The Devil is in the Details at Treacherous Leches

Photo by Cory Garcia
My slice of tres leches won't win any beauty awards.
Far as I can recall, I’ve never had a bad piece of tres leches. As opposed to a lot of desserts out there, it’s pretty forgiving when it comes to its creation and, as someone whose last name is Garcia, I’ll confess to being a little more forgiving when it comes to the magical combination of cake covered in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. Although I tend to be a cake and three milks purist, I acknowledge that as a dessert it’s not above some modifications, whether that be sneaking some fruit in the middle or inviting chocolate to the party.

Enter Treacherous Leches, a new dessert stall located at The Conservatory, that is tres leches-centric. You can’t miss it because it’s right inside the door of the downtown food hall, which is convenient if you’re in a rush to experience their variations on the classic. Treacherous Leches keep it pretty simple in terms of aesthetics and presentation, so just know you might have to work a little if you’re hoping to impress the foodies of Instagram.

For my first visit, I kept it classic with the traditional tres leches, although they do have chocolate, red velvet, and pina colada variants available, in addition to carrot cake and some huge-looking portions of doughnut bread pudding. In my case, they gave me the option of adding whipped cream to the tres leches and, for reasons I’ll be getting into shortly, you should definitely say yes to the whipped cream.

Treacherous Leches tagline is “the heaven of tres leches and so much more” but divine is not the word I would use to describe what I plunged my fork into. While their tres leches is not bad — for all of its issues, I never thought it anything less than fine — it does have some issues that keep it from being something you should go out of your way to seek out.

Part of that likely has to do with the fact that it’s coming from a stall and not a bakery setting. The slices are pre-portioned, which is fine for most desserts but opens up tres leches to drying out, and in this instance the upper third of my tres leches didn’t have that wet, bordering on soggy consistency that I look for. It’s a dessert about balance from top to bottom, but what I got instead was a bottom living in a puddle while the upper part was just sort of there. This is where the whip cream helps out, by adding some much needed moisture to the top of the cake, although I can’t help but feel if you have to use “much needed moisture” and “tres leches” in the same sentence there are issues.

The flavor of the tres leches was fine but a bit one-note. Many places will go with some sort of add-on, like a drizzle of caramel, to highlight the core flavor of the tres leches, but Treacherous Leches plays it straight, leaving you with just the slightly too sweet flavors of the core dish. And for what it’s worth, this tres leches had me wishing I had a glass of water to wash it down with, as it dried out my throat something fierce.

As someone with a deep love for tres leches — I really wanted a three-tiered tres leches wedding cake — I’m of the opinion that just fine tres leches is better than no tres leches at all, and if you’re downtown when the mood strikes you then I’m glad Treacherous Leches is there to have your back. I’ll be visiting at some point to try out the other varieties, but based on my first exposure, it might be a minute before I get around to it.