pho while also speed walking 1600 meters. Why do they have to wear white body suits? Because each athlete would get points deducted or more time added based on the amount of spills they get! hahahaha I giggle at this idea every time and feel slightly embarrassed I've spent enough time figuring out all the random details. The sport still needs a name though!
Anyways, to-go pasta is literally the thing I'm looking forward to the most on this vacation. My friend Kelsey told me about this concept when she was studying abroad in Florence. What I’m imagining is a Chinese food take out container filled with the best pasta I’ve ever had. I’m so ready! Do you believe me now that I love portable food?? Foods on sticks. Self contained bundles of food like buns or onigiri. Anything that's smartly packaged in a neat and easy to eat out of container. A part of me thinks that if I'm eating and walking at the same time I'm also burning calories, which means I can eat more... honestly the logic isn't tooooooooooo crazy. Plus any food is portable if you tried hard enough... hence the Olympic sport! I don’t advise you to try eating hot pho while speed walking unless you’re a pro.
You know what's even better than portable noodles though? Not much... but portable dessert!! Obviously ice cream cones and ice cream sandwiches are the classic portable desserts, but doesn't portable cake sound like a dream come true? Especially a cake that's been soaked in milk tea and covered with whip cream! The inspiration for these Milk Tea Tres Leches came from a little market over by Reuben's office. I went there for the first time and was overwhelmed by how beautiful the prepackaged foods were! Like a million times better than the Trader Joe's grab and go lunch cold case I'm always frequenting at lunch. My eyes lit up when I saw their grab and go dessert section. Rows and rows and rows of weck jars filled with fruit cobbler, mousse, and cake!!! I had to grab a jar of their tres leche because there's something so satisfying about the texture of sponge cake soaked in cream. Mmmmmmm. It was SO GOOD. I beg Reuben every few weeks to bring me home one so we could split it for dessert!
This version has a little Hong Kong Milk Tea Twist! Milk tea is traditionally made by brewing ceylon tea (or red tea) and mixing in condensed milk and evaporated milk for a sweet and smooth finish. It's one of my favorite drinks and I'm always thinking of ways to incorporate it into desserts! It only seemed natural to infuse the ceylon tea into the tres leche since all the dairy was already there! The light and fluffy vanilla sponge cake is soaked in a tres leche mixture of condensed milk, regular milk, and heavy cream that's been steeped with ceylon tea. The resulting texture is light but also custardy. What dreams are made of! You can either assemble the tres leche in little parfaits like me or as a whole cake to share with friends or horde for yourself. I'll never judge!
Talk you soon, friends! Next time you hear from me, I'll be in the land of carbs and portable pasta! Tune into my Instagram stories and watch me roam around Rome with a tub of chewy noodles and red sauce stains on my shirt! It's going to be glorious!
Milk Tea Tres Leches
makes 4 parfaits
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 eggs - whites and yolks separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp ceylon tea or strong black/red tea
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup milk
1 cup heaving whipping cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar
cocoa powder - optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 8”x8” baking pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl whisk together egg yolks and sugar for 3 minutes until thick and pasty. Fold yolk mixture into the flour mixture. In a clean bowl beat egg whites until you have stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Gently fold egg whites into the flour mixture until evenly combined.
Pour cake batter into the baking pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 20-24 minutes. Test for doneness using the toothpick test. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.
While the cake is baking, bring 1 1/2 cup heaving cream and ceylon tea to a gentle boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn’t overflow! Remove the cream from the heat and allow the tea to steep for 30 minutes. Discard tea bags and mix in condensed milk and regular milk.
To make whipped cream, whip heavy cream with powdered sugar until fluffy.
To assemble the parfaits, cut out 2.5”-3” cake rounds with a biscuit cutter. You should be able to get 6 full cake rounds for 3 parfaits and use the cake scrapes for the 4th parfait. Poke a few holes into the cake rounds using a fork. Place 1 cake round in a glass jar or serving glass. Pour 2-3 tbsp of the milk tea cream mixture. Add 2-3tbsp of whipped cream. Repeat cake, milk tea, and whipped cream layer again until filled. Place tres leches in the fridge for at least 3 hours to allow the cake to absorb the milk tea. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. When ready to served dust with a little cocoa powder!