Food I make: Coconut Tres Leche Cake

Coconut Tres Leche Cake

There are 4 things to assemble:


Coconut filling

Milk pour-over

Whipped topping


Any Hot Milk Sponge cake recipe – substitute coconut milk for regular milk in the recipe- I make mine from the Joy of Cooking. Be aware that most recipes call for you to bake it in a large pan for rolling or stacking. You can either do that, or you can put it in a smaller pan (I used a round 9″) and cut it in layers. Either stacking or cutting is fine. The point is to have two layers that are relatively level.

Coconut filling:

Dried sweet coconut (NOT sweetened) from Philippines or Malaysia soaked in just enough coconut milk to be paste-like + powdered sugar to taste – chill until needed

Milk pour-over:

Sweetened condensed mlk – whole can

Evaporated COCONUT milk – ¾ can

Regular coconut milk – 1cup

Mix all together. Save for cake.

Whipped topping:

EQUAL PARTS Heavy whipping cream +  Coconut cream (let 1 can of  coconut milk sit undisturbed in fridge overnight then open can and scoop out cream). Soften coconut cream and whip by hand (very quicky) in separate bowl, whip dairy cream. Then add powdered sugar until very soft peaks form then add coconut cream, add powdered sugar to taste. whip until nearly stiff.


Cover serving plate in aluminum foil. Make sure there is enough foil on sides to reach up to top of cake.  Once cake is cooled, level top by slicing horizontally, just the higher parts. Slice whole cake horizontally into two layers. Set top layer upside down – hard top on bottom, spongey cut side facing up – on serving plate.

Pour half the milk overpour onto bottom layer slowly and carefully. Use aluminum foil to make sure sides of layer is saturated with milk overpour. Once layer is saturated (should not be able to soak up any more overpour) spoon coconut filling onto lower layer. Even out using rubber spatula (cake is easily torn so be gentle) to edge of layer.

Carefully place other layer on top of filled layer. Using a fine-tine fork, pierce top layer of cake repeatedly to make holes that go to or past filling. Use skewer, use clean comb, whatever. Make lots of small holes. 

Pour other half of milk mixture slowly onto top layer of cake. Pull aluminum foil up sides to catch the run-off and hold it in place. You should have a sort of cake bowl of foil holding milk mixture. Fold aluminum towards sides of cake to ensure milk mixture covers cake sides.

Chill cake for at least 4 hours. After removing, pull foil down and allow to run off into sink. Be very careful not to tilt cake over sink too much. You will cry if you drop the cake into the sink. I use a small cake spatula to sort of scrape the run-off around and off the edge of the cake. Cut foil around cake to remove it.

Spread whipped topping on cake – top and sides. Garnish with fruit – we like strawberries – or coconut shavings.

When you cut slices, be sure to cut them very small. This cake is super-rich and super-sweet. A little goes a long way.