The tres leches cake is simply a chiffon sponge cake that has been soaked in a “milk syrup” or a “sweet cream sauce” traditionally made from three milks: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream, hence the name. My version starts with the classic then swaps out the heavy cream for flavor-filled coconut milk for a taste of the tropics. It’s sweet, creamy, coconutty and sooo good.
FOR THE CAKE:
- 5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 1–1/4 cups (250g) plus 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (use 1/2 tablespoon if not using vanilla bean)
- 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups (195g) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (152g) unsweetened coconut cream
FOR THE TRES LECHES:
- 1 cup (228g) full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 (14-oz) can (375ml) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (12-oz) can (350ml) evaporated milk
- 1/3 cup (78ml) dark rum
FOR THE TOPPING:
- 2 cups (473ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup (30g) confectioners sugar
- 1/2 cup (50g) toasted coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×9 or 9×13″ baking pan (I used 9×9 because I wanted a thicker cake).
- In a stand mixer or large bowl and a hand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and 1-1/4 cup (250g) of the sugar on high until light yellow in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Scrape the beans from the vanilla pod and add to the sugar mixture along with the vanilla extract and coconut cream, blending until combined.
- In a separate large bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing until combined.
- Add the flour mixture into the egg yolks and sugar blending on low until just combined, being careful not to overmix, about 1 minute.
- Transfer batter to a large bowl and set aside.
- In a clean and completely dry mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
- Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter and mix by hand until incorporated. Add the second 1/3 and continue to fold in gently, then add the remaining 1/3 of egg whites, folding in even more gently until there are no streaks remaining, being very careful to not over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden, the cake springs back when touched or a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Set aside in pan to let cool.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the Tres Leches liquid by whisking together the coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and dark rum, strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps from the coconut milk.
- When the cake is cooled to room temperature, use the blunt end of a thick skewer to poke holes over the entire surface of the cake.
- Slowly pour the milk mixture over the cake evenly until absorbed, making sure to thoroughly soak the edges.
- Tightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream with confectioners sugar for 3-5 minutes until stiff peaks are formed and spread evenly over the cake.
- In a small fry pan, lightly toast the coconut until fragrant and light brown in color.
- Top the cake with shredded coconut and enjoy!
Cake must be kept refrigerated and will keep for up to 3 days.