Courtesy Photo

It’s entirely possible the best dessert in town is the most deceptively simple. Tres leches cake has gone from a mysterious origin — practically every Latin American country claims its creation, and then there’s an ugly possibility a condensed milk company came up with it to sell its product — to a blanded-out cliché. Chef Justin West rescues it from both its murky and over-familiar history by paring it down to its core delights.

First, you will never have a moister white cake. It doesn’t hurt it soaks a dose of those three milks — evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream — so much so that most recipes say don’t use any butter or oil (Julienne isn’t giving out any secrets). So what seems utterly plain is rich and satisfying. That gets topped with whipped cream — this is a nightmare for the lactose intolerant — and it all sits in the slightest pool of crème anglaise. So there’s your eggs if you need them, plus more milk and cream, and who doesn’t want vanilla?

This, with a glass of Sauternes (it’s not just for foie gras, you know), is dessert heaven. Not that Julienne doesn’t make exquisite ice creams and sorbets, too.

138 E. Canon Perdido St., (805) 845-6488,


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