Sometimes I look back and laugh about the strange dietary phases I’ve gone through in my life. At the age of 10, while eating a tuna sandwich for lunch, I informed my mother that I was going to be a vegetarian. That lasted the 30 seconds it took for her to explain that my sandwich would be off limits. Then there was the Tofurky my sister and I made for Thanksgiving one year in high school, and the brief stint as a vegan in college (otherwise known as the French Fry diet). And who can forget the Snackwells craze? I mean, you could eat an entire sleeve of cookies! They were fat free!
As an adult, I settled into the low-fat lifestyle and played around with hundreds of variations on higher fat originals. Happily, I’ve found that grilled fries are pretty satisfying, part-skim cheese can often pass for the real thing and Greek yogurt is still rich and amazing without any fat at all. But one thing I’ve always struggled with are low-fat baked goods. They usually end up tasting like a rock. A dry, tasteless rock. And the older I get, the less I’m willing to suspend enough disbelief to even try and convince my brain that the non-dairy, wheat flour version of a Tollhouse cookie is good. It’s just not. This Skinny Tres Leches Cake is the exception to the rule.
Not even kidding, this cake is GOOD. It’s sweet but not too sweet; spongy, moist and airy – decidedly unlike a rock! It may be the only cake I’ve ever made that I can say with full confidence is just as good as the higher fat version.
As the name implies, this Skinny Tres Leches Cake uses three different kinds of milk – regular, evaporated and condensed. And guess what – we’re using the nonfat versions of ALL three. And guess what – you’ll never know it. The cake gets baked and then soaked in these milks until it becomes super moist and delicious.
This Skinny Tres Leches Cake has a subtle essence of orange, and you’ll double down by folding some orange zest into the whipped cream topping. This dessert makes me look forward to spring. It’ll be the perfect light, refreshing end to an outdoor meal.
When you make this Skinny Tres Leches Cake, know in advance that you’ll need to soak it in the milks for at least 2 hours and plan accordingly. You can keep it in the fridge, covered, for several days. Just don’t top it with the orange-scented cream until you’re ready to serve it. Enjoy!
For the Cake
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter, plus 2 Tbsp. for the pan
- 2 cups flour, plus 2 Tbsp. for the pan
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp. orange extract
- 1 cup nonfat milk
For the Glaze
- 6 oz. nonfat evaporated milk
- 7 oz. nonfat sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 2 tsp. dark rum
For the Orange-Scented Whipped Cream
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2-3 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
- zest of 1 orange
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using the 2 Tbsp. of butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish generously. Then dust the bottom and sides of the pan with the 2 Tbsp. of flour.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until fully incorporated before adding the next egg. Blend in the orange extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the milk and beat until smooth. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
While the cake is cooling, whisk all the glaze ingredients together in a large bowl. Using a fork or toothpick, carefully puncture the surface of the cake all over. Pour the glaze over the cake evenly. It will look like the liquid is just sitting on top of the cake – don’t worry, it will absorb in. Allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Before serving, make the cream – beat the heavy cream on high speed of an electric mixer until it starts to thicken. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until the cream forms stiff peaks. Fold in the orange zest with a flexible spatula. Top each slice of cake with some cream and serve.