Mexican Chocolate Tres Leches Cake is a twist on a classic! Rich chocolate cake soaked in cream and sweetened milk, topped with whipped cream.
Who doesn’t love chocolate cake? It’s honestly hard to think of anything better than a traditional, simple Chocolate Cake. In fact, the only thing that could be even better is probably this delicious Chocolate Leches Cake. The sweet chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, and creamy topping all combine for a bite that’s absolutely unbeatable.
Tres Leches Cake is a traditional Latin American dessert. Originating in Mexico, the name Tres Leches means three milks. The delicious cake is named this way because it’s soaked in three different kinds of milk. Heavy cream, evaporated milk, and condensed milk all come together to make this milky cake the most tender and moist you’ll ever taste.
It’s traditionally served for birthdays, weddings, and any kind of gathering or celebration. Tres Leches is a great cake recipe to make ahead because you don’t have to worry about it drying out. You’ll be soaking it in milk anyways, so go ahead and make the cake part up to 4 days in advance and then the morning you want to serve it, drench it in the sweet cream mixture, letting it soak while you finish the rest of your party preparations.
This Chocolate Tres Leches Cake is topped with our homemade Easy Whipped Cream, but you can always swap it with store-bought or homemade Cool Whip too. Skip the cream topping all together and make it even more chocolatey with a layer of rich Chocolate Ganache or scoop of Chocolate Ice Cream.
To make the traditional milky cake a rich dark chocolate flavor, you just have to add some cocoa powder and coffee to the mixture. The cocoa powder makes the Tres Leches wonderfully chocolatey, while adding coffee brings out dark chocolate notes. Hot brewed coffee or a tablespoon of espresso enhances the flavors of the chocolate for a richer, deeper chocolate flavor. If you don’t want to brew coffee or you prefer a less dark chocolate flavor, you can always substitute the coffee with boiled water.
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- Prep: Start by preheating your oven and preparing your baking pan. Spray the pan with cooking spray or lightly grease it with butter and sprinkle flour over it. The flour creates a barrier between the butter and the cake batter.
- Dry Ingredients: Add the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to your stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer use an electric hand mixer. Use the lowest speed on the electric mixer to combine the flour mixture without making a mess.
- Liquid ingredients: Whisk together the eggs, milk oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add them to the stand mixer while it’s still on the lowest speed. Slowly increase the speed until combined. Turn off the mixer, and pour in the brewed coffee. Mix the coffee in by hand. Doing this part by hand will make sure the coffee doesn’t splash out and burn you. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Tres Leches: Mix together the three kinds of milk while the cake is near the end of the baking time. When you take the cake out, pierce the top of it with a fork all over. This will create ways for the milk to soak in all over. Pour the milk mixture over the top, and then refrigerate for 3-4 hours. This will give the cake time to chill and for the milk to entirely soak in. Top it off with whipped cream and ground cinnamon right before serving.
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- Chocolate shavings: Add to the cinnamon topping by sprinkling chocolate shavings over the top. You can also just leave the cinnamon off and use all chocolate or use sweetened cocoa powder.
- Mexican Chocolate: Try adding some spice to the chocolate mixture with cayenne pepper. Up to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper should be plenty to add a little spice to the Mexican chocolate. Add chili pepper and cinnamon with the cayenne for a classic Mexican or Aztec flavor combo.
- Coffee: If you don’t want to use the brewed coffee in the recipe, you can add boiling water. To still get that coffee taste mix in 1 tablespoon instant espresso with the hot water.
- Flour: If you want a gluten-free Tres Leches Cake, try using almond flour, oat flour, or coconut flour to replace the all purpose flour.
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How to Store
- Serve: This Chocolate Tres Leches is best served chilled, after it has been soaked for at least 3 hours in the cream mixture. Store this cake after no more than 2 hours at room temperature.
- Store: Cover the cake pan in plastic wrap to store it in the fridge. It’s best within the first 48 hours but can stay good for as long as 4 days.
- Freeze: You can freeze Chocolate Tres Leches for up to 3 months. It is best frozen without the whipped cream topping. Make sure it’s covered tightly so moisture doesn’t get in, a sheet of plastic wrap before covering with aluminum foil or pan lid is a great way to preserve your cakes in the freezer.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee , you can substitute boiling water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 4 cups Whipped Cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray or butter and flour it.
- In a stand mixer on low speed mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla then add it to the stand mixer on low then medium speed until just combined and finally add in the hot coffee carefully and stir it in by hand until just combined (do not turn on the mixer, it may splash on you).
- Pour into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- While the cake is baking whisk together the heavy cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk.
- Remove from the oven, pierce all over with a fork and pour the milk mixture over the cake, then cover and chill for at least 3-4 hours.
- Top with whipped cream and sift ground cinnamon on top before serving.