Caramel Coconut Tres Leches Cake


I couldn’t possibly let Cinco de Mayo come without one more luscious and festive dessert. I just can’t get enough of the flavors that this holiday brings and this recipe is top notch. I’ve made classic Tres Leches before, but this is like a whole different league. Coconut and creamy Dulce de Leche seem to be the perfect additions to a cake that is already pretty amazing. 


A dense sponge cake is soaked with a mixture of creamy coconut milk, dulce de leche, milk and rum. Fresh whipped cream is piled on top and then drizzled with more dulce de leche and toasted coconut. I made a point of really just making a mess of the toppings, going for the “rustic” look with dulce de leche oozing down the sides of the cake and I loved the way it turned out. The base cake is really sturdy, holding up well even with all the liquid poured into it and toppings piled on top.


The basic sponge cake isn’t difficult and I actually love the “soaking” step, finding it somehow therapeutic to pour the liquid onto the cake and watch it all absorb. You can really adapt this recipe to your liking using different “milks” that you have on hand, but I really love the mixture I used. The rum added a fun kick and the coconut milk and dulce de leche made each bite really full of flavor. This cake lasts well for a few days in the fridge, so assuming I can control myself today, I should be able to have another slice come Cinco de Mayo! :)

Caramel Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Caramel Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Yield: 1 8-9 inch cake


For the Cake:

  • 4 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Soak:

  • 1 16 oz can of coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup dulce de leche, or caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon rum

For the Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  • dulce de leche for drizzling


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter the inside and sides of a 8 or 9 inch round cake pan* and line with a parchment round. Sprinkle with flour- set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  3. In a very clean stand mixer bowl or a large mixing bowl, Beat egg whites on medium high using a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar while the mixer runs and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  4. Pile about one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Gently fold them together until smooth. Add half of the flour and continue to gently fold, being careful to not deflate the egg whites. Repeat with another third of egg whites, the rest of the flour, and the last third of whites. Do not over-mix, but batter should be smooth, airy and fluffy.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. Run a knife around the edge of the cake pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment, then flip the cake right side up so it can cool.
  7. While the cake is baking, combine the soak ingredients in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
  8. After the cake has cooled for about 15 minutes, use a fork to prick it all over, not forgetting the sides, edges and all over the top. Try to get pretty close to the bottom of the cake.
  9. Use a spoon or pour the soaking liquid over the cake, a little at a time, waiting for it to absorb before adding more. I would use the spoon and gently press the liquid into the cake** It may seem like a lot of liquid, but use as much as you can to soak the cake.
  10. Chill the cake in the fridge for an hour (or more) to really let the flavors soak and set.
  11. Meanwhile whip the cream and once the cake is done chilling, dollop on the whipped cream, drizzle with extra dulce de leche and sprinkle on the toasted coconut.
  12. Store in the fridge until you're ready to serve.


I actually used a 7 inch Springform pan this time around but I think an 8 or 9 inch pan works the best. The thicker the cake the harder it is to really get those liquids to soak. Any of those options are fine, or you could double the recipe and use a 9x13. **I actulally used one of those syringes for giving Hugo medicine for this step. (Clean of course.) I would pull up the liquid and then literally "inject" it into the sides and top of the cake. It worked surprisingly well! Base recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Loving how you combined Tres Leches cake with caramel and coconut. What an awesome combination!

  2. OK beat WHAT?
    In a very clean stand mixer bowl or a large mixing bowl, Beat on medium high using a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar while the mixer runs and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

    1. Ahhh thank you…I kept reading it over and over…but didn’t read farther down…

      I can’t wait to make this!!

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