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Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Light-as-air, yet rich and sweet, this chocolate chiffon cake, soaked in three types of milk and topped with a luscious, velvety chocolate whipped cream, is the stuff dreams are made of. Soaked in sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream, tres leches [trays LAY-chays] means “three milks” in Spanish. And it’s how this cake, popular in Central and South America, got its name.

Start by using a chiffon cake, a type of sponge cake. It’s the perfect texture to allow the cake to absorb the milks without becoming soggy in the process. And the longer it sits, the better it gets. But what makes this version unique — chocolate. Cocoa powder gives deep chocolatey flavor without weighing down the cake, like bar chocolate would, plus added spices give it a Mexican flair. And to keep the cake light as air, beat the egg whites separately, then add them to the batter in increments.

What really sets this cake apart, though, is the whipped cream topping. For intense chocolate flavor, melt chocolate with cream, like you do for ganache, then whisk in sour cream for a little tang and a luxurious texture. Once chilled, beat it for the creamiest topping you’ll ever have.


12 servings

Total Time

1½ hours + chilling

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Preheat oven to 350°.

For the cake, sift flour, ¾ cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne into a large bowl.

Whisk together egg yolks, ½ cup cream, oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl; add to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in another bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, 34 minutes; gradually sprinkle in remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until whites are stiff and glossy but not dry, 4 minutes more.

Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the batter. Fold in remaining whites, in three batches, adding more when no streaks remain. Pour batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan set on a baking sheet. Bake cake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 4550 minutes; cool 10 minutes.

For the three milks, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and ½ cup cream. Poke cake all over with a skewer. Slowly pour milks over cake, letting them soak in before adding more. Cool cake completely, then cover and chill overnight.

For the topping, heat 1½ cups cream in a saucepan over medium until steaming. Off heat, add chocolate, cover, and let sit 5 minutes; whisk until smooth. Whisk in sour cream, then chill. Beat topping mixture until soft peaks form, then spoon over cake.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan, then unlock the ring and carefully remove the cake from the base.


So the milks are fully absorbed, poke plenty of holes in the cake and pour the milks over it while it’s still warm.


To ensure the chocolate melts completely, don’t add it to the cream until the cream is steaming.

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