This Coconut Tres Leches Cake gives a sweet, coconut twist on the classic Tres Leches Cake. All you need is imitation coconut extract and sweetened coconut flakes to take this cake to the next level!
I LLLLLOOOOOVVVEEEE tres leches cake. Sweet, fluffy cake drenched in 3 milks that not only keeps it moist but gives it unbelievable flavor & texture. Not to mention the sweet, fluffy whipped cream frosting and adorning it with bright red cherries…it’s a win-win all around. I particularly crave this dessert when the temperature rises. It’s cool consistency & creamy texture make it a fantastic summer time dessert.
One thing that is important to note about tres leches cake is that it is not classic yellow cake. It’s more of a sponge cake. We’re not looking for overly moist, rich, buttery, yellow cake. There is no butter in this recipe – shocking, right? No, not this time around. Instead we want a sweet (but not too sweet, that’s where the 3 milks come in) yellow sponge cake. Don’t worry, this cake still bakes up beautfully like a typical yellow cake but instead we’re relying on the sweetness of 3 milks aannndd coconut. Sweet, yummy coconut.
Incorporating the coconut into this original version couldn’t be easier. You’ll add some of the sweetened coconut flakes in the with dry ingredients and some coconut extract in with the batter before it’s baked. To take it up an extra step, you’ll add a little more coconut extract to the 3 milks before you drench the cake and last (but not least!) you’ll sprinkles coconut flakes over the whipped cream frosting once the cake is complete. You get coconut is every aspect of this cake. It’s in the cake itself, in the 3 milk mixture and on top of the cake. If your cuckoo for coconuts, you’ll love this cake.
In addition to the sweetened coconut flakes on top of the cake, I took a 1/4 cup of coconut flakes and toasted them in a small skillet just until they were lightly toasted. Allow them to cool before you sprinkle them on top of the cake. This etra detail is totally optional but it does add a little extra color & texture to the top of the cake. And of course, it traditional tres leches form, you must, MUST, serve with a sweet cherry on top!
For the Cake
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups sweetened coconut flakes divided
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 whole eggs divided
- 1 cup sugar divided
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons imitation coconut extract
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the frosting
- 2-3 cups heavy cream
- 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 teaspoons imitation coconut extract
- *remaining 2 cups of sweetened coconut flakes from list above to sprinkle over the cake
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray, until thoroughly coated. Measure out 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes and pulse in a food processor until the flakes have a finer, more crumb like consistency.
- In a large bowl combine flour, coconut flakes, baking powder and salt. Give the dry ingredients a whisk and set aside.
- Separate the eggs into 2 smaller bowls, one for egg yolks, one for egg whites.
- Beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar on high speed until the egg yolks are pale yellow. Stir in the milk, vanilla & coconut extract. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the dry ingredients and fold until combined. Make sure to fold slowly and gently.
- Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, then add in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold the egg whites into the batter very gently until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared 9x13 inch baking dish and smooth out the batter.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes (mine as done at 30) and allow to cool for at least an hour.
- Make the 3 milks: combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream & coconut extract into a small bowl or pitcher. After the cake has filled, use a fork to poke several holes throughout the cake. The tiny holes will help the cake absorb all the liquid. Pour the 3 milk mixture all over the cake, until thoroughly drenched and you have used all the liquid. Allow cake to soak for hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator. I like to let the cake sit overnight to really absorb the liquid & flavor!
- Once the cake is ready to serve combine the heavy cream, sugar and coconut extract into a bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture (frosting) is spreadable. Spread over the entire surface of the cake, smoothing out with a spatula. Sprinkle with remaining sweetened coconut flakes and top with cherries. Optional: toast 1/4 of sweetened coconut flakes in a small skillet just until brown. Allow to cool completely and garnish on top of cake.
- Be sure to keep the cake refrigerated while it soaks with the 3 milks. Any leftovers should be refrigerated as well.