baking · Dessert · Mexican

Piña Colada Tres Leches Cake

Rob and I held our first dinner party as a married couple last weekend for Cinco de Mayo.

I was up early that Saturday (which is normal) and prepared for our meal: a taco bar with my delicious honey-lime poblano chicken tacos and regular beef. All of the fixings were pre-cut that morning: lettuce, tomato, cilantro. Cheese was shredded (I used bag cheese, hah!) and limes were cut.

Rob picked up four (!!) different types of salsa and the biggest bag of our favorite grocery-store tortilla chips: On the Border. I don’t like the actual restaurant, but those chips y’all…those chips. For another side, I thought of the most brilliant idea: a corn in a cup station!

I didn’t actually make the corn, and instead opted for two bags of frozen Mexican street corn from Trader Joe’s. If you haven’t tried it, you really should. It’s SO GOOD. A bottle of Tajin, cotija cheese, limes and mayonnaise were set out for folks to make their corn exactly how they liked it.

We had our good friend Jordann and Ben over and the food was a smash hit! They also brought their Nintendo Switch and we played Mario Kart—now I’ve got to get me one, even though I royally sucked at the game (typical). It was so much fun, and Rob and I ate taco leftovers for basically the next week.

For dessert, I made my first ever tres leches cake. Being from Texas, I’ve always been obsessed with the supremely moist, dense, lovely Mexican cake. Making it was slightly time consuming, but I made sure to make the base cake the night before, so all I had to do on Saturday was whip up some whipped cream and toast some coconut for the top.

Oh yeah—this wasn’t your normal tres leches cake. It was a piña colada version! I was hooked at first bite. All the ingredients worked so well together! It was everything I imagined in a great tres leches cake.

Don’t know what tres leches is? Don’t worry. I’ll break it down for you. Tres leches cake is a dense sponge cake base that is soaked in three different types of milk (hence the name). I used coconut milk (not traditional), sweetened condensed milk (drool), and evaporate milk (also known as PET milk). When you pour it on top of the cooled cake that is poked with holes, it fills the pan. After refrigerating for a few hours or overnight, the cake soaks up all that milky goodness.

You’d think by using sweetened condensed milk that this cake would be overpoweringly sweet, but it really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong—it is a sweet cake. But it’s not the hurt-your-teeth variety.

Next time you’re at a Mexican food restaurant, forego that soapapilla and opt for the tres leches cake. You won’t be disappointed! Then, if you’re feeling frisky, make my version with toasted coconut, pineapple, and marschino cherries. Yummmm.

Piña Colada Tres Leches Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

A moist, Mexican classic dessert topped with pineapple, toasted coconut, and homemade whipped cream.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBS. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped

For the tres leches:

  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut or raw coconut chips
  • Maraschino cherries, drained, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large 13×9″ baking dish. In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the egg yolks on high speed until pale yellow and thick and the mixture falls in ribbons when you lift the whisk attachment, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and vanilla extract. Gently fold in the flour mixture in three different additions. Transfer to a large bowl and whipe out mixer bowl.
  4. Beat egg whites on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold in egg white mixture into the rest of the batter in three additions again. Fold in chopped pineapple.
  5. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake until cake is golden brown and center bounces back when you touch it, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely.
  6. Make the tres leches mixture: In a large bowl, stir together coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Add vanilla.
  7. Poke holes all over in cooled cake. Pour the tres leches mixture over cake making sure to cover it all. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  8. Make the topping: Whip the cream in an electric mixture until it starts to get thick. Add sugar and vanilla and whip until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream on top of cake. Top with toasted coconut (place coconut on a baking sheet and broil until browned), remaining pineapple, and cherries.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large 13×9″ baking dish. In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the egg yolks on high speed until pale yellow and thick and the mixture falls in ribbons when you lift the whisk attachment, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and vanilla extract. Gently fold in the flour mixture in three different additions. Transfer to a large bowl and whipe out mixer bowl.

Beat egg whites on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold in egg white mixture into the rest of the batter in three additions again. Fold in chopped pineapple.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish.

Bake until cake is golden brown and center bounces back when you touch it, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

Make the tres leches mixture: In a large bowl, stir together coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Add vanilla. Poke holes all over in cooled cake.

Pour the tres leches mixture over cake making sure to cover it all. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Make the topping: Whip the cream in an electric mixture until it starts to get thick. Add sugar and vanilla and whip until soft peaks form.

Spread whipped cream on top of cake. Top with toasted coconut (place coconut on a baking sheet and broil until browned), remaining pineapple, and cherries.

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