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Cafe Con Tres Leches Cake (Coffee Tres Leches Cake)

Scott Phillips

Servings: 12 to 16

This coffee-spiked dessert tastes like a delicious cross between classic Mexican tres leches cake and tiramisu.


For the cake:

  • Unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
  • 4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the soaking liquid:

  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • Pinch kosher salt

For the topping:

  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Chocolate curls or toasted slivered almonds, for garnish


Bake the cake:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch Pyrex baking dish or a nonreactive metal pan. Line the bottom of the baking dish or pan with parchment and lightly butter the parchment.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a medium bowl and the yolks in a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar on medium speed until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until combined, 1 minute more.
  • Clean and dry the beaters and then beat the egg whites, gradually increasing the speed to high, until they reach soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a stream, continuing to beat on high, until you reach firm but not dry peaks, 1 to 2 minutes more. 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. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.
  • Return the cake to the baking dish or pan (the cake will soak up more of the liquid if returned to the pan it was baked in), or invert it onto a rimmed platter.

Soak the cake:

  • In a 2 quart saucepan, stir together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, coffee, and salt until the condensed milk is well blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring to avoid scorching, until it begins to bubble around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof 4 cup measuring cup.
  • With a toothpick, prick the cake to the bottom in 1/2-inch intervals. Pour the soaking liquid slowly over the cake, starting at the edges and pausing to let it soak in before adding more. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the cake is well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Top the cake:

  • In a large bowl, stir the instant coffee into 2 Tbs. of the heavy cream until dissolved. Add the remaining cream and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed. When it begins to thicken, slowly add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat just until it holds firm peaks, 3 to 4 minutes (be careful not to overbeat). Spread the whipped cream all over the top of the cake, sprinkle the chocolate curls or almonds over the top, and serve.

Make Ahead Tips

You can soak the cake in the milk mixture up to a day ahead and top it up to 2 hours ahead.


Rate or Review


  • madawaskabaker | 11/16/2016

    This cake looks delicious, just a question though, did anyone try baking it in round pans instead of the 9x11?Thanks

  • Gracks | 11/08/2015

    Until searching this site for a new dessert to serve for a supper party I had never heard of Tres Leches as I am from England. Having made and served this version, I am now on a crusade to introduce Tres Leches to England! My husband is adamant that I try no other recipes as this one with the coffee was amazing! My guests thought so too. I did alter one thing but did the rest as laid out by the recipe. For the soaking liquid I did not use brewed coffee. Instead I put 1 1/4 cups of whole espresso coffee beans (refreshed in a hot oven for about 3 minutes)into a sauce pan with the other soaking ingredients. I added 1/2 cup milk to replace the volume of the brewed coffee. I brought it near to the boil and then took it off the heat and covered it. After at least twenty minutes I added 5 finely crushed coffee beans and brought it back nearly to the boil. This mixture was then strained and slowly dribbled over the cake. I used both toasted slivered almonds and the chocolate for serving. It was brilliant!

  • kecleon2 | 06/02/2014

    Awesome cake. A few suggestions:-20 minutes bake time is plenty, it will begin to burn at 25.-When the cake was hot out of the oven, I accidentally flipped it onto a rack without a cover and when it cooled it formed a grid of depressions in the top of the cake. These channels helped guide the soaking liquid evenly and keep the slices even. Despit-For the whipped cream, I highly advise against instant coffee, it tastes pretty bad. Add in maybe 1/2 cup of real coffee and whip it well with all the cream while adding the sugar and vanilla.-As a garnish, since I'm too lazy for chocolate curls, I used a zester to shave bits of Baker's chocolate off, then mixed them with finely ground coffee beans and sprinkled that on top. It still looked attractive, and the slightly bitter, dry kick of the<anonymous>true</anonymous>

  • Magster828 | 04/11/2013

    I should note that my cake soaked for ~36 hours and I didn't measure exactly how much of the tres leches liquid I poured over it (could have been less than the 4 cups that were called for). I also added a splash (or two) of Amaretto Liquor which I thought was a GREAT addition.For whatever reason, my cake started to get way too brown on the top long before it was finished baking so I had to drop the temperature 200 degrees and cook it much longer. Ultimately though, it turned out perfect.I made it for a Mexican themed potluck at my office and everyone could not stop raving about it. Two separate people described it as a "home run" and even a coworker who lived in Mexico for several years said it was perfect. I found it to be a great dessert for a crowd because it's not overly sweet so it's tasty for a wide variety of pallets. Seriously, this cake made me the star of our luncheon! Would definitely recommend.

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