an interview with chef Huascar Aquino – chef/owner of Huascar & Co Bakeshop.
Chef Huascar Aquino is a highly talented pastry chef that I’m so grateful to have become friends with. He’s the person I reach out to for any cake advise. Whether it’s choosing the right flour, techniques to create the perfect frosting, or simply the best cake recipes, Huascar is my go-to guy for any baking tips.
He is the founder of Huascar & Co Bakeshop, a bakery located in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. You can see chef Huascar’s skills in an array of delicious sweet treats. Using only the finest ingredients, he creates everything from cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and macarons, to cheesecakes, flans, and custom cakes.
He came from the Dominican Republic in 2002, and attended the French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) to study Pastry Arts. Not only did he graduate with the Student Achievement Award, he sharpened his pastry skills by working at some of the most highly regarded restaurants in New York. His experiences include the Four Seasons, Essex House Hotel, and as the pastry chef for Goldman Sachs, executive dining room.
In 2012, he competed on Food Network’s Sweet Genius, and then winning Cupcake Wars the following year. Huascar became the first New York baker to win the competition. (Which I’m not surprised at all!) In June 2018, he also appeared on Food Network’s Chopped. This year chef Huascar was invited as one of the judges for the International Culinary Center’s Cake Technique and Design project for the graduating class.
This time at Huascar & Co Bakeshop, I’m here to learn the step-by-step techniques to making Tres Leches cake. The idea behind this popular Latin America cake is to soak a sponge cake with 3 different kinds of milk, creating a moist, sweet, custardy cake. With a hint of rum and a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes, this will be the best dessert to have for any special occasion. (Valentine’s Day dinner, anyone?)
Tres Leches Cake | The BEST oneA hint of rum and toasted coconut flakes brings this Tres Leches Cake to the next level.Servings 8 people
- baking pan
- 4 medium eggs
- 120 grams granulated sugar
- 120 grams all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 1 can (14oz) condensed milk
- 1 can (14oz) evaporated milk
- 12 oz heavy cream
- ½ cup dark rum
Cream Cheese Whipped Cream
- 3 cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 12 ounces cream cheese
- 3 tablespoon coconut flakes, toasted
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
To make sponge cake
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree F.
- Whip eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract until tripled in volume and comes to ribbon stage.
- Add lemon and orange zest into dry ingredients, mix them well in a bowl and set aside.
- Fold the eggs mixture with the flor mixture using whisk. This method will create more air pocket to the cake resulting a very fluffy cake.
- Bake in the oven until toothpick comes out clean when inserted to the cake.
To make soaking liquid
- Mix 3 different kind of milk and 1/2 cup of rum in a bowl. Set aside 3-4 cups of soaking liquid for the cake. (if you have extra, save the rest for the next cake!)
- Once the cake is out from the oven, poke holes on the cake using toothpick or the edge of paring knife. Pour 3-4 CUPS of soaking liquid into the cake. You will see that the cake will absorb the liquid. Keep pouring until you use the liquid.
To make cream cheese whipped cream
- Using whisk attachment, whisk cream cheese and sugar until soft and no lumps.
- Gradually add heavy cream and a pinch of salt until the cream is fluffy like whipped cream consistency.
- Wait until the soaked cake is completely cool and start pipe the cream cheese whipped cream on top of the cake.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and toasted coconut flakes.