Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

This recipe looks hard, but it’s not. Promise. A very easy chocolate cake is transformed into a version of tres leches cake, the classic Latin American dessert, by drenching it with evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream and topping it with a lightly sweetened whipped cream. Each component of this recipe — the cake, the tres leches and the whipped cream — are all adapted from “Simple Cake: All You Need to Keep Your Friends and Family in Cake” by Odette Williams, a choose-your-own-adventure cookbook that provides you with several cake and toppings recipes that you can combine as you wish. Ms. Williams’s recipe doesn’t call for it, but adding a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the whipped cream is a lovely addition.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 9 persons



  1. Step 1

    Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom only of a 9-by-13-inch cake pan (preferably metal), leaving a 1/4-inch border that remains ungreased. Do not butter the sides of the pan.
  2. Step 2

    Place a large sifter or a sieve in a large bowl. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt and sift. Add the sugar and whisk to combine.
  3. Step 3

    In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until combined. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps and the batter is smooth. Carefully pour in the boiling water and stir until combined.
  4. Step 4

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake bounces back when lightly pressed, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Step 5

    Meanwhile, make the tres leches: In a large bowl, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk (setting 3 tablespoons aside for the whipped cream), heavy cream and vanilla bean seeds or extract (if using) and whisk to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not using immediately.
  6. Step 6

    Remove the cake from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the cake’s edges. Cool completely.
  7. Step 7

    While the cake is still in the pan, use a skewer or a fork to poke small holes through the cake to the bottom, about an inch apart. Slowly spoon the tres leches over the top of the cake, giving it time to soak in. Once the liquid is absorbed, repeat until all the tres leches is used. (Toward the end, the tres leches will pool at the edges, but don’t worry; it will be absorbed while in the fridge.) Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 to 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  8. Step 8

    When ready to serve, make the whipped cream: Add the reserved condensed milk along with the cream, vanilla and cinnamon (if using) to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium high until the cream has doubled in volume, forms soft peaks and is light and fluffy. Spread the cake with the cream and sprinkle the chocolate shavings on top. Serve from the pan.