I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Egg Nog Tres Leches Cake

The holidays are here and that, for me, means egg nog.  The most wonderful time of the year!  I love egg nog straight from a Santa Claus mug, but it is a great flavor for baking and adds real holiday cheer to almost anything.  I stir it into hot chocolate, oatmeal, bake it in breads and muffins and flavor cookies and candies with it. And of course, my must-have Christmas morning treat, Overnight Egg Nog French Toast Casserole.

Tres Leches literally means “three milks” because of the lovely combination of milks poured over the cooked cake.  It’s a popular dessert in Latin America, and my introduction was from a friend whose family is from Nicaragua.  She passed on a recipe made with a box of golden butter cake mix and I made that many times before I ventured into making my own cake.  For Christmas, I substitute her heavy cream for egg nog in the soaking milks.  This nutmeg spiked and scented butter cake adds extra holiday flair, and is sturdy enough to soak up all that lovely egg nog goodness.  The end result is a soft, moist cake, pudding-like in places, with a decadent egg nog richness.

This is a marvelous recipe for the busy holidays, because it is quick to make and must be made ahead and it serves a big crowd.  I have made this on December 23 for a Christmas Eve dinner and not only was it a big hit, but I didn’t have to spend all day on a crazy Christmas Eve in the kitchen.  In a pinch, it will keep for two days.  It is fine as is, but a little plain in appearance, so a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg give it a little oomph.  And if you really want to add some oomph, a quarter cup of bourbon or dark rum in the milk mixture adds a real egg nog touch,

Oh, and if in the midst of this hectic season, you make this with a box of mix, I promise I won’t tell…

Egg Nog Tres Leches Cake

Use a good egg nog from the dairy case, and please, it’s Christmas, spare me the “light” version.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 ½ c granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

1 ½  cups dairy egg nog

1 cup heavy whipping cream for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 – 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  While the butter is creaming, use a fork to mix the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a bowl.  Add the vanilla to the milk in the measuring cup.

When the butter and sugar are creamed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the flour and milk mixtures alternately in three additions, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl down a few times.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.  Bake the cake for 30 – 35 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the cake is firm.  Bake this cake a few minutes longer than you would normally, as it will soak up the egg nog mixture and soften up. Leave to cool completely.

In a spouted bowl or large measuring jug, whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk and egg nog until thoroughly blended.  Poke holes all over the cooled cake with a skewer.  Slowly pour one half of the egg nog mixture over the cake, then leave it for a few minutes to soak in.  Pour over the remaining egg nog, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight.

Cut the cake into squares and serve chilled.  If you’d like to, you can whip 1 cup heavy cream and spread it over the top of the cake like a frosting before serving, or dollop some whipped cream on each piece.  Sprinkle a little nutmeg over the cake as well.

Serves 12

Looking for some more holiday sweet ideas?  Check out Peppermint Angels or Spiced Fruitcake Bars.

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