Pistachio Cardamom Tres Leches Cake
Pistachio Cardamom Tres Leches Cake

Tres leches cake meets Indian flavors in this twist on the classic. Soak a pistachio-infused cake in sweet, spiced milk and top with whipped cream.

In this recipe

  • Kulfi-inspired Tres Leches cake
  • Why use three types of milk?
  • Tips and Tricks
  • adjustments
  • Get ahead

If I had to rank my favorite desserts, the creamiest would be at the top of the list. This may seem controversial, but I would take a scoop of ice cream over a piece of chocolate cake any day. I love the refreshing milk taste and the lasting cool feeling on my tongue. So it’s no surprise that two of my favorite treats are kulfi and tres leches cakes.

Kulfi is a South Asian frozen dessert traditionally made with slow-boiled sweet milk and spices, reduced to a thick liquid. Tres leches cake is a moist, milk-soaked sponge cake of Latin American origin (although exact origins are often disputed!).

Given their similarities, I thought it fitting to create a Tres Leches cake with typical Indian spices and Kulfi flavors. The result is a tres leches cake, featuring a pistachio-studded sponge cake drenched in spiced milk and topped with whipped cream and chopped pistachios. The basic recipe was adapted from A Cozy Kitchen’s Tres Leches cakes.

Why use three types of milk?

Tres leches cake, so named because of the use of three types of milk, is traditionally made with condensed milk, condensed milk and cream. This version uses whole milk instead of cream for a lighter mix to contrast the sweeter, richer condensed milk. Using all three types of milk ensures a balanced sweetness and rich texture without weighing the cake down.

Tips and tricks for making tres leches

  • Do not overmix the batter: Avoid over-mixing to ensure a light and spongy texture. Whipped egg whites can be difficult to fold, so I recommend mixing in the first third of the egg whites to lighten the batter before folding in the remaining egg whites.
  • Beat the egg whites to medium peaks: Many recipes call for the whites to be whipped to stiff peaks, but this can sometimes result in more wrinkles (and over-mixing or draining). Instead, I recommend medium peaks. Medium peaks appear as you lift the batter and the meringue peak will hold its shape, but the peak will only curl up slightly. Be careful not to skip the whites or you won’t have the cake enough Structure.
  • Make sure the cake is fully baked: An underbaked cake is never ideal, but with tres leches, the cake will become soggy if the center isn’t baked through. Err on the side of a dry cake here to absorb more moisture.

Make this Tres Leches cake your own

  • This cake makes a moderately soggy cake; For a well-soaked cake, increase the amount of whole milk in the soaking liquid to 1 cup.
  • A little almond extract brings out the pistachio flavor, but if you happen to have pistachio extract, you can use that as well.
  • Don’t have cardamom? You can substitute cinnamon or a warming spice blend like chai masala.

How to make tres leches cakes ahead of time

Tres leches cake is a great make-ahead dessert, and this twist is no different.

  • The milk infusion can be prepared up to a day in advance and chilled in the fridge. Bring it back to room temperature before pouring it over the cake.
  • You can also bake the cake and soak it beforehand. Soaking in the fridge overnight is actually recommended to give the milk enough time to permeate the entire cake and develop flavor. Just before serving, prepare whipped cream and pistachio topping.

Global desserts

  • Kaju Katli
  • Slow Cooker Almond Orange Rice Pudding
  • Guyanese gojas
  • Brazo Guitano (Guava Jelly Roll)
  • Nian Gao (Baked Rice Cake with Red Bean Paste)

Pistachio Cardamom Tres Leches Cake

preparation time
45 minutes

cooking time
35 minutes

chill/other time
5 hrs 15 mins

total time
6 hrs 35 mins

up to 16 servings

1 (9 x 13 inch) cake

Tres leches cake meets Indian flavors in this twist on the classic. Soak a pistachio-infused cake in sweet, spiced milk and top with whipped cream.


For the sponge cake

  • 1/2 cup (90G) unsalted without shell roasted pistachios

  • 1 1/2 cups (188G) all purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon cardamom

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milkat room temperature

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (250G), divided

  • 6 Big Eggsseparately, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the milk mixture

  • 1 (14ounce) can condensed milk

  • 1 (12ounce) can condensed milk

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinammon

  • 1/2 teaspoon floor cardamom

For covering

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy creamchilled

  • 3 tablespoon powdered sugar

  • 1/2 Cup unsalted without shell roasted pistachioschopped

special equipment

  • Small food processor or spice grinder


  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

    Lightly grease the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch skillet, but do not grease the sides (or the cake will shrink significantly).

  2. Grind pistachios:

    In a small food processor or spice grinder, finely grind the pistachios into a coarse powder (avoid over-grinding or it will turn into nut butter).

  3. Prepare the dry ingredients:

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pistachios, flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cardamom. Put aside.

  4. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until fluffy:

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the egg yolks and 1 cup sugar. Set the mixer on low speed until the sugar and egg yolks are combined, then increase to medium speed.

    Beat the yolks for 3 minutes or until thick, ribbon-like and pale yellow, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

  5. Add the remaining wet ingredients:

    Reduce the speed to low, then slowly pour in the milk and vanilla extract, beating until homogeneous. Turn off the blender, then scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

  6. Mix in dry ingredients:

    Return the mixer to low speed, then slowly add the dry ingredients until just combined; There should be a few grains of flour left in the bowl. Turn off the mixer, return the mixture to the large mixing bowl you had the dry ingredients in, and gently fold with a spatula until there are no dry bits left.

    You use the bowl of the stand mixer again to beat the egg whites.

  7. beat egg whites:

    Wash the bowl of the food processor, wipe it out thoroughly (there should be no traces of egg yolk or water) and place it back on the food processor.

    Add the egg whites, then use the whisk attachment on medium-high and beat until the liquid just starts to foam.

  8. Add the sugar and beat the egg whites to medium peaks:

    Increase the speed to high, then slowly add the sugar. Beat egg whites on medium peaks for about 2 to 3 minutes – lift beater and turn to test. The tip should stand firmly, but the tip will curl slightly. The mixture also looks slightly shiny and has tripled in volume. To avoid rollover, I recommend stopping the mix every twenty seconds to check for stiffness.

  9. Fold in egg white:

    Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the batter until the batter is mostly combined (it’s okay to see a few small white streaks). Then carefully fold the remaining egg whites into the batter until just combined.

  10. Bake the cake and let it cool:

    Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove any surface bubbles.

    Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Run a butter knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it from the edges of the pan.

  11. Make milk mixture:

    In a medium mixing bowl, combine the evaporated milk and the evaporated milk with a whisk.

    Place a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add whole milk, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and slowly pour into mixing bowl. Whisk the liquids together until combined.

    Leave to cool to room temperature.

  12. Soak Cake:

    Prick the top of the cake generously with a fork or thin skewer. Avoid piercing deep enough to pierce the bottom of the cake as this will cause the liquid to seep out of the cake.

    Slowly pour half of the liquid over the cake and allow the liquid to seep gently for 1 minute. Pour in the remaining half of the liquid and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

    Refrigerate the cake for at least four hours to overnight before adding the whipped cream.

  13. Whip cream:

    Whip the cream just before serving. Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the cream on high speed until fluffy, then add the powdered sugar and continue beating into stiff peaks (any peaks formed should stand up straight when the whisk is lifted from the bowl).

  14. Garnish and serve:

    Use a spatula to transfer the whipped cream to the top of the cake. Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, smooth the cream as needed. Garnish with chopped pistachios and serve immediately.

  15. Storage:

    The glazed cake can keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, although the whipped cream may start to drain, and the pistachio cream may get a little soggy. It will still be delicious!

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nutritional information (per serving)
416 calories
19g Fat
51g carbohydrates
11g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!