Tres Leches Coconut Cake + MHAC


Hello hello, I’m sheepishly returning to the blogging world after a few weeks months of travelling mixed with a bit of school and future life crisis. I’m finishing the last month of my undergraduate degree and the mixture of feelings I have at this point is explosive. I’m so ready for finals to be over, I’m so dreading saying goodbye to friends, I’m excited for a new chapter in my life, I’m terrified that I’ll never be able to recreate what I have here. It took me four years to get this point – the point where I’m confident enough to strike up conversations with strangers, throw dinner parties, travel by myself, and maybe most importantly, realize that I can make a difference.


One of the committees I worked with this year is the Mental Health Awareness Committee. I went into it excited for a new year, new projects, but what I didn’t realize was that I would be part of a family of some of the most passionate and dedicated individuals I’ve met. I’ve been inspired countless times by the hard work each person put into our initiatives and I really think we did our part to bring mental health issues to the forefront on campus.I had the amazing opportunity to start my own project called Queen’s U Secrets – this was an idea that used to keep me up late at night. It would always start with “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and then the wheels would start spinning and an hour later I would wonder why I had so much energy even though it was 3am. And most importantly, after this happened a few times, I stopped asking “What if” and started thinking “How”. It was like someone had turned a switch that I never knew was there and I slowly realized that I could stop being a bystander. It was incredibly liberating to say “Why not?”. One year later, something that used to exist in the sketches beside my notes or in the blurry minutes before I fell asleep is now something I can share with hundreds of other people.


This cake that I made for the MHAC year end social. I have always wanted to make a tres leches cake (in Spanish it translates to “three milks”), which is traditionally a sponge cake soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk. It is kind of ridiculous. I just happened to have a few cans of coconut milk leftover from making curry and I knew I wasn’t the only MHAC member who likes LOVES coconut. Before, I thought “No, this is way too decadent, two cans of condensed milk and coconut milk?”

To that I say, “Why not?”

Tres Leches de Coco (Coconut Tres Leches Cake) adapted from Serious Eats

You shouldn’t be surprised that this cake is very sweet. The cake itself is like a super-saturated sponge cake with a mellow coconut flavour. The original recipe has a toasted meringue topping but I felt that a simple whipped cream offset the sweetness of the cake nicely.


For the Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
4 teaspoons baking powder
6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

For the Coconut Milk Bath:
2 (13.5-ounce) cans coconut milk
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

For the Topping
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup toasted sweetened coconut flakes


For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
1. Whisk flour and baking powder together in small bowl; set aside.
2. In large bowl, beat egg whites and salt with whisk attachment on medium-low speed until whites begin to loosen and froth, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat whites until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add egg yolks and beat just until combined. Decrease speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary. Add vanilla and beat just until combined. Fold in coconut with rubber spatula.
4. Scrape batter into ungreased 13- by 9-inch baking dish and smooth out top. Bake until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating cake halfway through baking. Transfer cake to cooling rack and cool in pan completely, 1 to 2 hours. Once cooled, poke cake all over with fork or skewer and run a paring knife along the edges just to separate the cake from the sides of the baking dish.

For the Coconut Milk Bath: Whisk coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream together in large bowl. Pour mixture evenly all over cake. It will look like too much liquid but the cake is meant to act like a sponge – if there is too much liquid, try lifting the cake from the pan and letting the liquid soak from underneath (my cake was actually floating in the milk bath – make sure it soaks evenly along the entire bottom of the cake). Transfer to refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours.

For the Topping:

To toast the coconut for the topping, arrange it in a single layer in a large baking sheet. Bake 5 to 10 minutes on the center rack of a preheated 350°F oven, stirring the coconut halfway through baking, until crisp and golden. Transfer baking sheet to cooling rack and cool coconut completely, about 15 minutes.

Whip heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread evenly over cake and sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes.


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