Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Every week when it is time to sample a recipe, the Produce staff are always excited to find out what I will be sampling (my demo table is between the Bulk and Produce departments). Last week as I was setting up my hummus demo, they asked what was on the menu for the day, and I hear the Produce manager holler from the prep area “candy bars?!?” Hummus is in no way a candy bar (I think somebody was craving a sugary treat that day!), but based on her enthusiastic “suggestion” that was what I had planned on preparing and sampling this week.

Thursday came around, and I went to check the shelf stock on the ingredients I would need, and guess what? One of the main ingredients was out of stock! All of a sudden, I had no demo for the next day and I had to think fast. Thank goodness I had done a little recipe recon earlier in the week, and I ran across a gluten-free blogger that I hadn’t checked out before. It was the name of the blog that got me “Hey, that tastes good! or how I learned that gluten-free doesn’t mean taste-free“. Connecticut blogger Jill has some fantastic recipes, and it is on her blog that I found what would prove to be a delicious substitute for the candy bars I had planned to make (don’t worry, I’ll still make them around Valentine’s day) – Chocolate Tres Leches cake.

For those of you that haven’t had Tres Leches cake, it is a sponge or butter cake that is soaked in three kinds of milk – cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk – that originates from Latin America and is best served chilled. It is a delicious cake that isn’t soggy like you would think, and I was even more excited to find a chocolate version on Jill’s blog. Customers absolutely loved the cake – it is a great one to serve if you have a gluten and/or egg intolerance, because no one will know that it isn’t a “regular” cake!

I used the Swan Bakery’s GF Vegan Chocolate Cake mix in the recipe, because I had experience soaking it with berry sauce when I made the vegan Fluffy Berry Cake last year. You can use just about any chocolate cake recipe (GF or wheat) in this recipe, just be sure that it isn’t a dense cake or it won’t soak up enough of the milk mixture and will become soggy. I used the fairly traded organic chocolate chips and cocoa that we have in the bulk department, and the cake turned out fantastic. In the original recipe, Jill uses regular sugar in her whipping cream, but I usually use powdered sugar; you are welcome to use whatever is your favorite method for making whipping cream. Be sure to use at least a little sugar though – you will be adding cocoa powder to the cream and if you don’t add any sugar at all it could come out a little bitter and/or blander tasting overall.

As I mentioned before, Tres Leches cake is best when allowed to soak up the milk overnight, so this is a great cake to make when you know you have guests coming over the next day. If you use a cake mix, there is really very little hands-on time that you spend in the kitchen making this cake, and it tastes like you slaved for hours!


photo chocolate tres leches cake

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake © 2011 Sassy Sampler


adapted from Hey, That Tastes Good


  • 1 package Swan Bakery Chocolate Cake mix (GF or wheat variety, or any airy chocolate cake recipe), plus related ingredients

For the Swan Bakery GF cake mix (you may need to adapt this depending on what chocolate cake mix you use):

  • 2 c water or soy milk
  • 1 c grape seed/canola oil
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar

Tres Leches Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 oz chocolate chips (about 1/3 c)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T powdered sugar
  • 2 T cocoa powder


  1. Prepare cake according to the instructions. Once it’s cooled, poke holes all over the top with a fork. Don’t worry if it is messy, the top of the cake is going to be covered with whipped cream anyway!
  2. Combine the condensed milk and the chocolate chips in a small saucepan and heat on the stove just long enough to melt the chocolate chips. Don’t boil or simmer the milk. You can also place them in a microwave safe bowl and heat them for a minute or two to melt the chocolate.
  3. Pour the chocolaty milk into a bowl and add the evaporated milk and 1/4 c of the heavy cream.
  4. Slowly pour about 1 1/2—2 cups of the mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (overnight in the fridge is best for flavor).
  5. You will have some chocolate milk mixture left over. I recommend making a mocha with it…I did—it tasted like a liquid truffle.
  6. To make the whipped cream, combine the rest of the cream with the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and whip until it is thick.Spread over the top of the cake and refrigerate again until ready to serve.
  7. Store cake in the fridge.  Best when consumed within a couple of days.

Gluten-free Chocolate Tres Leches Cake PDF