Toasted S’mores Cake

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Toasted Smore’s Cake by twocarolines.com

I am dubbing this “the cake of summer” with it’s toasty outsides and chocolate graham crackery insides.  It’s such a classic combo and in this cake, the messy, campy, summery dessert we think of as “smores” gets all dressed up and really puts on a show.  I made this for my now 3 year old’s first birthday and people went nuts for it, but I wanted the cake itself to have more flavor and I also felt that using a darker more fancy chocolate for the ganache filling would create more of a flavor sensation.  I decided to make it for my Summer themed dinner party last weekend and I adjusted accordingly resulting in knockout flavor and jaw dropping beauty in it’s presentation.  Original recipe is linked below, but I had a few people who tried both versions and were absolutely blown away by my more flavorful smores cake v2.0.

cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup honey graham cracker crumbs food processed into a fine crumb (85 grams or around 7 of the 4 piece sheets)
1 cup speculoos or biscoff cookies processed into a fine crumb (85 grams)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken (or 1 1/3 cups milk and 2/3 cup sour cream)

filling:
1/2 pound dark chocolate chopped small (I love the trader joes 72 percent pound plus)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 pinches salt

frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. First make the cake.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spray or butter two 9 inch round cake pans (this cake is high volume, so if you have 9 1/2 it might work a little better, but 9 inch works, just keep an eye or put them on a cookie sheet to avoid spills).  Line your cake pans with circles of parchment paper, with most cakes, you can skip this step, but this is a moist and sticky cake and lining with parchment makes a big difference in how they come out so please do this.  Coat parchment and pan with more cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cracker and cookie crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition.  Add a third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, a third of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, and then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing between additions until combined.  Scrape down the bowl, and mix again briefly if needed.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, smoothing tops.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.  Cool in pan on rack, then run a knife between the cake edges and pans before turning out onto a rack to cool.  Let cool completely, a process you can speed up in the fridge.
  4. To make the filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Combine the heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer.  Pour over the chocolate, and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth.  Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice water, and stir it until it firms up to a spreadable consistency.  You can let it cool down in the fridge, but it works best if you stir it every now and then so it cools evenly.
  5. To prepare the cake arrange a single layer on a serving platter, cake stand or cake board.  For a neat looking cake, use a long serrated knife to level the top gently – they don’t puff up super big as some cakes do so it won’t be a lot, and you will find plenty of people willing to eat your cake scraps.  Spread the chocolate thickly over the bottom layer.  Place top layer over it and level this one too if you would like.
  6. To make the frosting place the egg whites, granulated sugar and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer.  Set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch – about 3-5 minutes.  Transfer the bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat starting at a low speed, gradually increasing to the high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 4-7 minutes.  Add vanilla and mix until combined.  You will want to use this frosting right away, it won’t keep well.
  7. Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake covering all the crumbs.  Transfer cake to the fridge for 5-10 minutes to let it set.  Next generously coat the top and sides with additional frosting making a pretty pattern.  You could even pipe on big pretty peaks, but I just made it look artistic and delicious.  Remove any flammable objects and people from the cake area and with a kitchen torch on a low setting, lightly brown the outside of your cake creating a toasted marshmallow effect.
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smore’s cake by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from S’more layer cake – Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

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chocolate peanut butter cake by twocarolines.com

As our readers know, the love Caroline’s have for desserts of the peanut butter chocolate variety is SERIOUS!  We have brought you some pretty amazing C&PB combo’s like the amazing double chocolate peanut butter pie, 1.0’s famous peanut butter banana chocolate chip cake, or our much loved peanut butter buckeye brownies plus many more.  Now I bring you one of my favorite cakes of all time – this chocolate peanut butter cake is all the things you want your C&PB desserts to be! Rich chocolatey flavor, and creamy delicious peanut butter frosting plus a luxey ganache filling that sets it all off perfectly.  I make this cake all the time, but it usually get’s eaten so fast I can never get a picture!  This time it was for my daughters soccer party after a championship victory so I piped the frosting to give it a fancy touch, but it’s just as delicious when it’s frosted with a spatula.  -CK 2.0

Cake: (this is my go-to chocolate cake recipe – but use your favorite, this one always turns out ultra moist and delicious but any standard chocolate cake recipe would work)

  • 1 box pillsbury devils food cake mix
  • 1 3.4 oz box jello instant chocolate pudding (not the fat/sugar free)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten (room temp works best)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Ganache Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Frosting:

  • 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand like Jiff or Skippy

 

  1. For the cake.  Preheat oven to 350 and line two 9″ cake pans with parchment and either butter or spray them then set aside.
  2. Lightly mix together the cake mix and pudding mix then in a separate bowl mix your eggs water, oil (or butter) and vanilla well, until all the eggs are incorporated.  Add the wet mixture into the cake mix making sure to mix it thoroughly for a few minutes, and then add the sour cream blending until no white streaks remain.  Last add the chocolate chips and just fold them in with a spatula so they are evenly distributed.  The batter is quite thick, but it bakes up really nice so don’t be nervous about the texture.
  3. Pour evenly into your cake pans and level out with a spatula.  Bake for about 22-25 minutes checking for doneness with a toothpick.  The top of the cakes spring back when done and the cake just barely starts to pull from the sides of the pan.  Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely while you make your frosting and ganache.
  4. Next I make the ganache and then the frosting because you need to pipe frosting around the bottom of your layer cake in order to hold the ganache in the middle while it cools.  The ganache can start to cool down and thicken while you make the frosting.
  5. For the ganache: Put the chocolate and heavy cream in a heatproof bowl – I use 4 cup pyrex for this.  Heat slowly in the microwave either on defrost or in 20 second intervals at full power until the chocolate starts to loose it’s shape and you can whisk it smooth.  You can also heat the chocolate and cream in a double boiler, but I find the microwave method much easier.
  6. For the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
  7. Once the cakes have cooled, level the tops with a long serrated knife, unless you don’t care about having a neat looking cake, but this makes frosting easier and it gives you a little snack while you work.  Put the first layer on a plate or cake board and pipe with either a piping bag or just a bag made from parchment a dam of frosting around the diameter of the bottom layer that will hold in your ganache when you pour it in.  You may have some extra ganache – I used it last time to put on the top of my cake which you can do, or just save it for something else.  Now take your ganache and pour it into the middle of that bottom layer spreading out but taking care not to let it go over the edge or over the edge of your frosting layer – this is why you made a frosting dam, to hold in your ganache and keep your second layer of cake from squishing it.
  8. Let that cool for 10 minutes or so then put the second cake layer on – neat side up and plop a large amount of frosting on top.  Using an offset spatula spread the peanut butter frosting taking care to only touch your spatula to the frosting, and not to the cake so you don’t drag crumbs.  Work your frosting around the top, pushing it slowly from the middle, and then around the sides scraping the extra into a paper towel so you don’t drag crumbs.  A spinning cake pedestal helps, but you can do this by just turning a plate.  Once you have a uniform and neat cake you can decorate with extra ganache, chocolate curls, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or whatever you would like.
  9. Keep plastic where you’ve cut your cake so it doesn’t dry out, but you’re not likely to have any extra!

 

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake 

Coconut Snowball Cake

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Coconut Snowball Cake by twocarolines.com

When I asked my brother in law Bob what cake he would most want for the upcoming California wedding reception of his daughter he said “white cake with pink frosting” to which I immediately responded “BORING!” – but as I thought about it more and how he described this combination reminding him of convenience store treats of his youth, like Grandma’s Cookies, Hostess Zingers and Snowballs I was inspired!  I decided to make a white coconut cake, with this coconut frosting I usually put on chocolate cake then just smother it in coconut flakes so it has the effect of a hostess treat, but with homemade goodness.  The result was a resounding success, people went nuts for it!  And just to make life easy I was able to doctor a cake mix for the cake and it was honestly so perfectly moist, bouncy and delicious I’m glad I didn’t make the cake totally from scratch.   I used some pink dye just for Bobby J, but this would be extra pretty keeping all ingredients white as well, do what makes you feel good.

For the Cake:
1 package white cake mix (I used pillsbury, but any should work)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons warm water
3 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract

For the Frosting:
16 ounces or 1 box powdered sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 sticks or 3/4 cup butter
4 ounces cream cheese cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon coconut
1 drop red or pink food coloring if using
3 cups shredded coconut (I mix normal sweetened coconut with unsweetened wide flake coconut I buy from Sprouts because I think it’s so pretty)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 – spray or parchment line two 9 inch baking pans.  I spray and parchment line because I’m careful like that, but do what works for you.  It’s also a good time to get out your cream cheese and butter for the frosting so they can come to room temperature.
  2. Mix sour cream, oil, water, extracts and eggs one at a time making sure they are all incorporated, then add cake mix and mix for a few minutes making a consistent batter.
  3. Pour into your prepared cake pans trying to get them as even as possible (I put them on a scale but that’s because I’m a dessert blogger and want my business to look legit – you could probably eye ball it and get close enough to even).  Bake for about 25-28 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cakes are risen and browned nicely.  Let cool 5-10 minutes then turn out of pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. For the frosting, mix together the cream cheese, butter and boiling water then start to slowly add the powdered sugar making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl, last mix in the coconut extract.  Put your frosting in the fridge to get it a little thickened for 20 minutes or so.
  5. To frost, cut the round top off your bottom layer, then turn, cut side down onto a cake board or plate.  Pile a big glop of frosting onto this layer and spread out being sure to only touch your frosting spatula to the frosting and never to cake, just to the ends.  Next even out your next layer by cutting the round top then plop that on top of your frosted layer cut side down.  Put most of your frosting on top of the cake and spread out slowly – being careful to only touch the frosting and not the cake so you don’t pull up crumbs.  If you do, wash off our spatula and get more frosting to cover, there will be some left over.  Spread the top so it goes past the border of the cake then take frosting and scoop it on to your spreading spatula as you go along the sides turning your cake so you get a nice even layer all around the sides.  Last do a nice back and forth or a circular swirl on top then before it hardens press your coconut into the top and sides of the cake.  It’s helpful to have something under it so clean-up is easier.  Serve at room temperature – keeps for a good 3 days or more if you keep it covered.

 

Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cake

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Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cake by twocarolines

If you haven’t met Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cake, let me introduce you to one of the great loves of my life.  Trust me, this one is for the record books people.  I’ve never served it without loud praise, wide applause, and urgent requests for the recipe.  My husband, who isn’t really a cake guy, calls this his favorite and it’s the only cake he actually requests on the regular.  There is so much that’s right about this cake, the always moist and magical oatmeal texture, the not-to-sweet with brown sugar cinnamon flavor, and the coconut pecan topping just sends it into the prize winning cake hall of fame (that’s a thing, or at least I should make that a thing).  It’s one of those rare combinations of show stopping deliciousness that’s embarrassingly easy to make.  Try it and see!

Cake:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

  1.  Set oven to 350.  Prepare a bundt pan by either spraying with baking spray that has flour or greasing well and tapping in flour to coat.
  2. In a large bowl combine melted butter, oatmeal, and boiling water.  Let sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Add sugars then eggs, one at a time mixing well after each.  Add flour and before mixing just put the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon on top of the flour heap then mix it all together adding vanilla last.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until set and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a dish that can go in the oven.  If you don’t have one put it on a cookie sheet for the application of the topping then transfer to a plate once it’s completed.
  5. For the topping put the sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  When sugar is dissolved and mixture starts bubbling on the sides mix in coconut and pecans then remove from the heat. It will stick on the cake a bit better if you let it cool 10-15 minutes before spreading on the cake.
  6. Once your topping is on put cake under the broiler (I keep it on low) for only a minute or so, just long enough to brown the topping.
  7. Serve anytime, keeps at room temp for a number of days.
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Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cake by twocarolines

Recipe adapted from A Gathering Of Friends

 

 

Dark chocolate sheet cake with chocolate frosting

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Dark chocolate sheet cake with chocolate frosting

If the only thing you want for Christmas is for someone to remember your December birthday, this cake’s for you! Or maybe you know someone who has a birthday competing with Christmas so you need a cake that can stand out.  My daughter and I make a different chocolate cake every few weeks, I don’t post all of them, only the ones we decide are really extra delicious and this one was all that plus it was so easy!  I find it so fascinating how many ways there are to make a chocolate cake – this is an old school texas sheet cake recipe we modernized and I think the water, oil, AND butter make a combo that is not dense and dry as ‘from scratch’ cakes can often be.  The process of making it was really unique and fun.  I often make layer cakes, because they are pretty and I love the frosting to cake ratio on a layer cake, but a 9×13 is a birthday staple, and this is only a few more steps than your box cake and tastes so moist and springy.  Plus it’s poppin off chocolate flavor like no other – and if you add rainbow sprinkles it will make all your chocolate cake dreams come true!

Cake:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (sprinkled with a little flour)

Frosting:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup hot cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
rainbow sprinkles (optional)

  1. Grease a 9×13 baking pan and preheat oven to 375.
  2. Whisk sugar, flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
  3. In a medium saucepan combine water, vegetable oil, butter, and cocoa stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil then pour the hot mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together just until smooth.  Let it cool slightly then mix in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
  4. Scrape batter out of pan and spread evenly into 9×13 baking pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
  5. For the frosting: Melt chocolate and butter either in a pyrex at low heat or in a double boiler.  Remove from heat and pour in your hot cream, stir until combined then add the vanilla and sugar beating until spreadable.  Pile it all on your cooled cake and spread out as you wish.  Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles too!

Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking chocolate texas sheet cake and fast chocolate butter icing.

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Oreo Buttercream frosting

My youngest recently turned 1 year old, and like his sisters before him, we celebrate this milestone with the introduction to cake!  We’ve never really gone the smash cake route, but I know they are all the rage so we decided to see what all the fun was about.  Of course it would be a tragedy to make a super delicious cake and have it all get smashed into nothingness before any of rest of us got to have any, so we ended up making multiple cakes just to ensure our own consumption requirement.  This recipe will make two 6″ layer cakes, or one 9 inch layer cake.  You could also use this to make about 28 cupcakes, but if you do that, double the frosting so you’ll have enough to pile it on.  I used some left over cream cheese frosting to pipe my little #1.  The recipe for that frosting can be found in a number of places on the blog with a search.  The oreo buttercream was 100% my daughters idea and it was really delicious and easy to use because nobody cares if you pull up cake crumbs while frosting if your cake is full of cookie crumbs to began with.  We all loved it and I’m sure you will too!


Chocolate Cake:
1 box pillsbury devils food cake mix
1 3.4 oz box jello instant chocolate pudding (not the fat/sugar free)
1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs lightly beaten (room temp works best)
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup chocolate chips

Oreo Buttercream: 
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
about 12 oreos, divided

 

  1.  For the cake.  Preheat oven to 350 and spray then cut parchment circles for four 6″ cake pans, or use two, wash then repeat.  You can also bake this cake in two 9 inch pans or 28-30 cupcakes.  Whichever method you use, please check for doneness instead of bake times as bake times will vary quite a bit depending on what pan you use.
  2. Lightly mix together the cake mix and pudding mix then in a separate bowl mix your eggs water, oil (or butter) and vanilla well until all the eggs are incorporated.  Add the wet mixture into the cake mix making sure to mix it thoroughly for a few minutes, and then add the sour cream blending until no white streaks remain.  Last add the chocolate chips and just fold them in with a spatula so they are evenly distributed.  The batter is quite thick, but it bakes up really nice so don’t get scared.  Spread batter into your pans and even out the tops.
  3. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean (bake times vary for 9″ pans, bundts, cupcakes etc. so check doneness with a toothpick before taking out).  Once done let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool completely while you prepare your frosting.
  4. For the frosting: In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the butter until fluffy and creamy. Mix in vanilla, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and milk. In your food processor, finely crush 8 oreos. Stir oreo crumbs into frosting.  If you want your frosting thicker, add more powdered sugar, if it’s too thick, add milk just a teaspoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.
  5. Once your cakes have cooled cut off the domes on top for a nice looking cake and start with one layer, cut side down on a plate or a cake board.  Put a generous amount of frosting on top and spread an even layer to the edges then put your next layer on top of that cut side down and use as much frosting as you need to cover your entire cake top and sides.  I like to use an off-set frosting spatula, but you could use a knife too.  To make the swirl I just used my spatula starting from the outside and turned my cake in a circle moving towards the middle.  To make the #1 I used some leftover cream cheese frosting, or you could use the vanilla buttercream from our quintessential cupcake recipe, just half it and save some for your next cake.  I piped it on with a star tip which is very easy and turns out looking clean and nice.  I also used some little crystal sprinkles around the edge just for fun.

Cake recipe adapted from “A Gathering of Friends” cookbook. Oreo Buttercream adapted from Creme de la Crumb blog.

Tres Leches Cake

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tres leches cake by twocarolines.com

Prior to this I had never even had Tres Leches Cake and didn’t think I particularly needed to, but I was randomly watching Pioneer woman one day while folding laundry and she whipped up one of these and it looked super amazing and unique.  I followed her recipe except for adding some cinnamon to the whip cream frosting because it’s an insanely delicious secret I learned from 1.0’s amazing Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse Pie.  Also I used strawberries instead of maraschino cherries because those are kind of yuck but strawberries are summer fruit central and tasted delicious!  I fed this cake to a crowd and they went nutso for it – I always enjoy seeing my bakes disappear with a quickness.  I’m sure you’ll have a similar result because this cake was such a pleasure to eat.

Cake:
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs – separated
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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tres leches slice by twocarolines.com

For the tres leches mixture:
1/4 cup heavy cream
one 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
one 12 ounce can evaporated milk

For Icing:
1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (scant) teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
strawberries to decorate

  1.  For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9- by 13-inch cake pan.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, set aside.  Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar on high speed until the yolks are pale yellow. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
  3. Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold the egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Spoon into the prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
  4. Bake until the cake is done, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan, and then turn out (upside down) onto a rimmed platter.
  5. For the tres leches: Combine the heavy cream, evaporated milk and condensed milk in a small pitcher. Pierce the surface of the cake with a fork several times. Drizzle the milk mixture over the top and allow the cake to sit and absorb the milk mixture. Don’t worry about totally soaking the cake! That’s what you want.
  6. For the icing: Whip the cream with the sugar and cinnamon if using. Spread it evenly over the top and sides of the soaked cake and decorate with strawberries.  You can use as many or as few as you choose.  I was more minimal for pictures, then I gave the rest of the strawberries to my 3 year old and she plastered it how she saw fit, which tasted great!

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    Millies decoration for tres leches cake by twocarolines

  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Several hours is fine. The cooler the cake, the better!

Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman tres leches cake on foodnetwork.com.