Update: Tres Leches and the Quest for Perfection

In Tucson, Arizona, tres leches cakes are as ubiquitous as burritos. Since I’ve already located the perfect 99 cent bean burrito, it’s only natural that my mother and I have embarked upon a quest to find the perfect tres leches cake. Or rather, I’m on a quest, and I’m dragging her with me!

Don’t judge a cake by its cover. This tres leches cake is lovely, but lacks in tastiness.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

We first sampled a cake from Food City, a local grocery store chain. It was beautifully presented. Yet, upon close examination of the ingredients, there were no real leches used in the making of the cake. And, frankly, the reconstituted, sweetened nonfat dry milk they poured over the cake was insufficient to impart the luscious creaminess necessary for a transcendent tres leches experience.

We also tried a discount chain version of tres leches, which was so disappointing, it’s hardly worth writing about.

We went to a Safeway grocery store on Valencia, which has a lovely bakery–but the tres leches cakes were sold out on four different occasions. Alas, we were forced to come home with a rum cream cake and tiramisu instead. (Not bad alternatives, but the way.) We soaked the rum cream cake in Bailey’s Irish Cream, and enjoyed its boozy goodness.

Single serving? You decide! A winning tres leches cake from Le Cave’s Bakery.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Mom and I were ready to give up after trying these many cakes, and instead, explore making our own. Yet the most recent find restocked our questing stoves. Our revelation was the much e-celebrated tres leches cake from Le Cave’s Bakery, which is famous for its donuts. Though it was the least beautiful of the tres leches we’ve tried, it was the best, hands down. The chocolate over the top was a bit hardened–like that chocolate sauce that firms when it comes into contact with ice cream, so there were delightful chocoburgs on the side of the cup. The leches were 100% real and 100% delicious. In my mind, his makes all the difference in the world. The pool of golden goodness on the bottom was sufficient to dip any cake that required an additional baptism. Can you ever have too much good? I think not. The cake cup is large, so if you don’t come hungry, you may want to bring a friend to tackle this mountain.

Though we have found near perfection, the quest continues. Nana’s Restaurant and Restaurante Pura Vida also rank high in a web search for the best tres leches. Bring on the competition!

Where have you found the best tres leches cake? What quests have you embraced in your travels?


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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations. 

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
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Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at rollerbaggoddess.blogspot.com.
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