Coconut Tres Leches Cake
Dare to take yellow cake up a notch? This coconut tres leches cake transforms ordinary yellow cake into something positively decadent.
Every dish that I make (and that subsequently appears on this here blog) is tried and tested by my toughest critic and ally: my husband, Brian. He is very, very honest in his reviews, which is a good thing but he isn’t necessarily eloquent in his replies. It usually comes down to:
a) not good (which translates into please don’t make it again…ever…again)
b) fairly decent (which means he’d eat it again in a pinch but it’s definitely not blog-worthy)
c) seriously awesome (which is food-talk for seriously awesome and the recipe is given the thumbs up to appear here)
When it came to this coconut tres leches cake (made with the ingenious make-ahead yellow cake mix), I didn’t even have time to ask Brian what he thought because he seriously took one bite, looked at me and said, “Wow, this is seriously awesome.” And then, this is where I knew it really was seriously awesome, he went on to say, “Best.Dessert.Ever.” And followed-up with a resounding, “I could eat this every day for the rest of my life.”
From the man of few words, this was shocking.
And so I must say to you: this dessert is seriously awesome. Best.Dessert.Ever. Make it every day for the rest of your life.
The cake is soaked in a coconut cream milk mixture that transforms this ordinary yellow cake into something positively decadent. Before you get worried about the soggy factor – listen up. I hate soggy foods. Oh, I loathe them.
This cake, after chilling, turns more into a creamy, silky, cake-like pudding. It is velvety, sweet goodness that is absolutely irresistible.
I must implore you to serve the cake with sliced bananas – the simple flavor of the bananas compliments the sweet cake in a way no other fruit could do.
Seriously awesome, people.
Coconut Tres Leches Cake
- Make-ahead Yellow Cake Mix, or other preferred cake mix or homemade yellow cake recipe
- 1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 medium ripe bananas
- Sweetened cream, see instructions below
- 1 cup toasted sweetened flaked coconut, (spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it at 350 degrees until golden brown, 7 minutes, or toast it in a skillet over medium-low heat on the stovetop)
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly spray a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set the baking dish aside. Place the make-ahead cake mix, 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 large room-temperature eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes (if using another cake mix or recipe, bake according to box or recipe instructions).
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and is slightly pulling away from the edges, 30-34 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely, 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: in a blender, combine the cream of coconut, evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla and process until smooth.
- Pierce the cooled cake all over the top with the tines of a fork or a thin wooden skewer. We are talking all over! The more pokes, the more the syrup will soak into the cake. Using a large spoon or ladle, spoon some of the milk syrup over the cake. Let the syrup soak into the cake, then continue spooning the syrup on top until all of it has been used up. When you have finished, not all of the syrup will be completely absorbed and might be pooling on the top but that’s ok because it will absorb as it refrigerates.
- Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until all of the syrup is absorbed, 2 hours. Cut the bananas, if using crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Slice the cake and serve it with sliced bananas, sweetened cream and toasted coconut, if desired.
- For the sweetened cream, pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream into a large (preferably chilled) glass bowl and beat it on high speed until thickened 1 ½ minutes. Stop the machine and add ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Makes 2 cups.
Recipe Source: adapted from The Dinner Doctor
136 Comments on “Coconut Tres Leches Cake”
I made this New Year’s Eve using a gluten free yellow cake mix, as some of my guests have celiac. It was sooo good. Letting it cool completely and poking a zillion holes, then being incredibly patient all helped this to be my very favorite dessert!! Everyone marveled it wasn’t a soggy cake. Would love to try a chocolate version next, with the coconut. yummm
Made this according recipe except, I beat the egg white to soft peaks. Folded into mixed cake batter, gave it a nice airy lift which absorbed all the liquid. Delicious cake recipe!
So thrilled to find this. My grandmother and mother made this and I’m 74 so it is an OLD recipe. When my mother died I discovered that she made it so often by heart that she didn’t write down the recipe. Can’t wait to surprise my kids and grandkids since I’ve been whining about not having the recipe for years. We will still call it what my mother always called it – “soggy coconut cake.”
Hi. So a good latino friend of my loves this cake and wants me to make it for him. He like the combo of strawberry and coconut. Planning on doing a 4 layer cake. Any suggestions how I can achieve thus to make it work and will it hold up with the weight of all without crushing the bottom layer.
Hi Jeremie – unfortunately, this cake is so soft due to the added liquid that it doesn’t make a sturdy layer cake.
Hi, I’m planning to make this this weekend. I’m just wondering if this recipe calls for the full amount of the homemade yellow cake mix? So looking forward to making this cake.
Thanks in advance for your reply.
Yes, it calls for the full amount.
Thanks for the reply, Mel. looking forward to making this cake this weekend.
For those of you who are having trouble finding cream of coconut, I substituted sweetened condensed milk with some coconut extract. It tasted great!
Same! I used condensed milk and almond extract that so had on hand. Best cake I’ve had in well over 15 years!!!!
I found your recipe last night in a pinch for a last minute dessert for a staff luncheon. We made the cake as cupcakes first, then soaked them. Well, let’s just say “I heard” they were fantastic. There weren’t any left for me to try after I broke down the event. Unfortunately, when you’re catering, you’re the last one to eat…if there is anything left. Will definitely make again.
Hi Mel! I have the make-ahead yellow cake baking in my oven and the milk syrup is combined and in the fridge in a quart jar. I wanted to let you know I found cream of coconut in my tiny grocery store in the drink-mixer section by all the flavors for cocktails (I think that’s what they’re all for, I don’t know). It was in an upside down white squeeze bottle, though I have seen it in cans. Anyway, just thought it might help others with only smaller grocery stores available. Thanks again for the delicious cake recipe!!
I haven’t made this myself, yet, but my friend did and yes…it is seriously awesome! I echo the author – I, too, hate soggy….but this is fantastic and even better a day or 2 later – the flavors just keep blending and getting deeper. My husband hasn’t liked coconut…he thinks this is amazing!
Hi Mel – I am so excited to make this! I am thinking about the presentation. Do you think that after the cake bakes and cools I could invert the 13×9 pan on a wire rack so it comes out of the pan and then in turn use the wire rack to invert it back onto a pretty platter? Then poke the holes in the cake and add the milk mixture? Or do you think it’s necessary that it stay in the 13×9 pan to contain the milk? Maybe poke the holes and add the milk while it’s still inverted on the metal rack before I flip it back over and put it on a platter?
Hey Erin – great questions. For a tres leches to perfectly “tres leches-y” the cake needs to be well soaked with the milk mixture which means it really needs to stay in the pan in order to fully soak in the milk mixture AND to keep it’s shape (not fall apart). I don’t think it will be flippable after the milk mixture has soaked in – that could be a bit of a disaster.
Actually! We used to make something very similar in a shop I used to work at. When you bake, line your pan very well with parchment (we would grease the whole pan with butter and use a circle at the bottom and a strip around the entire side). Once it’s baked, poke it full of holes and soak, then leave in the fridge overnight, for a day etc. Then, gently warm (we’d use a pilot light for just a few minutes, though maybe just a minute in a very low temp oven) until the pan wasn’t *cold* to the touch (just warm). Pull up on the strips on the side to get them out, then set your platter or cake circle on top of the pan, then invert! Carefully peel off the circle on the bottom, and you’re ready to go
How far in advance can you make this cake ? Of course I would leave it covered in fridge and probably add the whipped layer and toasted coconut a couple hours before serving. Wondering if I can make it up to 36 hous before ?
Yes, I think you can make it that far in advance!
Daughter took this her Spanish class Fiesta day and it was a hit. Made another one just for us. Soooo good!
Cream OF Coconut”- has sugar added, ie. Lopez brand- and found in alcohol drink mixer area. Super thick & sweet- great for pina coladas.
“”Coconut Cream” in the can at Trader JOES IS VERY THICK WITH NO SUGAR ADDED.
And then there’s sweetened condemed milk (vs evaporated milk)
Bakers- choose your weapon.
After looking at recipe and reading reviews, I used the TJ’s because I had it on hand. In frig now- looks great- I will use my Executive Power and make whipped cream topping a bit sweeter- to taste, since only sweetness is coming from cake mix.
All-in-all- great recipe..w room for individual tastes regarding sweetness- the idea is luscious luscious luscious. Mel, you have good taste.
I used a box cake mix and flambéd the bananas with rum and placed them to the side of the cake. Heaven on a plate. Recipe is a keeper.
Okay actually, I think I’m going to make a couple of your sheet cakes for this party instead. 🙂 I was feeling too nervous about experimenting, and I know your sheet cakes are also delish! 🙂
Ok, good luck!
I am making dessert for a big crowd for a Super Bowl party on Sunday, and am thinking about making this cake! Have you ever doubled this in a cookie sheet? Or do you think the cake would be too tall for the shallow sides of a cookie sheet? Or what if I tripled the recipe but put it into two cookie sheets? Hmm.
Anyway, I have made this before, years ago, and it was amazing! I had too much milk mixture like a few others, so thought I might chime in on why I think that was! Is the cream of coconut supposed to be measured in fluid ounces or weight ounces? I used fluid ounces (the only way I could find cream of coconut was in a big squeeze bottle, not a can), and then I realized maybe I was supposed to measure it by weight. For example, a 14 oz can of condensed milk is about a cup, whereas 15 fluid ounces of condensed milk would be almost 2 cups. Am I even making sense? Whose idea wasn’t it to use the same name for liquid and weight measurements anyway????? Ha!
I have made the cake twice and have problems with the cake absorbing the milk mixture. I use a cake mix and bake according to directions. What am I doing wrong?
Others have had the same issue – are you poking enough holes in the cake? I’m not sure if the texture of a cake mix might be the issue (less absorbent) but sometimes when I make this, I don’t end up using all of the milk mixture.
Hi Mel, do you think this cake is firm enough to cut in pieces? I was thinking of making it for my son’s b-day but he wants a rocket shape so I was going to cut it in pieces and shape it into a rocket, all single layer. Thanks for your incites, my sisters and I love your Web site! We talk about “what Mel said” as if we know you personally 🙂
Thanks, Haily – so happy you and your sisters are loving the recipes! About the cake, that’s a good question. The cake itself is firm enough to cut but once cut and pieced together, I’m afraid it might fall apart (the edges especially) when drenched with the milk syrup, especially since it won’t be cushioned in a pan.
Does this Recipe work as a dual layer cake with fresh fruit in the middle? I have a groom that wanted it for his wedding cake but was will to settle for it as a grooms cake.
Elizabeth N – I think the cake (because it is soaked with the three-milk mixture) is too soft to layer – I’m afraid it would fall apart.
I think this is the best cake I’ve ever made, and I’ve been the chief dessert chef in my family for 30 years! My teenage daughter wants this for her next birthday cake (and she ALWAYS asks for an ice cream cake)! Thanks for the recipe!
YUM! Mel, this is making me drool! My husband’s favorite cake is one that is very similar to this one, it’s one my mom has made for years. It’s a butter yellow cake, baked, and then you mix the can of cream of coconut AND a can of Eagle Brand condensed milk, and pour that mixture over the poked cake while it’s still HOT out of the oven. Then the entire cake is cooled in the fridge, then topped with whipped cream and flaked coconut. I’m anxious to try your version, I love the idea of adding vanilla to the soaking mix. If it’s anything like EVERY OTHER RECIPE on your site, it will be absolutely delicious!
WOW, tres leches is international now
This cake earned me an A in my spanish class, thanks for the help.
I made your recipe for this cake 3 years ago for my husbands birthday, and He requested it again this year for his birthday which was yesterday. Still an amazing recipe! We all loved it! We enjoy many of your recipe’s which are now staples in our weeknight dinner rotation. Thanks for sharing!
Brian was right. This was the perfect Father’s Day dessert.
Hey Mel… first off, thanks for providing my dinner for nearly every meal. I absolutely love your site. I just made this cake and had a few problems. First, my cake fell terribly in the middle. How do you prevent a cake from sinking while baking? Because of this, the liquid mixture kept running into the center of the cake which made the outside edges dry at the bottom and the middle absolutely soaked. Do you over bake the cake to begin with to help prevent it being soggy in the end?
Thanks for your help!
Hi Holly – the cake for this recipe can definitely stand to be overbaked a little since the milk soaks in. Did you use a cake mix? It really depends on what recipe you used for the cake and why it sank but yes, you can easily overbake by a few minutes to ensure the cake domes and doesn’t sink and the tres leches cake will still turn out delicious.
Made this last night with a yellow cake mix and my family went crazy. Some even said it was the best dessert they’ve ever tried! Delish! Thank you!
Mel, do you think it would work to make cupcakes? I am wondering if they will be too moist. They will be served to adults for our upcoming service auction, so messiness is okay, but individual servings would be nice. I usually avoid powdered milk, but for this I think coconut powder will work great as a substitute, and will bring out the coconut flavor. I am also wondering about combining this and the chocolate version somehow. Either chocolate cake and coconut syrup, or vice versa…
Hi Anne – I’ve seen tres leches cupcakes around the internet so I know it’s been done, but I think due to the moistness, they are usually served on a plate with a fork.
Well, I made this cake over and over and it is always delicious.. 🙂 So with the best of the intentions to help, here it goes what I found on UHT and cream of coconut:
From wikipedia: Ultra-high temperature processing, (less often) ultra-heat treatment (both abbreviated UHT), or ultra-pasteurization is the sterilization of food by heating it…to kill spores in milk… fruit juices, cream, soy milk, yogurt…” I have had UHT milk and I found it to taste a little different (but not bad at all) than regular pasteurized milk.
Maybe you can make your cream of coconut with coconut milk: From http://bakingbites.com/2011/10/what-is-cream-of-coconut/ ” Cream of coconut is the coconut creamed with most of the water removed from it. It is made by chilling coconut milk and skimming off the thick, rich layer of cream that forms on top of it. Coconut cream has a buttery mouth feel and a good coconut flavor.”
I’m in the UK and cannot find Cream of Coconut. I have found Coconut Milk, Creamed Coconut and Coconut Cream UHT. I didn’t think it would be a UHT product so just grabbed the Creamed Coconut but now realise that is NOT what I wanted, but is Coconut Cream the right thing? Will the UHT factor alter the flavour?
Annette – I have no idea what UHT is, to be honest. You’d probably have to pick some up and see what exactly it is (you are looking for a sweetened coconut liquid).
Made this today and it was delicious! I used my own yellow cake recipe and vanilla bean paste in place of the vanilla but kept everything else the same. I worried that it wouldn’t be coconutty enough because of some of the reviews but thought it was perfect! Loved the addition of the banana and toasted coconut on top…such a great combo. My husband who doesn’t like coconut commented twice about how good it was! Thanks!
Is this just as good with a yellow cake mix?
Hi Lindy – I don’t generally use cake mixes, so I can’t guarantee it, but my guess is it would work just fine.
I have done this cake 3 or 4 times in the last year. It’s always delicious and it raises perfectly every time. I also baked it as cupcakes and it yield about 30 cupcakes instead of 24. I confess I tried another similar recipe from foodnetwork, only to come back to this one. This is my go to recipe for yellow cake and coconut cake. It is just THAT good!
I found your blog by searching for a tres leches recipe to try (for the first time). I used the boxed yellow mix and even though I didn’t have the coconut topping, I loved it!! Definitely will be making more and trying your other recipes for the holidays. Thanks!!
OH WOW!! This was absolutley DIVINE! Did not dissapoint. I made this for a family Memorial Day party, and my brothers were seriously arguing over the last 2 pieces, and they’re old enough to know better. It was actually kind of funny!! I can’t wait to try many of your other recipes. Thanks so much for sharing.
P.S. I found your blog through Pinterest. :0)
Amy – the note below the recipe title indicates that cream of coconut can usually be found in either the Asian food section or in the alcoholic beverages/mixed drinks section (although it doesn’t contain alcohol). It is a thick, sweet coconut mixture. Stephanie, a commenter above, mentioned she accidentally used coconut cream, which is much thicker and not as sweet. The cans of cream of coconut are clearly labeled as such. I hope it turns out!
I just am making this and what is cream of coconut? I think I used the wrong stuff. I hope it turns out.
Made this yesterday for a Cinco de Mayo party, and it was amazing! I LOVED the coconut flavor of your version. I’m so glad that other commenters directed us to look in the liquor mixer isle for the cream of coconut. That saved me some searching time. (And the bananas were a perfect accent too.) It was a big hit at the party, so thanks! I will definitely make it again!
PS Most tres leches cakes are just too soggy for me, so even though you mentioned that this version is less soggy, I still ended up only using only 2/3 of the blended milk syrup, and the result suited my taste as far as *really* moist but not soggy. (And the leftover syrup was yummy in coffee later that evening. 🙂
The cake is in the fridge now – it’s dessert tonight for our Seis De Mayo dinner 🙂 It might not turn out, though. The liquid is not absorbing and I think I know why. I used Coconut Cream instead of Cream of Coconut. I just did a google search to see if that’s what the problem is, and it turns out they’re not the same! I do have a number of hours until we’re supposed to eat it so hopefully that will help the extra-thick liquid absorb.
I wanted to share in case there are other readers who might be trying to figure out if they should use Coconut Cream. Who knew!?!
Just made this yesterday and it is AWESOME! Will definitely be making again!
Wow! This was fantastic. Will make it again…..soon!
We loved this cake for Easter! Loved, Loved. It’s a keeper.
I found cream of coconut at my local Walmart in the beer/wine section. It’s a small can that can get missed easily by the taller bottles.
I made this cake as my husband’s birthday cake and it is SERIOUSLY AWSOME. Delicious!!!! I didn’t serve it with the bananas and used extra toasted coconut to cover the frosting. From now on this is the official birthday cake in our house (I have two boys). We all love it!
I made this as my birthday cake (cause that’s how I roll) and it was a big hit. Unfortunately, I forgot the bananas when I served it originally, and that’s a shame because they were really delicious when I remembered them the next day. I wish now that I had read Jnl2211’s comment about coconut whippped cream – that sounds great! Thanks for the recipe and for making a very happy birthday 🙂
Oh my word delicious! I’m so glad I found this recipe 🙂 the only change I made was instead of plain whipped cream, I made coconut whipped cream! Very good especially for those that want a more coconut-y flavor! You just take a can of coconut milk and refrigerate it for a few hours, then take the cream only part and whip it up like regular cream. I also took half the whipped coconut cream and about 3 oz of cream cheese and whipped slightly sweetened cream cheese until light and fluffy, added vanilla bean paste (my new favorite thing), then folded in the coconut whipped cream! To die for!
made this last night and it ROCKS! yum!! i keep finding myself standing in the fridge, snagging bites with my fingers. 🙂 i couldn’t find the cream of coconut (should have looked in the comments for the mixed drink aisle tip!) so i used lite coconut milk and it worked fine. still had a nice hint of coconut.
In response to Julia, who asked about finding Cream of Coconut in Utah. I found it at my local grocer, Ream’s in Springville. But that is not a chain store, it is locally owned. In my store they stock it in the beverage aisle by the soda and bottled water in a tiny mixed drink section. It’s worth it to search for.
I LOVE this cake! I crave the Tres Leches Cake served at the Cafe Rio restaurant chain (we have them here in Utah, so sorry if you don’t have one!). And this recipe is just as good. And it is so easy. The tricky part is waiting until an appropriate event to make it, because if there aren’t fellow partiers to share it with, I WILL finish the whole cake myself over 3-4 days. I recently made it for my birthday cake and everyone loved it, children and adults. We ate it with fresh strawberries and peaches–like, picked-off-my-tree-between-dinner-and-dessert FRESH. Soooo yummy!
Hi Mel – I’m trying this recipe today. I’ve already baked the cake and poured the milk mixture all over the cake; now its in the fridge. My question: Is the sweetened cream going to be ok to spread over the top like a frosting?
I hope my guest will love it as much as you husband enjoyed your cake. Thanks for the recipe.
Becky – yes, you could probably spread the sweetened whipped cream all over the top. I don’t see why not! Hope everyone loved this!
Made this cake yesterday. Your husband is right about being able to eat this everyday. It was SOOO GOOD! We had guests over and they said they would have paid to eat this cake and that it was now their favorite cake. Loved it! Thanks again for another great recipe.
Thanks again Mel for another delicious recipe. Just had this last week and really enjoyed it. Reminded me of Mexico and the warm weather. Here’s my post on it. http://hobbiesmakemehappy.blogspot.com/2011/02/coconut-tres-leches-cake.html
Can’t wait to try some more recipes!
I am making this tomorrow morning for a dinner tomorrow night. Will reply back at how it worked. In answer to Julia, my local store has the drink mixers by the soda, not in the isle that has beer. Give it a try. I find it everywhere. One brand name is Coco Lopez. You’re store employees will know. : )
You are the best! I made this for my bf’s birthday and it was all the rave. =) As with some others, had a hard time finding “Cream of coconut” but finally found it at “Superior Market”. Heads up, seems the 99 cent store sells it and so does Bevo. I’ll be storing this recipe for sure! Thanks!
Briana – I’m thrilled this cake worked out for your boyfriend’s birthday – thanks for the tips on the cream of coconut!
made this for Thanksgiving & it ROCKED!!! best stuff ever! thanks for sharing!!!
Love your site and can’t wait to try this cake! I live in Utah and have had the hardest time finding the cream coconut. I finally caved and just got coconut milk today. If anyone in utah has found the cream coconut, please let me know what store and where! I haven’t found it with the asian isle and there isn’t really mix drink stuff in Utah stores as alcohol, other than beer, isn’t really sold in grocery stores here. Thanks again for the amazing recipe!
Made it tonight for a potluck — LOADS of compliments and recipe requests (I am sending them the link to here). THANKS!
Thanks, Tanya! So glad this was a hit for your potluck!
I made this cake yesterday (one of TWO cakes from your site that my husband requested for his birthday) and it was great! It took me all week and 5 grocery stores to find the cream of coconut, and thank the heavens I finally read on the comments to look in the alcoholic drink mix section, there it was all along.
The cake turned out delicious! I used a boxed yellow cake mix and forgot the banana garnish, but still didn’t think there was room for improvement. The toasted coconut can’t be underestimated, it added a great texture, and completed the coconut flavor. Thank you for another great recipe! I will be making this one again.
Amber – that’s dedicated searching to look through five stores. I’ll have to add the tip on where to find it to the recipe. Glad the cake turned out great for you and I agree on the toasted coconut – it wouldn’t be the same without it!
I am making this for a potluck later this week (Thursday). How far in advance do you think I can make it and keep in the fridge? I already made up the dry portion of the cake mix and it is in the fridge.
Also, I found two brands of cream of coconut at my local Kroger. They are with the “cocktail mixers.” Apparently the stuff makes a mean pina colada.
Tanya – I would say you could make this 24 hours in advance. Maybe a day and a half if you are pushing it. While it is supposed to be a “moist” cake it tends to get a little soggy if it sits too long (the leftovers we had weren’t very good by day 2-3).
I made this dessert today, and while it wouldn’t win any awards for appearance, it was mighty delicious. I used the your make-ahead yellow cake recipe and the outside edges rose and cooked to a beautiful golden brown, but the center remained flat, though not wet enough to say that it didn’t cook, but it was extremely dense. I followed your directions and poked a jillion holes for the coconut syrup, but the center of the cake never absorbed it. I let it sit in the fridge for five hours hoping for a miracle to occur, but in the end my cake was a gooey wet mess; however, the flavors were delightful all the same and I served it in a bowl instead of on a plate.
Meredith – hmmm…it’s strange that the liquid didn’t absorb, it must have been related to how dense the cake baked up. But kudos to you for rescuing the dessert anyway. I’m glad you enjoyed the flavors!
I knew i would find something here that would kick me right in the rear. I LOVE tres leche cakes.. the photo reached out and grabbed me. I AM making this tomorrow. I’ll have to change the cream of coconut for coconut milk and condensed milk mixed together.
And your banana bread is flying around facebook like crazy… everyone loves it.
This looks wonderful! and I LOVE coconut! Will be making it this coming week!
I Stumbled on this page… and i just wanted to let you know that this cake was HEAVEN. Now, I had to make some adjustments, since I could not for the life of me find cream of coconut, so… I used full flavor coconut milk, and instead of evap milk, I used sweetened condensed, since it was thicker. It turned out so good that I almost hid it and did not share! Thank you for this delicious recipe. I WILL be making it again… and again…. and again!
Thanks, Lili – I love your changes!
I made it tonight and it was a hit. It wasn’t as coconut-y as I expected, but I thought it had the perfect amount of sweetness. I love the idea of using fresh pineapple on top. I can’t wait to try that.
Heather – I’m so glad you liked this cake! Thanks for letting me know.
Yup. Delicious. Here’s my question though–Where has cream of coconut been all my life? Holy cats that stuff is good. So good in fact, that I think next time I make it I would double the amount of cream of coconut in place of the evaporated milk because I felt like once it was all absorbed the coconut flavor wasn’t quite as strong as I wanted. But with the toasted coconut, bananas and cream on top it was just divine.
Reyna – it sounds like others felt like it could be more coconut-y also, so I agree with you, perhaps doubling the cream of coconut is the key. Can you even imagine all the other wonderful applications for cream of coconut?
No words can describe how amazing this cake was!! Nobody that ate it could stop at one piece… We topped ours with ripe pineapple and it was like the ultimate pina colada in cake form. Truly delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe!
Thanks, Susie! I think the fresh pineapple sounds absolutely divine!
Let me first just say that I absolutely love you and your website! You inspire me with all of your cooking adventures and I don’t do any meal planning without first opening up to your site to have in front of me. Thank you!
Just a note: I went in search of cream of coconut and I have found it (Smith’s and Walmart, so far) in the wine section where the mixes and such are. Know where I mean? I’ve never seen it by the canned coconut milk and I had to ask at the store. Since then, I find it easily in that section.
Thanks, Brittany! I’ve found it in the Asian foods aisle at only one grocery store and everywhere else, I’ve had to look in the “drink mix” section by the alcohol.
I made this last night and it was delicious! After reading some of the comments I was a little worried it would be soggy, but it wasn’t. I will definitely make this one again!
Hillary – I’m glad that despite your reservations this cake turned out well for you!
Uh oh… HELP!! I made it tonight for a bbq that we had but it never soaked into my cake. It’s still “flooded” over. Has this happened to anyone?
Marcela – Did you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the cake soak up all the milk? It will appear “flooded” at first, but after a few hours, the milk should absorb into the cake. If it has been in the fridge for a few hours and still isn’t soaking up but you have a few hours yet before you serve it, try taking a skewer and poking more holes in the cake. This cake absorbs best when there are millions of little holes to let the liquid seep in.
I hope that helps! (If you are in a crunch and don’t have time to try anything else, take a spoon and scoop off the excess liquid so you can at least serve it still.)
I found this recipe yesterday and had the same problem and I poked a zillion holes first with a fork then a wooden skewer (larger holes) and kept it in the fridge overnight and it still did not absorb. I used a box mix, next time I will try your make ahead recipe. This time I just left it with the mixture on top added the whipped cream, coconut and bananas. The taste was wonderful!
We worship coconut in our house. Seriously. I’ll have to make this for Father’s Day! Thanks!
This was yum yum! I used coconut milk instead of cream of coconut, since my store didn’t have it. It turned out perfectly, although I would like to know what the actually version tastes like. Everyone loved it! (I even used a box cake mix). My hubby said it was the BEST Tres Leches cake he’s ever had. He’s not a big cake eater either.
Stacie – good to know coconut milk worked out just as well for you, although if you ever make it again with cream of coconut you’ll have to let me know any differences you can detect. Glad your husband gave it high praises!
Great, thanks 🙂
I am so excited to try this! Since I am away from home, I don’t want to buy all the ingredients to make the homemade cake mix, so I’m buying one. Will one box mix equal the amount you have here? Or do I need to double it???
Stacie – a store-bought yellow cake mix, baked and cooled, is the exact substitute for the homemade yellow cake mix. So buy one cake mix and you are good to go!
Like Janeil posted, cream of coconut can be found by the pina cola drink mixes in almost any store. I have my cake cooling right now and am about to pour on the coconut mixture. Can’t wait this smells so good! Thanks Melanie!
I made this cake the other day and it is amazing! The cake is big enough to share with several people, but my husband and I have been keeping it to ourselves. 🙂 I didn’t make the topping and it still tastes fantastic. It has kept well in the fridge and I think the flavor has gotten better over the past couple of days. Thanks so much for this recipe!!
Ruchita – I’m thrilled this cake turned out so well for you! Thanks for your review.
uh oh, i am in soooo much trouble. i loooooove tres leches but with added coconut and banana? i will pretend i never saw this delightful recipe. ☺ actually, i will, and i will probably make it for next week bbq. ha! thanks for the yumminess!
We have a very similar cake on Clouse Cousins Cookin’ that uses strawberries instead of bananas and sweetened condensed milk combined with the cream of coconut for the mixture poured on the cake. It is also delicious! I’m excited to try your version now! Thanks for the recipe. http://clousecousinscookin.blogspot.com/2009/05/coconut-strawberry-cake.html
WONDERFUL recipe! This was sooooo good! What we liked about it was that it wasn’t too sweet like a lot of tres leche cakes are. This is definetly a keeper!!!
Kara – that’s the exact reason I loved this – not too sweet but definitely decadent. Thanks for letting me know it was a hit!
I’m a fan of Tres Leches…I’ve never made it with a cake mix though. I’m sure willing to try, although I think I’ll miss my condensed milk, which was always one of my ingredients. Mine is soggier too…and really, really rich.
Going to try your recipe, Mel.
so wait. are you saying this particular breed of cake is seriously awesome? don’t be so subtle about it next time! 🙂
tremendous, mel–i don’t usually go for soggy piles of stuff either, but i love tres leches cakes and i ADORE coconut in anything. this’ll be making its debut in my kitchen soon!
This does look seriously good! Do you think it would be okay to make the night before? Or would you want to serve it the same day?
Robyn – the cake needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours, so my gut says you could make it the night before, however, ideally, I think it should be made the morning or afternoon of – just to give it enough time to soak up all the syrup and chill for a bit. The leftovers we ate the next day were good, but not as good as the day of.
You had me at coconut. This will be made. Oh yes, it will be made.
I am from Australia, and discovered your amazing food blog by accident. I am so very, very pleased to have found it.
I would love to try this cake but noticed there is no added sugar to the soaking milks. Other recipes use condensed milk, which is the sweetener.
Where does the sweetness come from in this recipe? Also we have cans of coconut cream (just thicker than coconut milk – not sweet though)…would that be the same as your cream of coconut?
Thanks again for taking the time to share with the world…even down here in Australia.
Angela – thanks for your comment! No, there is no added sugar in the milk syrup with this particular tres leches cake. Chalk it up to me being just so healthy! Uh, that was a joke of course.
That particular fact is actually what I liked best about it – the finished cake wasn’t over-the-top sweet but there is definitely enough sugar in the actual cake and in the sweetened whipped cream to give it a perfect balance. I think the coconut cream you are referring to would make a great substitution. I hope that helps!
omg. this looks awesome (seriously!). i wanted to let you know that most of the time, if your supermarket has a liquor section, the cream of coconut will be in there…ya know..because people like pina coladas, i guess. it doesn’t make sense to me either but it’s there.
I make a similar cake with only cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk. It is to die for! I’ll have to give your’s a shot. It looks equally, if not more, satisfying.
This looks involved (which I usually stay away from). This also looks really good…totally awesome. Thank you for inspiring me. I will make it.
I tried Tres Leches Cake recently and thought it was ok, but a bit bland. But will be absolutely thrilled to try this with the coconut, etc…..it just seems to up the taste into a heavenly place :o)
Every store I have been to sells Cream of Coconut including Wal-Mart but you have to look in the mixed drinks section it’s not normally with the coconut milk. Just thought I would let you know so people don’t spend to much time looking for it. I use it for coconut ice cream. Yum! I will defiantly have to give this recipe a try.
Thanks for the tips on where to find cream of coconut!
Totally trying this on my new husband for our next special occasion. Sounds TO DIE FOR! Also – if you have any recommendations on an easy (non-flambe) Bananas Foster, I’d love to hear it!
This looks really good. We all love coconut so I’ll have to try it. Also, I have found cream of coconut at several stores by the alcoholic drink mixes. Wierd place but I guess it is used to make drinks.
This sounds so good. I will definitely make this one…maybe this weekend. Also, if you can’t find cream of coconut at your store just add a bunch of sugar to regular coconut milk, that’s all cream of coconut is. It will work great!
Wow! This looks absolutely delicious! I love coconut– In fact, I make your coconut cream pie recipe ALL.THE.TIME, so I’m really anxious to try this. Your recipies never disappoint!
Yum! This looks fabulous!!! Now I need a reason to make this so I don’t eat it all myself!
You’re lucky to have a good critic! My man will eat anything, even if it fails. He even eats my cupcakes when they sink in the middle.
I absolutely love tres leche cake (I just made it for the first time last month) and I LOVE coconut. What a great combination! I will be trying this for sure. Thank you!
i can’t wait to try this. i have never made tres leches cake because of the soggy factor, but this one looks like a keeper~
I just enjoyed a piece of tres leche cake this last weekend at Cafe Rio while in Utah – I love it!! Can’t wait to try it at home now. How strong is the coconut flavor – have a few non coconut lovers at our house?
I think it is so sweet that Brian is your food critic (for your blog posts)! Wow…this recipe must be really good to deserve so much feedback from him! 🙂
I have never really liked tres leches cake (too soggy for me), but your description of this cake sounds heavenly! The coconut milk, toasted coconut and the bananas really set this recipe apart from the traditional tres leches cake (as well as your make ahead yellow cake mix!). If you (and Brian) love it, I am sold! Thanks for sharing with us, Mel! 🙂
Brilliant. I love tres leches but have never used coconut. Perfect!
This is the recipe I’ve been searching for. I had made this exact cake a couple of years ago and lost the website where I found the recipe. I wanted to use the cream of coconut, evaporated milk and cream mixture for the liquid and couldn’t find it until now. I used a vanilla flavored white cake mix and I toasted the coconut garnish plus used some UN-toasted coconut in the batter. The cake is just phenomenal and perfect for any special occasion.