Tres leches cake is so moist and sweet and made using “3-milks.” We’re frosting ours with a delicious homemade cream cheese frosting!
What is tres leches cake?
A tres leches cake is a traditional Latin American dessert recipe. It’s a sponge cake with holes in it topped with 3 different kinds of milk products — sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream.
The sweet milk gets soaked up by the airy cake leaving you with a delicious, moist cake topped with frosting.
Tres leches translation: 3 milks cake
Check out Mexico in My Kitchen’s authentic Pastel de Tres Leches recipe for a traditional tres leches cake recipe.
What You Need for Tres Leches
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Whole milk
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Evaporated milk
- Half and half
Quick tip: If you want to make this an adult cake you can add 1-2 tablespoons of rum or brandy into the tres leches mixture.
- Cream cheese
- Powdered sugar
- Heavy cream
Lots of traditional tres leches cakes call for more of a whipped topping. Check out Mexico in My Kitchen’s recipe for her whipped topping.
How to Make Tres Leches Cake
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
Cream Butter & Sugar w/ Egg Yolks
Add the egg yolks, sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla. Use an electric hand mixer to beat until the sugar dissolves.
Beat Egg Whites
Add the egg whites to a different bowl and use the electric hand mixer to beat them until stiff peaks form — about 5-10 minutes.
Fold the egg yolk mixture with the egg white mixture and mix until combined. Then, add the dry ingredients and mix again until combined.
Transfer the batter into a greased 9×13-inch cake pan and bake at 350ºF for 40-45 minutes.
Make Tres Leches
Make the tres leches by combining the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and half and half.
Poke Holes in Cake
Let the cake cool for a bit and then use a large serving fork to poke holes in the top of your cake. Pour the leches mixture on top and let it absorb.
Use an electric hand mixer to combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla. Mix until light and fluffy.
Frost Cake & Chill
Once the cake has fully cooled, frost it with the frosting. Then, cover it and refrigerate overnight.
We suggest leaving some of the leches out of the cake for serving. After you slice the cake, pour a little tres leches on top!
Cover the cake and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Tres Leches with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs separated
- 2 cups sugar divided
- 6 tablespoons whole milk
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 8 oz. cream cheese 1 brick
- 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1.5 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare a 9×13-inch dish by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl add the 5 egg yolks, 1 ¾ cups of sugar, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Using an electric hand mixer and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- In another medium-sized bowl, use the electric hand mixer to beat the 5 egg whites on high slowly adding in the rest of the sugar. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form- around 5-10 minutes.
- Slowly fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Hand folding is key to not deflating the egg whites.
- Next whisk in the dry mixture until just combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350ºF for 40-45 minutes.
- When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool for 15-20 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, in a small bowl whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and half and half. Set aside.
- After the cake has cooled, poke holes in the top of the cake. We used a large serving fork, but a skewer or straw could easily work.
- Pour the leche mixture into the cake and let it absorb.
- While the leche mixture is soaking into the cake, prepare the frosting.
- In a medium/large bowl add the powdered sugar, cream cheese, heavy cream, and vanilla. Beat using an electric hand mixer until smooth and fluffy.
- Spread on top of the cake, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 or up to 24 hours to allow the cake to absorb the leche.
Tips & Notes
- If you want to make this an adult cake you can add 1-2 tablespoons of rum or brandy into the tres leches mixture.
- You can reserve 1 cup of the Leche mixture for serving. In that case, pour a few tablespoons over the cake once it is plated.
- The longer the cake sits the better. 24 hours would be great.