BEST TRES LECHES CAKE - 2005
Panadería La Estrella
Fresh pineapple or fresh strawberry? Hmmmmm. The choice was tremendously difficult, but after an exceptional amount of hemming and hawing, we decided to go with Panadería La Estrella's strawberry-filled pastel de tres leches, which literally translated means "three-milk cake." And after tasting what seemed to be a thousand less-than-stellar variations on one of Mexico's (and Latin America's) most popular desserts, we award a 10 to La Estrella, the winner of the tres leches cake competition we just created. Tres leches cake derives its name from the fact that it's made with three different types of milk: sweetened condensed, evaporated, and heavy cream. When made properly, it's a luscious saturated vanilla butter cake that borders on pudding, with fresh fruit layered between the cake to add a gustatory punctuation mark to the whole experience. La Estrella's ultra-moist strawberry version, loaded with lightly sweetened fresh strawberry chunks and finished with mounds of whipped cream (and we ain't talking Cool Whip here), makes American strawberry shortcake just plain pale in comparison.