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Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Coconut Tres Leches

This delicious and creamy cake is made up of a light and airy coconut based cake, that's soaked in a vanilla-y mixture of three milks. There's the option of the traditional Mexican tres leches milk mixture below (whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk), AND there's also a dairy free option, made up of almond milk, oat milk, and coconut milk. Just choose whichever one best suits your taste buds + dietary needs :) Whichever one you choose, the cake will be topped with a fluffy whipped coconut cream and fresh fruit, for extra richness and a nice sweet and juicy burst of freshness to balance it out. Enjoy, my friends!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword tres leches
Servings 12 people

Ingredients

Coconut Cake

  • 6 eggs yolks and whites separated
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk full-fat
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Dairy-Free Tres Leches Mixture (choose this OR the Traditional Mixture below)

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk full fat
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk (click if you want to make from scratch) (if you want to make it from scratch, I recommend the toasted almond milk recipe linked here, but just cut it in half to make 1 1/2 cups instead)
  • 1/2 cup oat milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey

Traditional Tres Leches Mixture (choose this OR the Dairy-Free Mixture above)

  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 3 cans full fat coconut milk, **refrigerated overnight** (I used Whole Foods 365 brand)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Coconut Cake

  1. Lightly grease two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Transfer the mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.

  3. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (it can be the same one you used for the egg whites), beat the egg yolks with the sugar at medium speed until the mixture lightens to a pale yellow, and when you dip a spoon in the mixture and pull it out, the mixture it runs down in a thin steady stream, rather than goopy clumps. This takes about 3 to 4 minutes of whisking on the stand mixer (it will take longer if you do it by hand).

  4. Add the coconut milk and vanilla extract to the egg yolk mixture and mix until smooth. In a separate medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the egg whites in three increments.

  5. Evenly distribute the batter between your two 8-inch cake pans. Bake them in the oven at 350 until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

  6. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Place cakes back inside pan and poke all over top with fork (taking them out of the pan before putting them back in helps make sure they won't get stuck inside after you pour the liquid in). Evenly distribute EITHER the traditional tres leches OR the dairy-free tres leches mixture between two cakes (do NOT pour both, only one or the other—whichever your tastes/dietary restrictions prefer!) Cover the cakes and refrigerate them for 4 to 6 hours.

  7. To assemble, unmold one of the cakes from the pan onto the serving plate (it's okay if some milk still remains unabsorbed, and yes it's okay that it's upside down, you'll be covering it in whipped cream so no one will be able to tell). Evenly spread the top of the cake with half of the whipped coconut cream. Unmold the other cake onto a clean flat surface (like a large plate or a cutting board), and then slide it on top of the first cake layer. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining half of the whipped coconut cream, garnish with fresh fruit, and slice and serve. Keep refrigerated.

Dairy-Free Tres Leches Mixture (choose this OR the Traditional Mixture below)

  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl until combined.

Traditional Tres Leches Mixture (choose this OR the Dairy-Free Mixture above)

  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl until combined.

Coconut Whipped Cream

  1. Place your stand mixer's mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.

  2. While the cans were in the refrigerator, the coconut cream will have separated and risen to the top of the can. The coconut cream is thick and white, whereas the rest of the coconut "milk" in the bottom of the can is more clear. **You ONLY want the nice thick white part.**

  3. So, open each can and scoop out the white coconut cream part, placing the white coconut cream into a measuring cup. After going through the three cans, you should have about 3/4 cup of coconut cream.

  4. Place the coconut cream in the (cold) bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the cream at medium high speed until it's smooth and creamy, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until smooth and spreadable, about 1 to 2 minutes more.

  5. If your mixture is too stiff or clumpy, you can add a tablespoon or two of the clear liquid from the can and mix it for another 30 seconds to help smooth it out.

  6. Keep refrigerated.