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Chocolate tres leches cake with dulce de leche frosting

This mouthwatering delicious chocolate tres leches cake is topped with a creamy dulce de leche mascarpone frosting, toasted coconut, and chocolate shavings.

Tres leches chocolate cake with caramel frosting

En Español

It’s one of those indulgent and irresistible desserts that you have to save room for – even if the meal preceding it is just as amazing. A tres leches or three milks cake, from the traditional and classic vanilla option to this chocolate variation, is very easy to make. You just need to plan ahead to make sure you have time to let it rest and soak up the three milks mix.

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Chocolate tres leches cake recipe

I used my mom’s simple chocolate cake recipe as the base for this tres leches cake, mainly because it’s really easy to make. I would say that you can use a store bought chocolate cake mix if you didn’t have much time, but to be honest it will take about the same time to make this basic chocolate cake recipe – and it will taste better than the box. The dulce de leche mascarpone frosting is so good and definitely adds to the “indulgent” aspect of this dessert.

Chocolate tres leches cake with dulce de leche frosting
Chocolate tres leches cake recipe

Chocolate tres leches cake with dulce de leche frosting

Delicious chocolate tres leches cake topped with a creamy dulce de leche frosting and toasted coconut.
4.83 from 363 votes
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Latin American, Latin fusion
Keyword: Cake, Chocolate, Chocolate cake, Tres leches
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Refrigeration time: 1 day
Servings: 1 large 9X13 cake or 2 9-inch round cakes


For the chocolate cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 10 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons of melted butter – can replace with oil
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups water lukewarm

For the tres leches or three milks combination:

  • 14 oz condensed milk
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 2 cups of heavy cream – you can also use 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of milk
  • 4 tablespoons 2 ounces of rum – adjust to taste or replace with 1-2 teaspoons of imitation rum extract or vanilla extract if desired

For the dulce de leche or caramel frosting:

  • 8 oz of mascarpone
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 6 oz dulce de leche add more to taste


  • Toasted coconut
  • Chocolate shavings


For the chocolate cake:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F (175C) and lightly grease/flour a 9-inch round cake mold.
  • Sift the flour in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Use a mixing spoon to stir in the sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Mix in the salt and baking soda.
  • Make three holes: a large one for the melted butter or oil, and a couple of smaller ones for the vinegar and the vanilla.
  • Add the water and continue mixing with the spoon until you have a smooth batter.
  • Pour the cake batter into the baking mold and bake at 350 for ~45 minutes for a 9X13 cake (~30 minutes for a smaller round cake) or until you stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool down.

For the tres leches:

  • Combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream/milk with the rum in bowl. Stir until mixed and taste.
  • Leave the cake in the baking mold and use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake.
  • Gently and slowly pour the three milks mix over the cake. I find it best to pour a little bit over, then let it absorb, then pour some more, and so on.
  • Let the cake rest in the refrigerator overnight – 24 hours is ideal. If using a springform mold I recommend placing it on top of large flat bowl or platter, just in case any of the liquid leaks out (none or very little will leak with the mold is very tight).

For the dulce de leche frosting:

  • Mix the mascarpone with the dulce de leche until you have a smooth mix.
  • Use an electric mixer or a whisk to whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks start to form. Use a mixing spoon to fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone dulce de leche mix.
  • You can leave the cake in the mold, or if you used a springform mold you can gently place the cake on a large platter (some of three milk liquid will still leak out when you remove the sides of the mold)
  • Use a spatula or icing spreader to spread the frosting over the cake – on top and on the sides if removed from the baking mold.
  • Add the toasted coconut and chocolate shavings on top of the frosting.
  • Chill the cake for an hour before serving and keep refrigerated.
Chocolate tres leches cake
Chocolate tres leches cake with dulce de leche and coconut

Chocolate tres leches cake

Step by step preparation photos for chocolate tres leches cake with dulce de leche frosting

For the chocolate cake:
Mix the sifted flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda Make 3 holes in the flour mix, a larger one for the melted butter and smaller ones for the vanilla and vinegar

Add the lukewarm water and mix well
Pour the cake batter into a lightly greased pan and bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes

For the tres leches:

Poke several holes in the cake using a skewer
Mix the condensed milk with the evaporated milk, the cream, and the rum
Pour the three milks mix over the cake and let it refrigerate overnight
If using a springform mold, place the cake in a large bowl or platter to avoid leaks

For the dulce de leche frosting:

Mascarpone and dulce de leche for the frosting
Mix the mascarpone cream cheese and the dulce de leche together with a mixing spoon
Use a mixing spoon to fold in the whipped cream
Gently mix in the cream
Spread the frosting on the cake - just on top if leaving the cake in the baking pan
Add the toasted coconut and chocolate shavings on top of the frosting
Tres leches cake with dulce de leche frosting and toasted coconut

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    1. You can use white vinegar or any other fruit vinegar (banana, pineapple, etc) , or you can also use lemon or lime juice – but double the amount. You need the acidity to help activate the baking soda.

  1. Hi Layla,
    I absolutely love your recipe. Made it twice so far and everybody loved it!!
    Going to make it for a Christmas party soon.
    do you transfer the cake from a round 9 inch pan to a different plate and then pour the milks??

    I have made it in a 9 by 13 pan. Going to try the round pan this time.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Shailu – I used a round springform baking pan, I add the milks while it was still in the round pan (but placed it in a shallow bowl because the springform pan leaks a little) and left it overnight. The following day I removed the sides of the round pan, but left the cake on the base of the mold, and then added the frosting. Hope that helps.

  2. Am I missing something, or are there no eggs in this cake?

    No, you are correct – this cake doesn’t use eggs.

  3. Hello! We have just returned from Ecuador where we very much enjoyed the food. I am keen to re-create some of these dishes at home (UK).
    One dessert I much enjoyed was called simply “Tres Leches” and was described as “three milks: cows milk, goat milk, …” and another my Spanish couldn’t catch (or were they joking?). It was white/vanilla coloured cake plus a white topping.
    Do you have a recipe for this? It seems a bit different from the chocolate cake you describe here (which also sounds great).
    Thanks for this wonderful site. Please let me know when you publish your book!
    With all good wishes from London.

    Hi Jane – In general a “tres leches” is made with a sponge style cake, then you poke holes into it and add the mix of 3 milks. You could replace the chocolate cake with a basic vanilla sponge cake for the classic variation. The most common 3 milks combination mix is evaporated milk (cow’s milk), condensed milk, and cream (liquid) or a mix of cream and regular milk. I’ve had variations that add goat milk (usually calling it a 4 milk or cuatro leches), or versions that use coconut milk or almond milk, etc.
    The frosting also varies, the more classic frosting would be a meringue frosting, but some also like to serve it with whipped cream.

  4. I made the chocolate dulce de leche cake today and it was delicious!! Super moist and chocolaty! Many thanks I will make it again for sure!!

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