Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Last night I made Todd one of his favorite desserts, tres leches cake. It had been a while since I’d made one, but after seeing a coconut version on the stand mixer blog, I was inspired. The stand mixer version sounded good, but I was in the mood for a non-cake-mix enhanced cake so I used a recipe off Chowhound.

This one was good, but seemed a bit sweet, had a lot of eggs and had a low cake-to-milks ratio. But that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because Todd loved it and a lot of the Chowhound reviewers did too. As for me, I’m going to make a few more tres leches cakes these next few weeks and try to find a favorite. If you have a favorite, let me know! I will round up a few later today and make a “To-Try” list.

Full Recipe Here from Chowhound is here.

For a smaller cake, cut the recipe in half and make it in an 8 inch square glass pan. I did it and it worked just fine, though I did increase the final whipping cream topping slightly. Also, (and this is kind of trivial but someone on the Chowhound thread was wondering) I always whip the whites first so that I don’t have to clean the beater. The whites stay airy while they sit and wait for the yolks to be beaten.


Coconut Tres Leches Cake

3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3.5 oz/96 grams)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (2.25 oz/65 grams)
7 oz (half a can) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon rum
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup fresh blackberries

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch glass baking dish.

Beat egg whites in a large metal bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Beat egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy – about 3 minutes.

Gently stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Then fold in remaining whites.

Sprinkle flour over egg mixture and gently fold flour into egg mixture, just until there are no more white flour streaks. Pour batter into the buttered baking dish and bake on center rack for 20-25 minutes – cake should look puffed and golden. Place on a wire cooling rack and poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick or a chopstick (I used a chopstick). Cool for 15-20 minutes.

Whisk together three milks and rum, and pour mixture evenly over cake. Continue cooling cake, about 45 minutes more, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

A few hours before serving, whip the cream until stiff peaks form, then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Spread it over the cake. Sprinkle toasted coconut over cake.

For toasted coconut, spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake at 375 for about 8 minutes or until it starts to brown. Stir it around. Sprinkle toasted coconut over cake before serving. Cut into squares and garnish with blackberries.

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  1. says

    I actually just made one of these for the first time this past weekend for my birthday. I used a recipe from Warren Brown’s CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch and paired it with a seven minute frosting.

    My cake definitely looked a lot more dense than yours, but I thought the flavor was very good. His recipe doesn’t use any coconut milk, but it does include cinnamon and dark rum – giving it a nice depth of flavor. I do wish the cake itself was a little lighter, but that’s an experiment for another time!

  2. melissa says

    That looks so good, Anna! I’ll have to make this soon.
    By the way, have you ever had the Tres Leches donut at Donut Plant (Lower East side in NYC)?? Must try it the next time you’re in town.

  3. says

    We visited Puerto Rico last month and had it everynight for dessert! I made it for a Mother’s Day bbq. I used Emeril Lagasse’s (sp?) for the cake portion and the “tres leches” portion, but just used canned (gasp!!) whipped cream for the top. It was amazing. I want to try your’s also since I love the idea of coconut and rum flavoring.

  4. says

    I’ve never had a tres leches cake but I just know I’d like it…I used to must my cake and ice cream together when I was little. Something about that soft, soaked texture I love! This version looks like it is SUPER soaked!

  5. says

    Heather, I commented on your site regarding your recipe. I’ll add it to the list.

    Melissa, I haven’t eaten a donut in ages! Maybe I’ll have one when I come to NYC in July.

    Judy, I’ve been working on a list and Emeril’s recipe was on I picked.

    Claire, I’m going to keep my eyes out for kids who mash their ice cream with their cake ;).

  6. says

    I grew up in Ecuador, and Tres Leches was (and still is!) one of my favorites. I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I have been using it since I left Ecuador in 1997!

    Torta Tres Leches:
    4 eggs, separated
    1 tsp baking powder
    4 tsp ice water
    1 c sugar
    1 c flour
    Beat egg whits until fluffy. Add yolks and sugar. Beat well. Add flour and baking powder. Add ice water. Pour into greased 9×13 pan, bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
    While cake is baking, blend sauce ingredients (1 c whipping cream, 1 tsp almond extract, 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk, 1 12 oz can evaporated milk.) Once cake is cooled 5 minutes, pierce with a toothpick all over and pour sauce over cake. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Before serving, whip 1 c whipping cream until stiff peaks form, and spread over cold cake. Sprinkle with coconut and chopped macadamia nuts if desired.

    There you have it! I have no idea how similar this one is to the ones you have already posted, but it definitely beats others I’ve had that call for cake mixes and cool whip!

  7. says

    Sarah, thanks for posting the authentic cake from Ecuador! I’ll bet yours is really good. If you compare the base ingredients to the one above, the proportions are similar. Cutting yours in half you’d have 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup of flour (same as above minue one egg)and then the cream would be 1/2 cup cream, 7 oz coconut milk and 6 oz evaporated milk. So it looks like yours has a little more soaking liquid, but since your cake is missing that extra egg is probably a little more dry and needs it. This looks like another good one to try.

    Tres Leches Cakes are so basic, yet so good.

    Also, I don’t care for the chocolate type. I tried one at a well known cafe bakery and it just tasted like a pile of mashed up, overly sweet chocolate cake.

  8. says

    That cake looks delicious! And, I’m not known to be a ‘cake eater’. This cake looks so moist and any cake with coconut milk and coconut has got to be good.

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