Once upon a time, like back in 2014 to be precise, I shared a recipe for a decadent, family favorite, Tres Leches Cake. It happens to be the cake my middle sister always requests for her birthday. It’s a great dessert that takes us all out of our traditional birthday cake comfort zone. It’s not all about yellow, chocolate, strawberry or funfetti when it comes to birthdays. It’s also about traditional latin cakes soaked in three different types of “milk.” The point I’m trying to make here is that this cake was long over four years ago, and so it was high time to reinvent the classic and share something new and exciting. This chocolate tres leches cake is flavored with a tiny bit of cinnamon and instant espresso powder (to really bring out that chocolate flavor) and also made with chocolate almond milk for one of the signature three milks needed to create that perfectly moist texture that makes this cake so great. Chocolate whipped cream, chopped dark chocolate, and almonds really puts that finishing touch. If we’re not going to Cheers to the Weekend with this particular cake, are we even living?
Let’s start by beating the egg whites (with a little bit of sugar) until stiff peaks form. They shouldn’t be dry at all, so be careful to not over beat the whites.
**Tip: So a tip for separating eggs. They always separate easier when they’re cold but they beat up better when they’re at room temperature.**
In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and instant espresso powder. Set aside.
In a separate bowl (or just transfer the egg whites to a different bowl) beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and doubled in size. Then whisk in the milk, vanilla, and almond extract.
Stir in 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture. Then fold in a third of the egg white mixture until evenly combined, but don’t over mix. Continue to fold in the remaining dry ingredients and egg whites in two batches.
**Note: Make sure to just gently fold each addition and try not to over-mix because it’ll deflate the egg whites and then the cake won’t rise properly.**
Pour the batter into a greased 9×13-inch baking pan and then bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
**Note: It’s important for the cake to cool completely before adding in the tres leches mixture or else the cake won’t absorb the liquid properly.**
In a large measuring cup, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, chocolate almond milk, and a pinch of salt. The salt helps bring out the flavor of all three milks. Poke the cooled cake all over with a wooden skewer. Then pour the milk mixture over the cake.
**Note: It might seem like too much liquid to add to the cake, but believe me, it’ll soak it up. That’s what a tres leches cake is all about. So add all of the mixture.**
Cover the cake with plastic wrap and allow to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight (max 24 hours). Then make the chocolate whipped cream and spread evenly over the top of the cake in an even layer.
You can decorate the edges of the cake with any leftover whipped cream, using a pastry bag and decorative tip, and then sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate and almonds if you’d like. This really tells people what the cakes flavor is, so I like to add them.
I like to chill the cake once more after I’ve added the cream and toppings, for at least 1 hour. It’ll firm up the whipped cream and makes the cake a lot easier to slice and serve.
This cake can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept, covered with plastic, in the fridge. It’s a great cake to keep in the fridge just waiting for guests, friends or family to come over so that you can serve them up a slice.
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- ½ cup chocolate almond milk
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup chopped dark chocolate
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or softened butter. Set aside.
- Sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, instant espresso, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl and set aside.
- Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a clean mixing bowl, and then place the yolks into a separate bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, gradually increasing the speed to high, until they reach soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly stream in ¼ cup granulated sugar, continuing to beat on high, until you reach firm but not dry peaks, 1 to 2 minutes more. Set aside.
- Beat the yolks with the remaining ¾ cup of the sugar on medium speed until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, vanilla and almond extract and beat until combined, 1 minute longer. Whisk a third of the dry ingredients into the yolk mixture until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in a third of the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients and egg whites, alternately, in two more batches each, until fully incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared dish or pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the from oven and let cool completely in the pan on a rack.
- In a large measuring cup, whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, chocolate almond milk and salt until well combined. Poke holes all throughout the cooled cake with a long wooden skewer and then pour the milk mixture over the cake. Cover with plastic and allow to chill at least 2 hours or overnight (up to 24 hours).
- To make the topping, beat the whipped cream, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and vanilla on high until soft peaks form. Dollop on top of the chilled cake and spread out into a smooth even layer. You can decorate the edge of the cake with any remaining chocolate whipped cream, using a piping bag and decorative tip, if you'd like. Sprinkle the edges with chopped chocolate and almonds. Chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!