Tres Leches Cake w/ Coconut

So my quest for more food that reminds me of Phoenix continued this past week. Brian came home from work explaining that it was his turn to help supply lunch for the lunch club he belongs to. What is lunch club you might ask? It is a group of people from his office that get together about every two weeks and share a themed lunch.  Each lunch club meeting rotates for both who is in charge, and what the theme will be. Brian came home explaining that they decided on a “Mexican” theme and he was bringing in guacamole and a dessert. “So, any ideas on a dessert?” he asked me. I see where this is going, I am making the dessert. As we did a little brain storming on ideas I was left unsatisfied with what we came up with. How could we have lived in Phoenix for as long as we did and I am left empty in the Mexican dessert department? So I started to think of all the desserts we ate and loved there.  We thought of a few but I knew I was clearly missing something. While I was at work rolling out some challah it hit me – Tres Leches! It was our favorite dessert at a tappas restaurant we would frequent.  The owner made this fantastic Tres Leches that Brian and I adored. It was light and moist without being soggy. It was not terribly sweet, and it was topped with toasted slivered almonds that crunched against the moist cake. To describe it as delicious does not do it enough justice. But there was a catch; I did not have a recipe for one. Although, I would tell the owner of the restaurant how much I loved it and was willing to trade up the recipe for one of mine I knew she liked I never got it out of her.  I guess it was time for me to do some experimenting.

So I was doing my research and came across many recipes before I worked on my own.  I tried my best to channel that lovely cake we miss. As I was in the kitchen this weekend working on my version we ended up with a close second to the love of our past. In my own opinion it was a bit sweeter then I remember; and yet Brian thought it was equally good. (I know, I am my own worst critic.) Of the three milks used (hence: Tres Leches); I settled on the traditional evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and to switch it up - Coconut Milk! Plus the addition of some delicious dark rum!!! After letting it soak to absorb its three milks I topped it off with some toasted sweetened shredded coconut. I thought it was delightful; yet not the same as the memory of our first love. Brian had seconds and the next day ate some more. I think that says it all. I just hope Brian’s lunch club enjoys it as well.

Tres Leches Cake w/ Coconut (makes one 8 – 9 inch cake) 


1 cup of All Purpose flour

½ cup of sugar

1 ½ tsp of baking powder

Pinch of kosher salt

5 eggs (4 of them separated)

¼ cup of vegetable oil

½ tsp of vanilla

½ tsp of cream of tartar

¼ - ½ cup of sweetened, shredded coconut –toasted (for topping)

Tres Leches

1 cup of Coconut Milk

1 (12oz) can of evaporated milk

1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk

1 oz of Dark Rum

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In bowl place your oil, ¼ cup of sugar, the yolks, the 1 whole egg, and your vanilla. Whisk it all together well until mixture is smooth. To it add your flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk this all together well ad be sure it is not lumpy.

Next; either in the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl, place your egg whites with the cream of tartar. With either the standing mixer or a hand held mixer whip your whites on high until fluffy. Add in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and continue to whip on high until your whites are at a stiff peak.

Then, take about a 1/3 of your whites and add it to your flour and egg mixture. Fold it together until it is lightened. Continue adding your egg whites until they are all incorporated and your mixture is well blended and not streaky.  Pour your batter into a buttered and floured 8 – 9 inch pan lined with parchment. Smooth out the top and place it in the middle of your oven for 35 – 40 minutes. When your cake is firm and not to springy remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Finally, in a heavy bottomed pan place your coconut milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the dark rum. Place over medium heat, stirring it constantly until it is heated through and has small bubbles forming. Remove from the heat, and set aside. Flip your cake out of the pan and remove the parchment. Place in a deep plate or platter and pour the warm Tres Leches mixture over it. Let the cake soak up the mixture and place covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Serving, when you are ready to serve your cake you can spoon the Tres Leches mixture over the cake to remoisten it a bit. Sprinkle it with the toasted shredded coconut and serve. When slicing and plating be sure to spoon some of the Tres Leches mixture directly onto the plate or over the cake slices. I feel this cake is best when served chilled. Enjoy!