Chocolate Tres Leches Cake
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake is a rich, decadent and moist chocolate cake soaked in three milks and topped with a luscious chocolate whipped cream topping and chocolate shavings. This chocolate version of the classic Mexican dessert is the ultimate cake to serve for any occasion.
Hopefully since you are here, you love chocolate cake! So, let’s add a few more delicious chocolate cake recipes to your repertoire: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, Traditional German Chocolate Cake and my Texas Sheet Cake with Buttermilk. All are very moist and very delicious!
Why This Recipe Works
- Moist chocolate tres leches cake. Thanks to the delicious buttery cake and the three milk mixture poured on top, this chocolate cake is the ultimate moist cake!
- Silky smooth chocolate cream. The cake is topped with a deliciously creamy and light chocolate whipped cream.
- Made with Dutch process cocoa powder AND semi-sweet chocolate. The cake batter is made with dutch process cocoa powder which gives it a richer and deeper chocolate flavor; it’s also made with 2 oz of chocolate. All of this is then bloomed with hot water for the ultimate chocolate cake.
- Unsalted Butter: We use the melted butter to create a delicious buttery flavor and a moist texture to the tres leeches chocolate cake recipe.
- Buttermilk: Be sure to use room temperature buttermilk. You don’t want the buttermilk to be cold or else it won’t incorporate with the melted butter as easily and the butter will start turning solid.
- Flour: Just use regular, all-purpose flour.
- Dutch Process Cocoa Powder: This is different from unsweetened cocoa powder (aka natural baking powder). This is a darker color and deeper cocoa flavor. See my Best Cocoa Powder for Baking for more information.
- Hot Water: The hot water will help to bloom the cocoa powder. Blooming cocoa powder enhances and deepens the chocolate flavor.
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate: You want the chocolate bar to be very finely chopped so that you don’t get any chunks of chocolate that fall to the bottom of the batter while the cake is baking.
- Tres Leches: Tres leches means 3 milks. The three types of milk we are using are evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate milk. I used a protein chocolate milk since that is what I had on hand, but feel free to use whatever brand or type. These are poured onto the chocolate cake and seep into it for a deliciously moist chocolate milk flavor!
- Heavy Cream: The chocolate tres leches cake is covered with a thick and fluffy chocolate whipped cream topping.
- Combine the wet ingredients. To a large bowl add 6 tablespoons melted butter, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup buttermilk, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients. To the bowl add 1 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix until halfway combined.
- Add the hot water and chopped chocolate. Pour in the 1/2 cup hot water and mix until the batter is smooth. Add the 2 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate and stir to combine.
- Pour into a greased pan. Grease an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the chocolate tres leches cake batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake the tres leches chocolate cake. Bake the cake in an oven preheated to 350ºF for 34-38 minutes. The cake is done when the middle is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes to clean. Remove and let cool completely.
- Poke holes in the chocolate cake and pour in the tres leches. Once the cake is cooled, use a fork to poke small holes in the top of the cake. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the cake and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
- Combine the tres leches. To a large liquid measuring cup or a medium sized bowl, add 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, and 1/2 cup chocolate milk. Mix to combine.
- Make the chocolate whipped topping. Once the cake is ready to serve, you can make the chocolate whipped cream topping. Add 2 cups cold heavy cream to a bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add 2/3 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and mix until stiff peaks form.
- Top the chocolate tres leches cake with the chocolate topping. Spread the chocolate whipped topping over the top of the cake. Top with chocolate shavings for decoration if desired. Cut and serve cold. Enjoy!
You definitely want very finely chop the chocolate that you add to the batter. If you have pieces of chocolate that are too big, they will fall to the bottom of the batter and will settle on the bottom of the cake.
Use a fork or a wooden skewer to poke holes in the chocolate cake.
You can chill your stand mixer bowl before making the chocolate whipped cream topping to make things easier to whip up.
Use a cheese grater, vegetable peeler or zester to add chocolate shavings or chocolate curls as a decorative topping.
This cake is perfect to serve at birthday parties, holidays (like Cinco de Mayo) and other special occasions.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
You can make this chocolate tres leches cake recipe ahead of time and store it in the fridge and let the milks soak. Then make the chocolate whipped topping just before serving.
Store leftover cake covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. I like to eat it within 2 days of making it for best results.
I would freeze this cake without the whipped topping. Let cool completely, add the the milks and then wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Then make the chocolate whipped topping just before serving.
Chocolate tres leches cake (or chocolate three milks cake in English) is a chocolate sponge cake soaked in 3 different kinds of milk.
No. Tres leches cake shouldn’t be soggy. It should still hold up once the milk is poured in. The there milks just provide a deliciously moist texture to the cake.
Yes! This is a delicious chocolate twist on the traditional tres leches cake recipe.
You want it to soak for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Yes it does. Due to the milk drizzled on the cake, it will need to be stored in the fridge when not being served.
More Chocolate Cake Recipes
- S’mores Cake
- Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
- Scotcheroo Cake
- Hot Fudge Cake
- Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter - melted
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup buttermilk - room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate - FINELY chopped
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup chocolate milk
- Spray an 8×8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray, set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl whisk the melted butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until halfway combined then pour in the hot water and mix until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the chopped chocolate.
- Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 34-38 minutes or until the middle is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- In a large liquid measuring cup whisk the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate milk.
- When the cake has cooled use a fork’s tines and poke the top of the cake with lots of holes. Pour the 3 milk mixture evenly over the cake. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- When ready to serve make the whipped topping by using a hand mixer to beat the heavy cream until soft peaks, then add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla mix until stiff peaks form. Spread the chocolate whipped cream over the surface of the cake. Garnish with chocolate shavings (if desired), cut and serve cold.