Chocolate Tres Leches Cake Is Totally Decadent

Cocoa Powder
Cocoa Powder. Vlad Fishman / Getty Images
  • 2 hrs
  • Prep: 75 mins,
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 1 cake
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Traditional tres leches cake is a butter or sponge cake soaked with a mixture of three different kinds of milk -- condensed, evaporated and cream -- and topped with meringue or whipped cream. You start with a devil’s food cake mix and add melted chocolate to the three-milk mixture that soaks the cake. Top a chocolate tres leches cake with chocolate meringue frosting or whipped cream and fudge sauce.

What You'll Need

  • Devil's Food Cake:
  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoons chocolate liqueur
  • Tres Leches Mixture:
  • 4 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 (14 -ounce) can condensed milk
  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • Chocolate Meringue Frosting:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Sprinkles of cinnamon

How to Make It

Prepare Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Pour the cake mix into the bowl of a standing mixer or into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water and 2 eggs and mix briefly.
  4. Add the softened cream cheese, sour cream, ​and melted butter.
  5. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed until well-mixed.
  6. Pour the cake batter into a 9- by 13-inch pan and place in the oven.
  1. Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the middle comes out clean.
  2. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  3. Prick holes in the cake with a serving fork or skewer.

Make the Tres Leches Mixture

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water.
  2. When the chocolate is completely melted, and while the bowl is still over the simmering water, whisk the condensed milk into the melted chocolate until they are well-mixed.
  3. Whisk in the evaporated milk, cream, 2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur, vanilla and a pinch of salt.
  4. Continue to stir over the simmering water until mixture is warmed. Turn off the heat but keep the mixture in the bowl over the hot water.

Assemble the Cake and Tres Leches

  1. Pour the milk mixture over the chocolate cake slowly, letting it drizzle into the holes. Tilt the pan around to help the mixture soak in and spoon any mixture that pools on the sides over the top.
  2. Let the milk mixture soak into the cake for an hour at room temperature.
  3. After an hour, place the cake in the refrigerator to chill.

Make Chocolate Meringue Frosting

  1. Heat the sugar and water with a pinch of salt to a boil in a small saucepan. 
  2. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 242 F, remove the syrup from the heat. This should take 4 to 5 minutes.The sugar syrup should make thin threads if you drizzle it off of a fork and will be thickened.
  3. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl of a standing mixer or large bowl and beat the egg whites into stiff peaks.
  4. Slowly and carefully pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into the beaten egg whites. Continue to beat the meringue until it cools, about 5 minutes.
  5. Gently fold 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the meringue. Be careful not to overmix, which will deflate the meringue.
  6. Spread the meringue over the cake and use a spoon to make decorative peaks in the frosting.
  7. Sprinkle the cake with cinnamon.

Notes

 

Tres leches cake is often served right out of the pan, but there are certain occasions, like birthdays, where you might want a more attractive presentation.

You can bake the cake in two round cake layer pans, but once they are out of the oven, give them at least 12 hours to soak up the milk while the cakes are still in the pans in the refrigerator.

Once they have soaked up all the milk and are very well-chilled, unmold them and frost them with the meringue or whipped cream.

It helps to line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. You can also bake the cake in a 10-inch springform pan and then remove the band around the cake once it is well-chilled and has absorbed the milk.