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A Middle Eastern Spin On A Classic Latino Dessert: Rose Cardamom Tres Leches

This Middle Eastern and Latino infused dessert is a good way to celebrate Eid al-Fatir or beat the summer heat.
Ashley Young
This Middle Eastern and Latino infused dessert is a good way to celebrate Eid al-Fatir or beat the summer heat.

Eid Mubarak! Or blessed celebration for those celebrating Eid al-Fitr today. It's the holiday marking the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan. During this month, observant Muslims do not eat or drink during the daylight hours. And to celebrate the end of the fast, family and friends get together to feast! But what to eat?

Food blogger Abeer Najjar knows what she's going to make with her family this Eid. And it's dessert that's on her mind.

"I picked this dessert to share because this is just one I've kind of been going to in the last few years of Eid, because it's been hot," she says.

For the past several years, Ramadan and Eid have occurred during the summer. (The dates are determined by the lunar calendar, which Muslims follow for religious matter.) And Tres Leches' cold custard and cake base make it a summer and Eid treat.

"We really just want something that's still rich, but refreshing for the summer weather," Najjar says.

But this isn't any ordinary Tres Leches. It's fused with some traditional Middle Eastern flavors: cardamom, rose water and pistachios.

Rose Cardamom Tres Leches

This recipe is courtesy of Abeer Najjar.You can find this recipe and others on her blog at www.abeernajjar.com.


  • Yellow cake (box or recipe)
  • Ingredients needed for cake (eggs, oil, etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • Milk Mixture*:

  • One 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • One 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-2 tablespoons rose water
  • Garnish:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • Fresh raspberries (or fruit of your choice)
  • Chopped pistachios
  • Make the cake: Preheat the oven. Mix the cake ingredients according to the box (or your own recipe). Incorporate the cardamom into the cake mix according to the instructions. If you're breaking up the cake to display in cups, baking on a sheet pan (with parchment paper) makes the cake bake fastest and makes it easy to break up into small pieces.
  • Milk mixture: Combine all the ingredients for the milk mixture into a bowl, ideally one with a pouring spout. Set aside.
  • Whipped cream: When making whipped cream, it is ideal that everything is cold. The heavy cream, the bowl, and even the whisk attachment for your electric mixer help make the cream whip faster if they're all chilled. Pour your cold heavy whipping cream into a chilled stainless steel bowl. Using a whisk attachment on your electronic mixer (or a manual whisk), whip the heavy cream on a low setting until it slightly thickens. Raise the speed to medium/high until the whipped cream reaches stiff peaks, adding sugar in small increments. If you're using a manual whisk, you'll have to keep whisking for several minutes. Put the whipped cream into a piping bag or a ziplock bag ans store in the fridge.
  • Building the Tres Leches: Break up the pieces of cake and stack them into whatever type of cups you like. 6-8 ounce glasses work best. Lightly pack the cake into the cups, filling about half way. Pour the milk mixture over each cup of cake until it reaches the top of the cake. Allow your cakes to soak in the milk mixture for at least 1-2 hours. You can soak them overnight as well if you want to make this in advance.
  • Plating: When you're ready to serve, pipe the whipped cream onto each cup of Tres Leches and top with fruit and chopped pistachios.
  • Salted pistachios and fresh raspberries help to balance this dessert's sweet cake and custard base.
    Ashley Young / NPR
    Salted pistachios and fresh raspberries help to balance this dessert's sweet cake and custard base.

    *Note: If you're keeping the cake whole, this milk mixture will be enough for the cake. If you're displaying the cake into cups, this milk recipe will be enough for about 6-8 cups and you'll have about half of the cake leftover. If you want to use up all the cake, you'll need to double the milk mixture recipe and you'll have about twice the servings.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
    Ashley Young