Tag Archives: ates and adings

The Celebratory Cake

20 Jul
“Ate” – pronounced “ah-tay,” basically means “older sister” in Tagalog. While I don’t actually have an older sister by blood, I do have amazing ladies in my life whom I call “ate.” I’ve known one of them, Liz, since college. I joined the Filipino Student Association, where everyone is paired with an older “brother” and “sister” (we were a lot like a sorority or fraternity). Many people end up unofficially “adopting” younger members whom they get along really well with, which is what happened with Liz and I. I’m happy to say, even years out of college, we’re still really great friends. I still call her Ate Liz.
Ate Liz was here for both work and play during the 4th of July weekend (yes I realize this post is a long time coming). She told me about this cake and since I was craving dessert after dinner with friends on the Sunday night she was here, she offered to show me how to make it. It’s not a complicated recipe at all, unless you decide to make the cake portion from scratch. Either way, the biggest thing you’ll need for this is patience. It’ll be awhile until you can dig in, as it requires quite a bit of refrigeration. But once it’s ready, it’s so worth it – it’s creamy, sweet but not cloying, and those toffee pieces add to the caramel flavor with a bit of crunch.
Apparently Liz only makes this cake when she’s celebrating something, thus the nickname “Celebratory Cake”. She said a friend of hers back in Orlando would be jealous to find out she was making the cake for me, without any big, celebratory intention. Though it was Independence Day weekend, there was a different occasion for making the cake. We ate it while watching movies and cracking inside jokes and reminiscing about college days. Isn’t rare quality time with old friends – “sisters” really – a reason to celebrate?
Liz’s Chocolate Tres Leches – a.k.a. The Celebratory Cake


  • 1 boxed cake mix, like devil’s food or chocolate OR a chocolate cake made from scratch
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 jar caramel topping (the kind you put on ice cream)
  • 1 tub of cold whipped topping (i.e. Cool Whip)
  • 1 bag of toffee pieces (i.e. Heath Bar toffee)
Directions (hopefully I remembered this all correctly…)
If you’re using a boxed mix, make the cake according to package directions. Otherwise make a chocolate-based cake using your own recipe. While the cake is baking, empty the contents of the evaporated milk can into a large bowl. Pour the entire jar of caramel into the bowl and mix thoroughly with the milk.
When the cake is finished baking, remove from the oven and using a knife, make slits into the cake. Pour the bowl of the evaporated milk-caramel mixture over the entire cake, allowing the liquid to seep into the slits so the cake can soak up the liquid. Stick the cake into the refrigerator and let it cool completely. This may take a few hours so if you’re in a hurry, you could stick it in the freezer for maybe 30 minutes or so. I wouldn’t keep it in long because I don’t know how the liquid would react in the freezer. Refrigerating it is best.
Once cooled, remove the cake and completely “frost” the top with the whipped topping/Cool Whip. Sprinkle toffee pieces throughout the top. You can enjoy this now or chilled further in the refrigerator. This tastes best when it’s cold and the cake has been completely soaked with the caramel milk.

Do you have a go-to recipe for when you’re celebrating something?