If you’re looking to try a new dessert that’s not your usual sweet treat fare, try this recipe for a quick-and-easy Tres Leches cake. Now, we’re not claiming this is good for you (especially if you are lactose intolerant, come to think of it) but this is dessert we’re talking about. If you can’t be a bit decadent around the holidays, when can you?
Before moving to Los Angeles, I’d never had Tres Leches. The cake is of Mexican origin (as you can probably surmise, the name means “Three Milks”), but the first one I tasted came from a Cuban bakery. I’ve read there are Dominican and Nicaraguan versions as well. No matter what its origins, there’s just no way a cake soaked in milk and rum is not going to be delicious. So here’s how to make one.
Easy Tres Leches Cake
For the Cake:

  • 13″ x 9″ Yellow Sheet Cake (use your preferred recipe)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup of rum

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of rum
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

Start with a 13″ x 9″ yellow sheet cake. You can find recipes for this most basic of cakes in any cookbook, or you can make one from a mix if that’s your thing. Whatevs. Anyway, bake the sucker and let it stand for about 5 minutes. During this time you can assemble your cake-soaking ingredients: 1 cup whipping cream (heavy), 1 cup whole milk, 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk, and 1/3 cup of RUM! Mix them all up (but don’t whip the cream), and be sure to scrape along the bowl’s sides, as the condensed milk is sticky/thick.
Set aside your milky mixture for now. Next you’re gonna poke your cake with a fork. I poke it all over in (approximately) 1-inch intervals (you may have to wipe the fork tines occasionally.) Here’s what it should look like:
So pretty! Now go ahead and carefully pour your milk/rum mixture alllllll over the cake. Here’s what that will look like from the side…wowzers!
Now you’re gonna pop the cake in the fridge (covered w/foil) for a good 3-4 hours, or until it’s chilled and most of the milk/rum mixture has been absorbed by the cake. While the cake is chilling out in the fridge, toast yourself 1/2 cup of chopped pecans on a cookie sheet. Then toast up about 1 cup of flaked coconut. (Be sure to watch this stuff as you toast it, it doesn’t take long to get all goldeny-brown and nice.)
When you’re ready to serve the cake, make some whipped cream to spread across the top. I threw 1 cup whipping cream, 2 tablespoons rum, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla into my Kitchen-Aid mixer on high and whipped it until soft peaks appeared. Spread the whipped cream over the cake, sprinkle with the coconut and pecans, cut and enjoy! As you can see, we sure did!