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Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

This awesome chocolate tres leches cake is really just a chocolate buttermilk cake in disguise. It also is the best way to get your chocolate milk fix. Just sayin’!

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

A chocolate tres leches cake is always special.

If this is your first time making a tres leches cake, prepared to be amazed.

I never knew a cake could hold this much liquid and not become mushy, but truly this cake gets better with every bite.

Everyone loves its chocolate flavor and they also rave about how moist it is.

This cake may hail from Nicaurauga or it may not. Some say it is from Brazil or Costa Rica or Mexico. Let’s just say it comes from somewhere down South!

It may be related to an English trifle because trifles are a layered dessert where the cake is soaked and then often layered with a pudding nd fruit.

Tres leches cake became popular when canned milks were introduced into areas in Central and South America. These types of milk included condensed milk, and evaporated milk.

The soaking of the cake helps it keep well and stay incredibly moist.

I had never made a tres leches cake recipe until about 5 years ago when I baked a coconut rum tres leches cake.  In fact, I never even knew what a tres leches cake was.

I had always seen fun and decorative cakes in the Mexican bakeries but never knew that they were a classic tres leches cake.

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

So what is a tres leches cake?

A three milk cake, tres leches cakes are thought to derive from an English trifle or an Italian tiramisu.

It was when Nestles printed a recipe on the back of a condensed milk can in the 1930’s that tres leches cake became a Mexican standard dessert. Thank goodness!

A traditional tres leches cake always contain three kinds of milk. Being a chocolate lover, I love that this one contains chocolate milk.

As for the cake, a tres leches cake is usually made from a fluffy sponge cake base. Others prefer a pound cake base.

Whatever your choice, it is the adding of the milks that make a tres leches cake.

In actuality, this cake might even be considered a poke cake. After it is baked it is necessary to poke holes through the top of the cake with a wooden skewer so the milk can soak into the cake.

This tres leches chocolate cake is easy to have fun with and when you think about all the flavored milks out there you certainly should be able to make your own favorite combination.

My previously posted coconut rum tres leches cake was a true sponge cake. It contained flour, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract as the base of the cake. Not true with this one.

This divine chocolate cake is just a chocolate buttermilk cake disguised as a tres leches cake. Whatever. This cake is awesome with or without the added milks.

The added chocolate, evaporated and condensed milks, the tres leches, just add extra flavor and moistness. The whipped cream frosting on the top just puts this over the top.

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

So get our your skewer, poke away, and enjoy this disguised chocolate cake.

Toppings for tres leches cakes are often whipped cream, but meringues can work, too. 

I added some coffee syrup around the cake and some coffee crystals to the whipped cream which give this just a hint of mocha. If you don’t like coffee, please leave it out.

Tres Leches cakes are easy to make. They just require a bit of time in the fridge for the milk to soak in. Easily made in an 8″ greased pan, this simple cake is great for a family!

Covered with plastic wrap, this keeps well in the fridge, but I guarantee it will be scarfed up before you know it.

I love making this cake for Cinco de mayo or even 4th of July. It looks so pretty when covered with berries!

Steps to Making a chocolate tres leches cake:

This buttermilk chocolate cake begins by melting butter with hot coffee. The coffee helps bring out the flavor of the chocolate but if you don’t like coffee, use boiling water.

Honestly though, I don’t think you will taste the coffee.

Using a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients like eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

Then add the dry ingredients to the bowl.

Once it is halfway mixed, add in the butter/coffee mixture and stir until the batter is smooth.

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

At this point I added chopped chocolate and if you want a true Mexican chocolate tres leches cake. instead of regular grated chocolate, add some Mexican chocolate which contains cinnamon and cocoa nibs.

Now pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake.

Cool cake and then poke small holes, using a toothpick or skewer throughout the cake. Truly it is hard to poke too many holes!

Mix together the three milks in a large measuring cup and pour over the cooled cake.

I refrigerated this cake overnight to make it extra moist, but 60 minutes should work too.

Whip up some cold heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Add a touch of espresso powder for some extra flavor, but that is up to you.

Decorate with chocolate shavings and make a lot of people happy!

Add this to you amazing recipes file. It is divine!

A Few More Great Cakes:


Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake


Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake
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Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes*
  • Cook Time: 45 Minutes
  • Total Time: 75 Minutes*
  • Yield: 8 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Mexican/American


This awesome chocolate tres leches cake is really a chocolate buttermilk cake in disguise. It also is the best way to get your chocolate milk fix. Just sayin’!


Units Scale

1/2 c hot coffee

6 T unsalted butter

2 large eggs

2/3 c buttermilk

2 t vanilla

1 c sugar

3/4 c flour

1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 c sweetened condensed milk

1/2 c evaporated milk

1/2 c chocolate milk

2 c heavy cream, whipped until stiff peaks form

1 t instant espresso

Grated chocolate for garnish


Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 x 8 pan with butter and set aside.

In a measuring cup, whisk the hot coffee and butter until the butter melts. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda and salt.

Once it is halfway mixed, pour in the coffee/butter mixture and stir until the batter is smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Pour batter into your greased pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is just set in the middle. Cool completely.

When cool, poke holes all over the cake, close together. Whisk together the condensed, evaporated and chocolate milk. Pour it over the tops of the cake and let it sink in. Refrigerate cake for at least 60 minutes, but I refrigerated it overnight.

After chilling and before serving mix your whipped cream with the instant espresso and spread over the top of the cake. Garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired. Store leftovers in the fridge!


*Does not include refrigerated time. Cake should be refrigerated for at least 60 minutes.

*Slightly adapted from A Sweet Eats

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star


Monday 1st of June 2020

Oh Abbe, this chocolate cake looks delicious, super moist and loaded with all different milks...yum, the way I like it. Have a great week and stay safe!


Thursday 28th of May 2020

oh yum this looks like a divine treat. i have made a tres leches cake before but this chocolate version looks the absolute bomb!!


Monday 25th of May 2020

I can't wait to try this version of tres leches cake! I am curious - in the body of the description you say it can easily be made in a 13x9 pan to feed a crowd, but your recipe says to bake in a 8x8 pan. Do you double it for a 13x9 pan?


Tuesday 26th of May 2020

Hi Katie. Thanks for catching this! Yes, please double for a 13 x 9 pan! Enjoy!

John / Kitchen Riffs

Monday 25th of May 2020

Chocolate milk! I haven't had that for ages. Now I want some. To drink with this cake, made with same. Fun recipe, and I haven't had a Tres Leches cake in forever. Time to make this, don't ya think? :-)


Saturday 23rd of May 2020

Looove your chocolate twist Abbe ! Pinned !