Don't look down on boxed cake mix, even if you know how to make a cake from scratch. Boxed cakes always turn out great, even with minimal effort and attention! Trust them to deliver in high-pressure situations (like a DIY wedding cake!), spontaneous celebrations, or spur-of-the-moment cake cravings.
This tres leches recipe uses boxed cake mix so you can focus on what really matters: the three-milk soak. Using coconut milk instead of regular milk adds a pleasant tropical note.
What is tres leches?
Tres leches (also pastel de tres leches) is a popular Latin American dessert. To make it, you poke holes into a cake for it to soak in the eponymous three-milk mixture: condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk. After soaking overnight, the moist cake acquires a rich, almost custardy texture.
Other milks to try
Not a fan of coconut milk? You can either switch it out with equal amounts of whole milk or cream and stop there, or infuse some flavor into it for a nice twist:
- Cereal milk: Combine whole milk / cream and evaporated milk with your favorite breakfast cereal (like cornflakes). Let cereal soak for at least 30 minutes. Pour through a mesh strainer to remove cereal, then add condensed milk to make your three-milk soak. Add more cereal as a garnish to the cake.
- Coffee milk: Dissolve instant coffee in whole milk / cream warmed in the microwave or in a saucepan, then combine with evaporated or condensed milk. You can also substitute half of the plain milk with strongly brewed coffee or cold brew concentrate.
- Milk tea: Steep a strong dose of earl grey, Thai tea, or a black tea like Ceylon or Assam in gently warmed whole milk / cream + evaporated milk. If using finely ground tea such as matcha or hojicha, no need to heat anything up—just combine it with the condensed milk first.