This cake. Oh, this cake. It was born out of an obsession that has lasted years, really. After the magic that was (and is) this coconut tres leches cake, I have been trying to decide if it was worth going down the road I wanted to travel: a chocolate version. I knew it could end badly (read: soggy, washed out cake and dull chocolate flavor) so I tested and tested and tested.
And this is it, baby. The most glorious confection to pass my lips. This week. But still! It’s awesome. Instead of being soggy, the thick, decadent chocolate syrup melds this cake into a dense, rich pudding-like consistency. Lightened with the sweetened whipped cream, and I’m not kidding you, I was sneaking into the fridge all hours of the night to get just.one.last.taste. Just to help you gain perspective on that statement – not eating after dinner is one of my hard fast rules that I hardly ever break (my only way to justify all the calorie intake during the day!) and this chocolate tres leches cake proved to be my undoing. I know it has to be out of this world when I’m willing to sacrifice after-dinner calories (and guilt) to have another bite.
Seriously. Just make it. Please. Like, run to your kitchen now and start. I don’t care if you have a life and a job and responsibilities and for real important things to do. Find a way. You won’t regret it.
Note: I used one of my favorite (easy and egg-free) chocolate cakes for this recipe. But you could really use any 9X13-inch chocolate cake recipe, in fact, the beauty of this recipe is that because of the chocolate milk mixture poured on top of the cake, the cake part is especially forgiving (overbaked a little? No problem.). By the way, this cake can (and should) be made in advance - up to 24 hours. Sweet!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups water
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1/3 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
- Sweetened whipped cream
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- For the cake, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9X13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in the baking pan.
- Make 1 large and 2 small craters in dry ingredients. Add oil to large crater and vinegar and vanilla separately to remaining small craters. Pour water into pan and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain. Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan if it isn’t level after mixing. Immediately put pan in oven.
- Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 23-25 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack until cooled completely.
- Using a bamboo skewer or tines of a fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake. In a glass liquid measure or a microwave-safe bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and the chocolate. Microwave for one minute and stir. If not completely melted and smooth, microwave for an additional 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Whisk in the evaporated milk and heavy cream (or half-and-half). The mixture will start out very, very thick. Don't worry! It will thin out as you whisk in the other milks.
- Slowly pour or ladle spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture over the top of the cake. Let the liquid absorb before adding more. Ladle the liquid onto the cake until all the chocolate mixture has been used. It's ok if there is excess liquid pooled on top of the cake, it should absorb into the cake while it is refrigerated.
- Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Serve pieces of the cake with sweetened whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.