Southern Mom Loves: Caramel Tres Leches Cake!

Caramel Tres Leches Cake!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser The National Milk Life Campaign. All opinions are mine alone. #KnowYourMilk #CollectiveBias

If you've never had a Tres Leches (three milks) cake, you're missing out! It's a rich, sweet, custardy poke cake topped with a homemade vanilla whipped cream, but the addition of a thick caramel drizzle takes it over the top! It may sound complicated to make but I've taken a few shortcuts to make it a breeze for anyone to whip up!

A traditional Tres Leches Cake starts with a homemade cake, but a good cake mix will suffice. I went with a vanilla cake mix base, but a butter cake would be just as delicious.

The three milks in the title refer to the mixture poured over the poked cake base. Sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream are mixed together to give this cake a creamy, custardy texture that will melt in your mouth!

One thing I didn't skimp on was making the homemade whipped cream topping, but instead of using whipping cream, I whipped a stabilized heavy cream and doubled the recipe for a denser, icing-like whipped cream. 

I'll give you the directions, and you can use either whipping or heavy cream, but if making it into a double-thick layer like I did, I would absolutely follow the directions to add in gelatin to stabilize it.

I also drizzled a thick salted caramel sauce (store bought) over the poke cake layer. Does that make this a Quatro Leches?

In my opinion, there's no better drink to have with a slice of cake than a tall glass of milk. Besides complementing the flavors in cake and being super-refreshing, real milk is naturally nutrient-rich. Although milk alternatives like almond or soy milk may seem like a simple swap, it’s important to know that they're not created equal. Real milk beats them all in 5 big areas: nutrition, ingredient list, added sugars, price, and taste.

Milk has nine essential nutrients including B vitamins (riboflavin, B-12 and niacin) for converting your food into energy, high-quality protein for lean muscle, vitamin A for a healthy immune system, potassium to help regulate the balance of fluids, and bone-building nutrients like calcium, Vitamin D, and phosphorus.

Milk has just three ingredients: milk, vitamin A, and vitamin D. When you compare the ingredient list on milk to non-dairy milk alternatives, like almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk, you may be surprised at what you find. Many non-dairy alternatives have 10 or more added ingredients including salt, sugar (listed as cane sugar or cane juice), or thickeners like gums.

When you look at the nutrition label on a gallon of milk, you will find sugar listed, but that sugar is not added, it’s naturally-occurring lactose. There is no added sugar in milk unless you choose a flavored milk.

At just about a quarter per serving, milk delivers more nutritional value per penny than just about any other beverage and the taste can't be imitated. Milk adds dimension, accentuates the flavor, and serves as a base to many of your favorite dishes. Visit MilkLife for more milk content and some fabulously delicious recipes.

Then make this decadent three milks cake!

Caramel Tres Leches Cake
Source: Southern Mom Loves
Serves: 12-16


  • 1 boxed Vanilla or Butter cake mix (+ listed ingredients for making the cake)
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 c. evaporated milk
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 jar of a thick caramel sauce (not a syrup!)
  • 2 tsp. (or 1 packet) unflavored gelatin (like Knox, in the baking aisle)
  • 8 tsp. cold water
  • 2 c. heavy (or whipping) cream
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 10" springform pan (or a 10"x13" pan)
  • parchment paper (optional)


1. Bake your boxed cake according to the package directions. You can make a round cake like I did in a 10" springform pan or make the more traditional cake in a 10"x13" pan and serve it in the pan. In that case, no parchment paper is needed. Follow the cooking time for a bundt cake for both.

2. While it's baking, make the filling by whisking together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream.

3. At the end of your cooking time, insert a toothpick in the middle to check for doneness and while the cake is still hot, use a chopstick or skewer to poke lots of holes through the cake.

4. If piling your whipped cream high on a 10" round cake, fold a long piece of parchment paper in half and wrap around the cake. If making a 10"x13" cake, skip this step.

Pour the filling liquid over the cake and refrigerate for at least an hour or until the cake has soaked it in and is well-cooled.

5. While the cake is soaking, make the stabilized whipped cream. First, place the cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let it sit for about 5 minutes or until congealed, then microwave for about 15 seconds to liquify it.

6. Put the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer) and blend for about a minute, then pour the gelatin in a slow stream into the cream mixture and whip until stiff peaks form.

The whipped cream should be able to hold its shape like an icing would.

7. Remove the cake from the fridge and drizzle the top with caramel.

8. Pile your whipped cream on top and spread evenly. I then placed my cake into the freezer for about 30 minutes to make sure the whipped cream didn't stick to the parchment when I removed it, but it isn't really necessary. :)

9. If making the 10" round cake with parchment, release the springform pan and carefully remove the parchment, then lift the bottom of the pan out of the ring. If you have a cake lifter you can remove the cake from the springform base and place it on a cake plate or just leave it on the springform base and place that on your plate.

10. When ready to serve, drizzle the bare sides with more thick, delicious caramel!

Keep this cake refrigerated. :)

You won't believe how thick and rich this cake becomes after soaking it in 3 decadent milks!

The salted caramel soaks through the poke holes giving it runnels of delicious caramel flavor.

If anything, this cake is even better the next day!


Have you ever has a Tres Leches Cake? Will you be making this one? I love to read your comments!

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