Coffee Caramel Tres Leches Cake

Coffee Caramel Tres Leches Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This is a mashup of a classic Mexican cake and the Vietnamese ice coffee I am so addicted to. The connection is the sweetened condensed milk that is the foundation for both. Tres Leches (three milks) is a cake soaked with cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Vietnamese ice coffee is made with the strongest coffee on earth mixed with sweetened condensed milk and poured over ice.

I made a coffee caramel milk syrup to soak the cake with and then topped it with a coffee whipped cream. Tres Leches by nature can be a bit sweet, but the coffee cream toned down the sugar and added a slight bitterness, which I found to be perfection. My family ate half the coffee caramel Tres Leches cake while I was at pottery class and then polished it off for breakfast the next morning, which just happened to me Cinco de Mayo.

Slice of Coffee Caramel Tres Leches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Sweetened Condensed Milk | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Coffee Caramel Tres Leches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Coffee Caramel Tres Leches Cooling | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Coffee Caramel Tres Leches Cake

Find the full recipe at the end of the post, but you can watch me make the coffee caramel milk syrup and assemble the caramel tres leches cake in the photos below.

Sugar and water for caramel sauce | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Coffee Caramel Milk Syrup

In a medium-sized, heavy bottomed pan, heat the sugar and water over medium heat. Make sure the sugar doesn’t go up the sides of the pan.

Making caramel | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Don’t stir or move the pot until the caramelization starts. (If you stir or move the pan it can cause the sugar to recrystallize and harden.) Once it has started to caramelize you can swirl the sugar around in the pan to help it caramelize evenly. Once it starts to smoke, you are ready to add the milk.

Whisking caramel | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

The caramel will bubble, steam and sputter when you add the milk and coffee, so do it carefully.

Poking holes in caramel Tres Leches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Using a large skewer poke dozens of holes in the cake. You want to make sure to do it about every 1/2 inch, so the cake is well soaked at the end.

Drizzling Caramel | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Drizzle the caramel over the caramel tres leches cake. I do it slowly, so it has time to make it into the holes more evenly.

Caramel sauce for Tres Leches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Coffee Caramel Tres Leches Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Let the cake sit for at least 15 minutes, but an hour+ is better.

Coffee Whipped Cream | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Coffee Whipped Cream

In a saucepan, heat the cream and add the coffee. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. (It is best to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and strain the next day to get the strongest flavor.)

Coffee Whipped Cream | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Strain the cream and whip to medium peak.

Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Cover with cream. Serve any leftovers for breakfast, add sliced bananas if you feel guilty about eating cake in the morning.

Tres Leches Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Spreading Whipped Cream on Tres Leches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Coffee Caramel Tres Leches Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François Slice of coffee caramel Tres Leches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Coffee Caramel Tres Leches Cake | ZoeBakes by Zoë François

Coffee Caramel Tres Leches

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk

Coffee Caramel Milk Syrup

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons espresso or coffee powder

Topping (best made the day before)

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed coffee beans (not ground)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Instructions

    1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and line a 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper.
    2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside.
    3. Cream together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Alternate adding the flour and evaporated milk until you have a smooth batter, but don't over mix.
    4. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack until room temperature.
    5. Make the coffee caramel milk syrup: In a medium-sized, heavy bottomed pan, heat the sugar and water over medium heat. Make sure the sugar doesn't go up the sides of the pan. Don't stir or move the pot until the caramelization starts. (If you stir or move the pan it can cause the sugar to recrystallize and harden.)
    6. Once it has started to caramelize you can swirl the sugar around in the pan to help it caramelize evenly. Once it starts to smoke, you are ready to add the milk. The caramel will bubble, steam and sputter when you add the milk and coffee, so do it carefully.
    7. Using a large skewer poke dozens of holes in the cake. You want to make sure to do it about every 1/2 inch, so the cake is well soaked at the end.
    8. Drizzle the caramel over the cake. I do it slowly, so it has time to make it into the holes more evenly. Let the cake sit for at least 15 minutes, but an hour+ is better.
    9. To make the coffee whipped cream: In a saucepan, heat the cream and add the coffee. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. (It is best to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and strain the next day to get the strongest flavor.)
    10. Strain the cream and whip to medium peaks.
    11. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Cover with cream. Serve any leftovers for breakfast, add sliced bananas if you feel guilty about eating cake in the morning!

9 thoughts to “Coffee Caramel Tres Leches Cake”

  1. Sounds delicious. I am always amazed with your ideas for unique recipes. I love the step-by-step directions with the pictures.

  2. This sounds absolutely delicious. It’s a shame I can’t have cream… I may have to play around with it a bit as I absolutely LOVE Vietnamese coffee..

    Beanie

  3. i have eaten w-a-a-a-y too many tres leches cakes in my time, but come on… now, coffee enters the game?… seriously?!? i am having a mental melt moment here. zoe for president!

  4. It looks amazing ,I’m gonna to make it but when I should add the heavy cream and condensed milk in syrup preperation ??

  5. Is there a way to print the recipe without all of the pictures . . . just ingredient list and directions?

    1. Hi Pamela! I just updated this recipe with a recipe card, so now it will be super easy to print the card. You’ll find it at the bottom of the post now. Happy baking!

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