Got milk?

June is Dairy Month!

June is Dairy Month! Since 1939, the National Dairy Council has encouraged families to make milk their beverage of choice. Originally, it was a way to distribute extra milk during the warm months of summer by grocer organizations. Dairy's rich history continues with people, communities, companies from across the country observing Dairy Month in a variety of ways.

In many areas, dairy farm families open their gates to visitors for tours, while local fairs and festivals offer taste testing and events featuring tasty dairy products. Dairy farming is a family tradition, one that has been a way of life for many generations. Ninety-eight percent of dairy farms are family owned and operated. These hardworking men and women provide Americans with fresh dairy products year-round.

Whether it's in coffee, cereal, smoothies or dairy-based dressings, adding one more serving of milk to your family's day can help ensure they get the nutrients they need to build strong bones and teeth. Dairy provides three of the four nutrients that are typically lacking in American diets: calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Dairy's unique combination of nutrients plays key roles in preventing heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. Dairy also is important for building strong bones and teeth.

Low-fat, fat-free milk or lactose-free dairy products are the best choice for the fat and calorie conscious, or those who are lactose intolerant. An 8-ounce glass of whole milk has 150 calories and 8 grams of fat (4.5 grams saturated fat). If you choose an 8-ounce glass of fat-free milk, you consume 85 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.

This dairy-licious recipe for Tres Leches Cake is popular in Mexico and has been updated with a few time-saving twists. It's typically soaked with three kinds of milk -- sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. This recipe uses frosting as the third milk, in the form of whipped cream. It's a delicious way to celebrate National Dairy Month.

TRES LECHES CAKE

If you're pressed for time, just use a good quality packaged butter cake mix and follow the directions for baking, soaking and frosting the cake below.

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

Frosting:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk Mixture:

1 cup half & half

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Berries (Optional):

1 cup fresh raspberries or strawberries, leaves removed

1 cup fresh blueberries or blackberries

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted, optional

1. Heat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour 8-inch round cake pan; set aside.

2. Combine sugar, butter and vanilla in bowl; beat at medium speed until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, continue beating until fluffy.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl; mix well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed until well-mixed. Add 1/2 cup milk; continue beating until well mixed.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes and turn the cake halfway around. Continue to bake another 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

5. Place cake in refrigerator to cool completely. The cake also can be made a day ahead, if desired. (A chilled or cold cake is much sturdier than a cake at room temperature, and easier to cut.)

6. Meanwhile, make the frosting by combining whipping cream, powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in bowl; beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

7. To make the soaking liquid, combine half & half, sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in bowl; mix well.

8. To slice the cake in half horizontally, you'll need a small paring knife and a large serrated or bread knife.

9. Use the paring knife to score the entire outside edge of the cake halfway up the side. Go slowly, get down at eye-level if necessary to keep it even, and don't cut too deeply. Take the serrated knife and cut through the cake along the indentation made with the paring knife.

10. Use the serrated knife to lift one layer of the cake, turn it over and place it, cut-side up, onto serving plate. Carefully pour half of milk mixture over top of the cake, a little at a time, allowing it to soak in before adding more.

11. Spread a 1/2-inch layer of frosting onto soaked cake. Top with second cake layer, placed on top, cut-side up. Pour remaining milk mixture over cake. Frost with remaining frosting. Refrigerate until serving time. Top with berries and/or coconut just before serving, if desired.

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