Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Coconut Tres Leches Cake is the perfect cake for coconut lovers! Three milks soak into the yellow sponge cake. You’ll love the lightly sweetened whipped cream.

You all quickly fell in love with our chocolate tres leches cake, so today we’re sharing a NEW version: Coconut Tres Leches Cake.

This yellow sponge cake is soaked with three milks and has coconut flavor in the cake, in the milk soak and in the frosting. It’s 100% from scratch and delicious!

closeup of cutting a piece of cake

Why you’ll love this cake:

  • makes a small 8″ round cake
  • 100% homemade
  • great flavor…not overly sweet
  • fluffy yellow sponge cake texture
  • lightly sweetened whipped cream
a coconut tres leches cake on a plate with one slice missing

What is tres leches cake?

Tres leches means “3 milks”. This cake is a yellow sponge cake with a 3 milk soak over it. In tres leches cakes those three milks can vary, but ours is sweetened condensed milk, coconut cream and heavy cream.

Does the milk make the cake soggy? Not necessarily, but the cake does end up very very moist as the milk soaks in. If you are afraid you won’t like all the milk in it, only use about ½ to start.

How to Make Coconut Tres Leches Cake

This cake may seem like it has a lot of steps (and because it is 100% homemade, it does) but if you take one step at a time it should be easy to follow. This recipe works best if you have a springform pan.

Here are the steps:

  • Toast the coconut. This won’t take long and is optional, but makes such a pretty topping for the cake.
  • Make the cake. You’ll notice you whip the egg whites separately, then fold them in at the end. This makes your cake light and fluffy.
  • Mix the milk soak. This is the easiest part! Mix the milks and then pour over the warm cake after it bakes.
  • Make the frosting. The frosting is easy to make and is a lightly sweetened homemade whipped cream. If you need a shortcut and don’t mind Cool Whip, you can fold shredded coconut into that instead.

How do you store tres leches cake?

Store this cake in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It will also freeze well.

a piece of cake on a plate
a piece of cake on a plate

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

5 from 1 vote
Coconut Tres Leches Cake is the perfect cake for coconut lovers! Three milks soak into the yellow sponge cake. You'll love the lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Servings 12
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the toasted coconut:

  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

For the cake:

  • 5 large eggs (separated) )at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar divided
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour lightly spooned into measuring cup then leveled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the soaking liquid:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 can coconut milk only use ½ cup of the liquid & save the cream (13.66 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

For the frosting:

  • 1 3/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (heaping) coconut cream from the canned milk above
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Instructions
 

Toast the coconut:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the coconut evenly onto a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden brown, stirring every 3 minutes, for a total of 8-12 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.

Make the cake:

  • Make sure you start by separating the egg yolks from the egg whites into two separate bowls.
  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour the bottom only of a 9-inch springform pan.
  • Beat the egg yolks only with ¾ cup sugar until light in color and doubled in volume.
  • Stir in milk and vanilla.
  • Mix in the flour and baking powder.
  • In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and the remaining ¼ cup sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Gently fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the cake batter.
  • Fold in remaining egg whites. Be careful not to mix too much. The fluffy egg whites are what gives this cake its soft texture.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 10 minutes.
  • Poke holes in the top of the cake with a large fork.

Prepare the soaking liquid:

  • In a large bowl, combine the condensed milk, heavy cream and ½ cup of the liquid from the can of coconut milk. Save the cream for the topping. Mix in the coconut extract. Whisk vigorously until combined.
  • Pour the milk mixture over the warm cake while it is still in the pan.
  • Cool cake completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate until cold.

Make the frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (this works best if your bowl is cold) with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar and coconut cream until it thickens and holds peaks.
  • Fold in the shredded coconut.
  • Loosen edge of cooled cake with knife before removing side of pan.
  • Frost cake with the whipped cream, then top with the toasted coconut.
  • Store the cake covered in the refrigerator.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 12 pieces, with 1 serving being 12 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: 453kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 285mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 676IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 2mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 453
Keyword cinco de mayo, coconut cake, comfort food
closeup of a piece of cake with one bite taken out

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can you use gluten free flour?

We’ve not tried GF flour with this recipe, but an all-purpose GF flour might work.

Do you have to toast the coconut?

No. You can leave the coconut white if you’d like.

I don’t have coconut extract. Can I use vanilla?

Yes. Vanilla will work well.

Can I use Cool Whip for the frosting?

Yes. If you like Cool Whip you can use that instead of whipping your own whipped cream.

Do you have to use a springform pan?

You can use a cake pan, just make sure the sides are at least 3″ tall. And I’d recommend lining the pan with parchment paper so that you can remove it to frost it.

About Julie Clark

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