Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

If you haven’t tried a tres leches cake, you haven’t lived. This Chocolate Tres Leches Cake has the most amazing flavor ever! Made with three milks, this cake is a crowd pleaser. Served at birthday parties and major holidays, this is cake is sure to become a tradition.

There is something about the taste of a Chocolate Tres Leches Cake. I normally have vanilla, and sometimes even coconut, but I knew I needed to try a chocolate version. The really cool thing about leche cakes is they are soooooo moist and yummy. There isn’t another cake out there quite like this!

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

slice of Chocolate Tres Leches Cake on a plate

WHY IS IT CALLED TRES LECHE CAKE?

Also, known as pastel de tres leches in Spanish, a tres leche cake is a sponge type cake. Most people know this as a butter cake. It’s soaked in three types of dairy or milk.

  • heavy cream
  • evaporated milk
  • condensed milk

These types of cakes were seen in Mexico in the 19th century. You could also see these types of recipes on condensed milk cans in the 40s. Tres leches cakes are nothing new, but they sure are delicious. I personally love that there is so much history and culture behind this cake. However, anyone from any walk of life can enjoy it.

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake in a 9x13 pan with two slices missing

How to Make Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups very cold heavy cream

You will want to refrigerate the bowl of a stand mixer for 10 minutes to get it cold. The colder, the better!

In another bowl, you will want to sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder together (my favorite part). Then, you will beat the cold heavy cream in the cold stand mixer bowl. You will use the whisk attachment for one minute.

Because you’re making chocolate whipped cream, don’t forget the cocoa mixture. Put half of the cocoa/sugar mixture in the bowl and beat until it’s fluffy. You’ll then want to add the remaining part. Continue to beat until soft peaks form and the mixture is spreadable. It should be fluffy and light.

I think you will love the chocolate spin on this whipped cream. Sure, white whipped cream seems to be a favorite, but that’s because they haven’t tasted this amazing concoction.

WHAT EVENT WOULD YOU SERVE THIS CAKE AT?

You can serve this cake ANYTIME or anywhere. I, however, prefer to serve this cake at birthday parties. I love having this cake at my personal birthday party. You may find that your family enjoys it too.

It’s also perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake with chocolate whipped cream on a plate

SHOULD TRES LECHE CAKE BE SERVED COLD?

Another reason I love this cake is because you can make it a few days in advance. In fact, the longer it sits, the better! As the milk sits in the fridge overnight, it will soak up some of that yummy milk that was poured on top.

As you store the cake, keep this in mind. You can add the whipped cream at that time, or you can add it to the cake, right before you serve it. I think it’s delicious either way! I prefer to have fresh whipped cream on mine, but you can serve it how you like it.

HOW LONG WILL Tres Leches CAKE LAST?

When we make a cake, so much time and effort goes into it. I like knowing that the cake is going to last a while. With this Chocolate Tres Leches Cake, it can last up to 4-5 days in the fridge, which is GREAT.

I personally would recommend that you consume it within 48 hours. You could always try freezing the leftover cake to see if that helps you enjoy it longer. This tip will especially work for those who don’t have a lot of people in their family. Around here, this cake is gone within the first 24 hours.

CAN YOU FREEZE A TRES LECHE CAKE?

Something interesting that you may be thinking about, as you decide to make this cake or not is, can you freeze it? You can freeze this cake up to three months in the freezer, which is nice.

Once you freeze it, you’ll want to pull it out and THEN top it with the whipped cream. Making whipped cream is actually really easy.

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake with bite out of it

WHAT KIND OF DRINK GOES WITH TRES LECHES CAKE?

Personally, tres leches cake is best served with a warm cup of black coffee. Since this cake is served cold, I like sipping on the coffee, while enjoying the sweetness of the cake.

Of course, you can also drink anything you’d like. Hot cocoa? A cold glass of milk? Whatever you choose!

OTHER CHOCOLATE Cake RECIPES TO TRY

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake with chocolate whipped cream on a plate
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake with chocolate whipped cream on a plate

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

4.4 from 43 votes
Servings 15
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients
 

For the cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup freshly brewed strong hot coffee

Milk Filling:

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
  • ¾ cup half and half
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups very cold heavy cream

Instructions
 

Make the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  • For the cake, put flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix well.
  • In a stand mixer, mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla together. Slowly add in the mix of dry ingredients while the mixer is on low. Add the coffee and make sure everything is combined. The batter will be very thin.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when you touch it.
  • While the cake is still warm, poke lots of holes all over the cake with a small skewer or a fork.

Make the filling:

  • Whisk sweetened condensed milk, half-and-half, evaporated milk, and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder together in a bowl. The cocoa may not completely dissolve, but whisk until it is mostly incorporated.
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture evenly over the warm cake.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely.

Make the Whipped Cream Topping:

  • *Refrigerate the bowl of a stand mixer for 10 minutes to get it cold.*
  • Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together.
  • Beat the cold heavy cream in the cold stand mixer bowl using the whisk attachment for 1 minute.
  • Add half of the sugar/cocoa powder mixture. Beat until it is fully mixed in, then add the remaining sugar mixture.
  • Continue to beat until soft peaks form and the mixture is spreadable. It should be fluffy and light.

Assemble the cake:

  • Spread the chocolate whipped cream on the cooled cake.
  • Drizzle with chocolate syrup or sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Video

Notes

The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 563kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 401mg | Potassium: 387mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 910IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 199mg | Iron: 2.1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 563
Keyword chocolate cake, cinco de mayo, easy cake, milk cake
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake title image

About Julie Clark

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe. Outstanding cake. The whipped topping was so simple and insanely delicious

  2. 5 stars
    Deliciously decadent. Made it for my mother-in-law, who loves everything chocolate, for Mothers day. She loved it as well as others in the family. Definitely recommend this cake if you are a chocolate lover

  3. I looooove makin a chocolate tres leches! The only real differences in mine is that first, I use dark chocolate cocoa powder, I do my eggs seperated (whip my whites with half the sugar/cocoa mixture and fold them in last for big beautiful air pockets fer the milk to sit in without weighin the cake down) and a dash of cinnamon and fer the drunken version, I add (purple label) Cafe XO Patron (you can use Kahlua if you have it but the Cafe tastes just like it and is double the proofage!) I sub out part of the coffee liquid for the liquor in the cake batter and also add some to the milk mixture AND to the whipped cream. Then I dust the top of the whipped cream with extra dark chocolate cocoa powder and cinnamon.

    1. Hi Michelle, I’m from Australia and would love to make this cake however, with the filling ingredients the is an ingredient for half and half without saying exactly what it is, are you able to tell me what this is thanks?. I am going to make it as the recipe is then again with with your changes as I like what you have done.

      Thank you Christine

      1. Half and half is the milk product between cream and regular drinking milk. You can find it by the coffee creamers.

  4. 5 stars
    Awesome Recipe, thank you so much for sharing!!! Taste really good, moist and soft, EXCELLENT will make again

  5. 5 stars
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Awesome Recipe, thank you so much for sharing!!! Taste really good, moist and soft, EXCELLENT will make again

    1. I know this is two years old, but for anyone who still wants a suggestion, strongly brewed spiced chai (tea) is amazing as a coffee substitute in baked goods. It does add some spice, but it tastes so good with the chocolate and deepens the chocolate flavor just like coffee. I have tried both, but honestly prefer the chai.

    1. you can use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir it. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and as it sits it will thicken slightly.

  6. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing, looks delish. I am considering making this in cupcakes. I know the baking time would be different. Any suggestions?

  7. I think I’ve going to have a very happy cowboy crew at my table next week when I serve this for dessert! This sounds SO good! can’t wait!

  8. I followed this recipe today but not get desired result.
    Should the buttermilk at room temp? Im looking at where I got it wrong. I did this before and it was great but not this time.

  9. Do I have to use a stand mixer? Can I use a hand mixer when making the whipped cream or anything else? Looks delicious, please say yes!!!

  10. 5 stars
    Really rich and moist. Will need a glass of milk but worth every bite. Added to my favorite recipes. Definitely for a chocolate lover but, like every tres leches cake eat it asap after making if you don’t like your cake too mushy.

    1. Hi, most tres leches cakes call for far more eggs and very little butter or oil. I think they can hold up for up to four days. However, this recipe is not absponge cake recipe, and I think that is why it may be mushy if not eaten right away. I am glad you pointed thisnout because I wondered if anyone would make such a comment. I need to make one that can stay in the fridge overnight. I am going to do the topping the day of, however.

  11. 5 stars
    If you add the cocoa powder with the condensed milk before you add the other milks, the powder will completely dissolve.

  12. 5 stars
    I made this cake for Easter, it was delicious!!! I drizzled warm caramel syrup over it instead of whip cream. The best cake ever!!!

  13. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe!!! I made it for a friend’s birthday and it was a HIT! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us!

    Is it possible to make this exact cake minus the cocoa powder? Would it produce a good Vanilla Tres Leches?

      1. I saw that, but I would like to make it as a sheet cake 🙂 Could I just double the Vanilla Tres Leches to fit the 9×13 pan? Thank you so much for responding!

  14. 4 stars
    This was a really delicious cake! I did have one problem though: the cake was still in the mushy in the center at 35 minutes so I left it in another 10 minutes. It finally cooked in the middle, but the center fell slightly. I followed the recipe to the letter, so I don’t know why this happened. I loved how the cake absorbed all the milks! Other tres leches recipes I have made just couldn’t hold all that fluid.

  15. 5 stars
    This cake was amazingly delicious. I made it for my birthday. The frosting was so good, reminds me of tiramisu. Incredible. However one minor tweak, I think next time I will be adding just a little more milk mixture as it wasn’t as “wet” as I prefer. Still hands down the best recipe I’ve made. Yum yum.

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