Chocolate Tres Leches Cake is a chocolate twist on the classic Tres Leches Cake that's perfect for chocolate lovers on any special occasion! It's a super moist chocolate cake that's soaked in a chocolate three-milk mixture overnight, with homemade chocolate whipped cream and chocolate curls on top!

For more delicious Mexican desserts, try my Flan de QuesoHomemade Fried Ice Cream, and Homemade Churros.

A slice of chocolate tres leches cake on a plate.


Table of Contents
  1. What is Tres Leches Cake?
  2. Why We Love This Recipe
  3. What You'll Need
  4. How to Make a Chocolate Tres Leches Cake
  5. Recipe FAQ's
  6. Tips for Success
  7. Should this chocolate tres leches cake be wet?
  8. Substitutions and Variations
  9. More Amazing Chocolate Cake Recipes
  10. Chocolate Tres Leches Cake Recipe

What is Tres Leches Cake?

Tres leches means "three milks," so this is really a Chocolate Three Milks Cake! The cake gets its name from having the sponge soaked in a mixture of three types of milk, making it incredibly sweet and moist.

The sponge is made extra fluffy without the use of oil or butter. Instead, it has a mixture of whisked egg whites and sugar folded into the cake batter to make it extra absorbent too so it's moist but not soggy after adding the three milks mixture.

The three types of milk used are evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk, giving the cake a rich, sweet milk flavor. The cake is poked with a fork to make several holes from where the milk mixture can reach the body of the cake, and, ideally, it's soaked overnight.

It's a great chocolate take on a classic Mexican dessert, and as we love Mexican recipes, this is always a hit when I make it to round out our meal of fajitas, enchiladas, or chimichangas!

Perfect for dessert at home or a potluck, we've even made this cake for birthday parties too.

Why We Love This Recipe

  • Use your favorite kind of toppings for this cake, try crushed nuts, mini chocolate chips, or sprinkles!
  • It's easy to make and is best prepped the night before your event, but it makes enough to feed a crowd.
  • Prep this cake the night before for a delicious homemade chocolate treat!

What You'll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Flour - All-purpose flour works best in this cake. 
  • Cocoa Powder - Use natural unsweetened cocoa powder or Dutch Process cocoa powder for a rich chocolate flavor in the cake and for the topping.
  • Leavening Agents - Use baking powder and baking soda to ensure this cake is light and fluffy.
  • Salt - To enhance the flavors, and balance out some of the sweetness.
  • Sugar - White granulated sugar is best for this cake and the topping for the right texture and sweetness.
  • Egg Whites - We'll use whipped egg whites to make the cake extra light and spongy.
  • Vanilla Extract - Use store-bought vanilla, or make your own Homemade Vanilla Extract.
  • Milk - Whole milk works best in the cake and for the milk mixture, but if you only have low-fat milk, it will work too.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk - It's thick, creamy, and sweet, which is perfect for soaking the cake in to make it extra moist.
  • Evaporated milk - Use store-bought evaporated milk to make the cake extra rich.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream - To make fresh whipped cream for the topping!
  • Chocolate - Use semisweet chocolate shavings for the topping.
Ingredients for chocolate tres leches cake.

How to Make a Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

  1. Prep equipment and make the egg white mixture. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prep a 9x13-inch baking dish or large sheet cake pan with baking spray. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and set aside. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat ¾ cup of the sugar with the egg yolks on medium-high until creamy and light. Add the milk and vanilla and beat again, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Add dry ingredients. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, mixing just until combined.
  1. Mix egg whites and sugar. Whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl, gradually adding the remaining ¼ cup of sugar until stiff peaks form.
  2. Add mixture to the batter. Gently fold the mixture into the cake batter.
  1. Pour batter into pan. Pour the chocolate cake batter into the prepared cake pan.
  2. Bake and cool. Bake the cake for 25–30 minutes. Let it cool completely, then poke it all over with a fork, making holes for the milk mixture to soak into.
  1. Whisk the milk mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and milk.
  2. Pour mixture. Pour the chocolate milk mixture over the cooled cake.
  1. Soak cake. Let the cake soak in the mixture for at least 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  2. Add whipped cream topping. Whip the cream, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla, then spread over the cake.
  1. Garnish and serve. Sprinkle the top of the cake with chocolate curls, slice, and serve!
An overhead image of chocolate tres leches cake with shaved chocolate sprinkled on top.

Recipe FAQ's

How long do you soak chocolate tres leches cake?

Chocolate tres leches cake needs at least 3 hours in the fridge to soak up the sweet milk mixture, but if you can give it even longer that's better. It's a great recipe to make ahead and let it soak overnight for 8 hours or more to then serve the next day.

How do I store this chocolate tres leches cake?

Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you're not planning to eat the cake for a day or two, I'd recommend waiting to add the whipped cream until just before serving. If the topping is not fully whipped it may lose volume over time.

Can you freeze chocolate tres leches cake?

This chocolate sponge cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Do this before you soak it in the sweet milk mixture. Cover it twice in plastic wrap, or put it in a freezer-safe container. Thaw it at room temperature for a couple of hours before adding the milk soak and proceed with the topping as instructed.

Tips for Success

  • If you don't have some on hand, you can make your own evaporated milk by simmering 3¼ cups of regular whole milk on the stove over medium-low heat for 25 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until reduced to about 1⅓ cups. Just be careful not to burn it. Evaporated milk concentrates the milk flavors for a rich taste with less liquid volume.
  • We are adding volume to the batter through the beaten egg whites, so stirring too vigorously will knock out a lot of the air you worked into it. Gently folding in the egg whites is key to making this cake light and fluffy.
  • Don't overthink poking the holes into the cake - it's okay to go to town with it! The holes on top of the cake are there so that the three-milk mixture can really soak down into it. Kids love this job and are happy to help with this bit!

Should this chocolate tres leches cake be wet?

This cake is fairly wet because it is soaked in the three different kinds of milk, but I wouldn't consider it as being soggy. There definitely shouldn't be any dry patches of cake because there is enough liquid to soak through the whole thing.

Once the cake has absorbed all of the liquid, you should be able to cut slices and serve it without the cake disintegrating. When you cut into the cake to eat it, you will see some of the liquid form a small puddle around your fork, but this is normal.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Use a different topping. Try my Chocolate Buttercream Frosting for a buttery topping, or my German Chocolate Cake Frosting for an added nutty, textured topping! You can even use my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting for a milder chocolate flavor overall.
  • Add nuts or chocolate chips. Add some crushed nuts to the top! Try crushed peanuts, pecans, or walnuts. Alternatively, use white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, or semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of chocolate curls for the topping.
  • Make Chocolate Tres Leches Cupcakes. You can turn this cake into about 24 cupcakes by baking the batter in cupcake cases at 350°F for 15 minutes. Then poke the cupcakes with a fork and fill them with the milk mixture just like you would the cake and top them with whipped cream.

More Amazing Chocolate Cake Recipes

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

Stay in the know

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

5 from 5 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Soaking Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 12 servings
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake is a chocolate twist on the classic Tres Leches Cake that's perfect for chocolate lovers on any special occasion! It's a super moist chocolate cake that's soaked in a chocolate three-milk mixture overnight, with homemade chocolate whipped cream and chocolate curls on top!

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125g)
  • ½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder or Dutch processed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided (200g)
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk

Tres Leches

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Topping

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces shaved semisweet chocolate, for topping

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prep a 9x13-inch baking dish with baking spray. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and set aside.
  • In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat ¾ cup of the sugar with the egg yolks on medium-high until creamy and light. Add the milk and vanilla and beat again, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, mixing just until combined.
  • Whisk the eggs whites, gradually adding the remaining ¼ cup of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cake batter.
  • Pour into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely, then poke all over with a fork.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and milk. Pour over the cooled cake. Let soak for at least 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  • Whip the cream, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla, then spread over the cake. Sprinkle with semi-sweet chocolate curls, slice, and serve.

Notes

Storage
  • Store: Store this cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you're not planning to eat the cake for a day or two, I'd recommend waiting to add the whipped cream until just before serving. If the topping is not fully whipped it may lose volume over time.
  • Freeze: This chocolate sponge cake can be frozen for up to 3 months before you soak it in the sweet milk mixture. To do this, cover it twice in plastic wrap, or put it in a freezer-safe container. Thaw it at room temperature for a couple of hours before adding the milk soak and proceed with the topping as instructed.

Nutrition

Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 177mg | Potassium: 247mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 720IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Do you put coca powder in the milk solution? ( tres leches ) it’s says in the ingredients but not in the directions?

    1. Yes, sorry. You will add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in the milk solution. I have it written in the recipe post, I just accidently left it out on the recipe card. Thanks for catching that!