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Restaurant Copycat: Ruggles Black’s Chai-Spiced Tres Leches

There are a plethora of restaurants in Houston where one can order a really outstanding slices of tres leches, but leave it to the Ruggles empire’s newest venture to serve up one of the most gargantuan, outrageously decadent slices in the city in an attempt to outdo the rest. Their chai-spiced tres leches is a towering wedge of fluffy, subtly spiced, milk-drenched cake, topped with a lavish fluff of whipped cream and their signature Ruggles dessert garnishes.

This restaurant hack is one of my favorites to date because while I wouldn’t call this an exact replica of the Ruggles Black’s version, it uses really simple techniques to achieve an extremely satisfying result. The extreme fluffiness and moist crumb of cake mix cake is heightened by using fragrant coconut oil, and steeping a teabag in the traditional three milks used in a tres leches cake is a quick and dirty way of adding an exotic depth of flavor that will make you feel totally fancy right at home in your own kitchen.

Ruggles Black’s Chai-Spiced Tres Leches

Yields: 1 9×13-inch cake

Ingredients

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
Coconut Oil
2 Cups Whole Milk
1- 14 oz Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1- 12 oz Can Evaporated Milk
1 Chai Tea Bag
2-3 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup Heavy Cream
Cinnamon
½ cup chocolate chips, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Follow instructions as directed on cake mix, substituting coconut oil for any vegetable oil or butter called for. Bake as directed in a 9×13-inch pan.

While the cake is baking, stir together all three milks in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, then immediately remove from heat. Add the chai tea bag, cover and let steep for at least 30 minutes.

Once the cake is done, let cool for at least 30 minutes while milks are steeping, or up to overnight (covered, in the refrigerator). Use a fork to poke holes in the cake and pour the milk mixture over the top (you may have to pour in batches and let the milk sink in before pouring the rest).

Combine the sugar and heavy cream and whip to soft peaks using electric beaters. Spread over the cooled cake and top with a pinch of cinnamon.

To create a chocolate garnish for the cake, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir until smooth. Use a spoon to swirl the chocolate on a piece of wax paper in decorative swirls, then refrigerate until set. Gently peel the chocolate swirls off the wax paper and use as garnish.

Erika Kwee

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