Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze

Tested & Perfected Recipes

A stunning tres leches cake with a rum-spiked dulce de leche glaze.

Tres Leches Cake

Popular in Latin America, tres leches cake or pastel de tres leches is a light and fluffy cake soaked with a mixture of three milks: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream (leche means milk in Spanish). It’s a homey cake served right from the baking pan and it has a consistency similar to bread pudding or custard.

In this version, rum is added to the soaking liquid and, instead of the traditional whipped cream topping, a simple rum-spiked dulce de leche glaze covers the cake (which, I guess, technically makes it a quatro leches cake). My husband calls it “heaven on earth.”

What You’ll Need to Make Tres Leches Cake

ingredients for tres leches cake

Before we get to the recipe, can I just tell you how many tres leches cakes I baked before arriving at this version? Eight! Finally, I found a recipe by pastry chef Nick Malgieri that was a spot-on. The key to his recipe? Using a chiffon batter for the base and cooling the cake upside-down. I jazzed up the recipe by adding rum and dulce de leche.

How To Make Tres Leches Cake

egg yolks, water, and oil in mixing bowl

Begin by combining the egg yolks, oil, water and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Whisk to blend.

whisked egg yolk mixture

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, part of the sugar, and the baking powder.

whisked dry ingredients

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.

egg and flour mixtures in bowl

Using an electric mixer, beat for one minute to aerate. Set aside.

beating egg and flour mixture

Next, combine the egg whites and salt in a clean, dry bowl and beat until foamy and soft peaks form (when you lift the beaters or whisk out of the bowl, the peaks will hold for a second and then melt back into themselves).

foamy egg whitesAdd the remaining sugar in a steady stream and beat the mixture until stiff peaks form. As you can see below, the mixture will be glossy, and when you lift the beaters or whisk out of the bowl, the peaks will point straight up with just a tiny droop at the top.

egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

Add the a quarter of the egg whites to the batter and stir to combine — this lightens the mixture making it easier to fold in the  remaining egg whites.

adding egg whites to batterFold in the remaining egg whites — this is just a gentle mixing method that helps the batter retain the volume of the beaten egg whites. It’s easy: use a large rubber spatula to cut down vertically through the two mixtures, then gently turn half the mixture over onto the other half. Continue cutting down the middle and turning a portion over. Don’t stir. The egg whites should be fully incorporated but only just so — try not to over mix.

tres leches batter in bowl

Transfer the batter to an ungreased 9 x 13 x 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish (do not use metal). It’s very important not to grease the pan; a chiffon cake needs to grip the sides of the pan to rise. And the cake needs to stick to the pan since it cools upside-down.

tres leches batter in pan ready to bake

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is set and golden.

baked tres leches cake

Let the cake settle for 1 to 2 minutes (you want it to deflate just a bit, so that the top of the cake is level with the rim of the baking dish). Invert 4 glasses onto the countertop and invert the cake pan onto them, positioning one in each corner of the pan. A chiffon cake needs to hang upside down to cool or it will collapse and fall.

tres leches cake cooling upside-down

Let the cake cool for about an hour, then flip it over and run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan. Poke it all over with a toothpick or skewer.

poking tres leches cake

Make the tres leches soaking liquid by combining the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and rum.

tres leches soaking liquid

Pour it slowly over the cake, allowing the cake to absorb the moisture as you go. Don’t rush this process or the liquid won’t be absorbed evenly.

pouring soaking liquid on cake

It’s helpful to tilt the pan slightly back and forth to help it absorb.

tilting baking dish to help liquid absorbRefrigerate the cake for at least eight hours or overnight to allow it to fully absorb the tres leches mixture. Then, prepare the topping by combining the dulce de leche, rum, and water in a bowl. Microwave it for about one minute so it’s easier to blend.

whisked dulce de leche glaze in mixing bowl

Spread the glaze over the chilled cake.

spreading dulce de leche glaze on cake

Make a pretty design by swirling the glaze with an offset spatula or butter knife.

finished tres leches cakeChill the cake until ready to serve.

Tres Leches Cake

More Cool, Creamy Dessert Recipes

Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze

A stunning tres leches cake with a rum-spiked dulce de leche glaze.

Servings: Twenty-four 2-inch squares
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Total Time: 9 Hours, plus 8 hours to chill in the fridge

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Soaking Mixture

  • 1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum

For the Glaze

  • 1 (13-oz) can dulce de leche, preferably Nestle
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and set a rack in the middle position.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, oil, water and vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder; mix on low speed for 20 seconds to combine. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat (start slow to combine then increase to medium for stand mixer/medium-high for hand mixer) for one minute to aerate it slightly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for just a few seconds more. Set aside.
  4. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and salt. Using the whisk attachment or beaters, whip the egg whites (on medium speed for a stand mixer/medium-high speed for a hand mixer) until they are white, foamy, and beginning to hold a very soft peak, 40 to 60 seconds. Increase the speed (medium-high for stand mixer/high for hand mixer) and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a slow stream. Continue whipping the mixture until it is shiny and holds stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Using a large rubber spatula, add 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the batter and mix thoroughly. Add the remaining egg whites to the lightened batter and gently fold until the batter is uniform. Do not over-mix. Scrape the batter into an ungreased 9x13-in glass or ceramic baking dish (do not use metal) and smooth the top (note that it's very important NOT to grease the pan). Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it is set and golden.
  6. Let the cake sit on the stovetop for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cake settles (you want it to deflate just slightly, so that the top of the cake is level with rim of the pan), then invert four glasses onto the countertop and invert the cake pan onto them, positioning one in each corner of the pan. (A chiffon cake needs to hang upside down to cool or it will collapse and fall.) Let cool for 1 hour.
  7. Once the cake has cooled, flip it over and run a sharp, thin-bladed knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the sides. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or point of a small, sharp knife at 1/2-in intervals.
  8. Prepare the soaking liquid: in a large bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and rum. Slowly pour or spoon the soaking liquid over the cake, tilting the pan every so often to help it absorb evenly. Be patient: this process takes about 10 minutes. If the cake is slow to absorb, run a knife around the edges of the cake again and poke a few more holes. Don't worry if it looks like a mess; it all gets covered with the glaze anyway. Place the cake in the refrigerator, uncovered, to chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  9. Once the cake has chilled, make the glaze: in a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the dulce de leche, rum and water. (Note: If you want a really boozy cake, change the proportions in the glaze to 3 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons rum). Heat for 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave to soften the dulce de leche, then whisk until completely smooth. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then spread over the cake, swirling artistically with an offset spatula or butter knife. Place the cake back in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with fresh fruit, if desired.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 234
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 34 g
  • Sugar: 27 g
  • Fiber: 0
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Sodium: 112 mg
  • Cholesterol: 41 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I made the cake the first time and it came out perfect. I made it again today and the cake did not rise to fill the pan. It was only halfway. What did I do wrong? Also, the egg white mixture does not look white and fluffy like your picture. When I add the sugar, it stays the same color. Why?

    • — Angelica on August 14, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Angelica, sorry you had a problem with the cake this time! You mentioned that your egg white mixture doesn’t look white and fluffy like mine. That definitely can cause issues as that mixture adds lightness to the cake and helps it to rise. And did you by any chance grease the baking dish? (If you do, it keeps this kind of cake from rising fully.) Last, did you make any adjustments to the recipe this time around?

      • — Jenn on August 15, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi!! Can i use brandy instead of rum???

    • — Colomba Thomas on July 19, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Colomba — hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 19, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I was searching for a moist banana cake when I came across your wonderful website and sticky toffee banana cake. I have now made that about 5 times to rave reviews. Just off the back of that, I have ordered your cookbook which should arrive tomorrow, fingers crossed. I am currently looking to make this delicious looking tres leche cake but as it’s just me and hubby and it looks like a lot, could I halve the recipe and use a 21 x 21cm pyrex glass dish? If yes, any suggestions how I can adjust baking time? I live in the UK hence the measurement in cm. Many Thanks.

    P.S: I often find myself just reading your recipes like a novel, at this stage, hubby may have to pry the cookbook from my hands when it arrives.

    • — Nenny on May 14, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Nenny, so glad you enjoyed the sticky toffee banana cake enough to order the cookbook! I do think you could halve the tres leches cake and use a 21 and use a 21 x 21-cm dish. The cake may take a few minutes longer in the oven but keep a very close eye on it. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 15, 2019
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jenn, I will give this a try this weekend. If I do decide that we should make absolute pigs of ourselves and use a 33 x 23 cm dish, if it fair to assume a porcelain one will work? The cookbook has arrived, happy days 😋

        • — Nenny on May 16, 2019
        • Reply
        • Should, Nenny, porcelain should work. Thanks so much for purchasing the cookbook! ❤️

          • — Jenn on May 16, 2019
          • Reply
  • Made this for a Cinco de Mayo dinner and it was amazing. I will have to say that when I got ready to put the topping on this morning I added the rum and was adding the water but thought it looked like too much. I only added about two tablespoons and still couldn’t swirl it after chilling it. I would only add maybe one tablespoon rum and one tablespoon water and microwave at most for fifteen seconds. It tasted wonderful so thanks for the recipe!

    • — Linda Harden on May 5, 2019
    • Reply
  • HI Jen,
    I baked my cake for the amount of time, it looked beautiful. I let it cool for the 1-2 minutes, turned it over to cool, and the whole middle of the cake fell out. What did I do wrong?

    • — Denise LaBarre on May 4, 2019
    • Reply
    • Oh no, Denise! I’m so sorry you had trouble. What type of pan did you use? Was it greased?

      • — Jenn on May 4, 2019
      • Reply
      • I used a glass pan, not greased. I did test the cake with toothpick which came out clean. I read that sponge cakes can be a bit fussy.

        As a side note, I love your recipes! The berry trifle is a big hit whenever I take it to a gathering.

        • — Denise LaBarre on May 4, 2019
        • Reply
        • Yes, they can be a bit fussy. Typically issues with cooling/falling are the result of making substitutions, the cake being underbaked (the wet batter makes the cake heavier and prone to falling), or the pan being greased. Hopefully you were able to salvage it; luckily, this cake gets soaked and covered with frosting, so no one will know!

          • — Jenn on May 4, 2019
          • Reply
          • This literally just happened to me, too! I think I’ll have to cover the entire thing with whipped cream to hide the mess.

            • — Erin on May 4, 2019
  • Hi Jenn, Can you substitute butter for the oil?

    • — Jeana Gutierrez on May 3, 2019
    • Reply
    • I don’t recommend it, Jeana – sorry!

      • — Jenn on May 3, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi! I would love to make this for an upcoming Cinco de Mayo Party. Are there any changes I need to make since I live at 7300 feet above sea level? Thanks!

    • — Karen Campbell on April 18, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Karen, Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience baking at high altitudes so I don’t have any wisdom to share but you might find these tips from King Arthur helpful.

      • — Jenn on April 20, 2019
      • Reply
  • I made this cake using a hand blender, followed all the directions, except substituted dark rum with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons rum extract for the cake and 1/2 tablespoon for the topping. I inverted the cake with no problem … It came out perfect n delicious. One question, how long do I cool the cake before the soaking?

    • — MaryEllen Fonseca on January 27, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi MaryEllen, It should take about 1 hour; have updated the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 29, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi jenn, Why doesn’t the soaking mixture soak very well even if I added 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream?

    • — Fanny on December 14, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Fanny, Did you let it sit for a few minutes so it could absorb? If it’s slow to absorb into the cake, you can run a knife around the cakes’ edges again and poke a few more holes on top.

      • — Jenn on December 18, 2018
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn,
        I 1st made this without the rum & it was deeelish! The next time I included the rum although it was light rum & I do believe you have a WINNER here. The rum was exactly what it needed for that extra little kick of flavor!! I have some bourbon i thought about trying but not sure how the flavor may be. Will let you know if i do try it that way.
        Thanks for all the recipes you share & willingness to share your knowledge when someone has a question.

        • — Sheri Cofer on April 11, 2019
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!

    I have made Tres Leches multiple times but with boxed cake mix. This time, I wanted to try it from scratch. I have a Classic Mixer 4.5q. When I added the eggs, vanilla, water, and oil to the dry mixture, it did not liquify! It was more doughy than a typical mix. Can you please tell me where I went wrong? All my measurements were correct. I finished baking the cake but it was just a mess and it was very thin and spongy and I doubt that’s how its supposed to be!

    Will try again this morning. Thank you!

    • — Nels M on December 11, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Nels, I’m sorry to hear you had such a problem with this! Although you said you measured carefully, I’m wondering if you inadvertently made a measuring mistake somewhere along the way. (Some people have had a challenge with cooling the cake as it needs to be inverted, but I haven’t heard any complaints about the batter not liquifying.) You said you were going to try it again — How did it turn out?

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2018
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn!

        The second time around the cake was great! I had measured everything out, but you’re right – I might’ve made a small mistake somewhere. Either way, it came out great and tasted a lot like the Dominican version of tres leches (my favorite!). Will definitely make a chiffon cake in the future 🙂

        • — Nels M on December 16, 2018
        • Reply
  • Hi, Jenn,

    I haven’t tasted the cake yet, but it looked and smelled perfect–until I added my glaze! I wanted to share my experience in case anyone else out there was thinking of subbing out the rum.

    I made my own dulce de leche with the stovetop method and a can of sweetened condensed milk, and used water as was recommended as a substitute for the rum (since the birthday girl doesn’t like rum), but didn’t realize how thinned out the dulce de leche would end up. I used the same amount of water as was called for rum (1/4 c. + 1 T.), but definitely should have used less. I idiotically poured on the dulce de leche “glaze” anyway, thinking it would magically thicken…somehow…but, uh, no. Now my mom’s birthday cake is sitting in a pool of beige-y sauce. I’m betting this will be too sweet (and mushy). It might have been that my dulce de leche was already too thin? Now trying to figure out how to rebrand this cake (quattro de leche?) and cover up the rather unattractive top…

    I would definitely try this again, but with much less water for the glaze.

    • — Lynn on November 9, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi jenn
    I sorry for a lot of questions.
    If i make 2 9×2 inches is going to be tha same process.I thinking how to put together 2 layers?

    • — Fanny on October 16, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Fanny, I wouldn’t recommend making this into a layer cake – with the soaking liquid it has, I think you’ll have a big mess on your hands – sorry!

      • — Jenn on October 17, 2018
      • Reply
  • Jenn, First thank for share your recipes they are the best I made tres leches cake it was delicious. I want to make another one but I only have fine cake flour can I use this? Thanks

    • — Fanny on October 16, 2018
    • Reply
    • Glad you like this cake, Fanny! Yes, cake flour will work here.

      • — Jenn on October 16, 2018
      • Reply
  • Can i use RUM less or more 3 TBSP FOR THE SOAKING MIXTURE.

    • — Fanny on October 5, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure Fanny, just compensate with more or less heavy cream.

      • — Jenn on October 8, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    Can i use this recipe for 12×2 in heart pan.

    • — Fanny on September 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Yes, I think that should work with no changes, Fanny. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi, quick clarification…do you refrigerate the cake first overnight then the next day put the dulce de leche topping?

    • — Victoria Aquino on September 24, 2018
    • Reply
    • Yes, it should be refrigerated for at least 8 hours before you spread the glaze on top. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on September 25, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, do you think I can make this 2 days ahead? And then glaze with dulce de Leche before serving? Basically, can it soak for too long?

    • — Erin on May 11, 2018
    • Reply
    • Two days ahead is fine, Erin. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on May 12, 2018
      • Reply
  • If Kahlua were to be used instead of rum would the amount of sugar in the recipe need to be changed? And would the Dulce de Leche pair well with it or would a whipped cream topping be better?

    • — Neiha on May 9, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Neiha, I think you could replace the rum with Kahlua without making any other changes. I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on May 10, 2018
      • Reply
  • With the poking holes in the cake of the Tre de leche cake, I had to laugh because it looked like you have used an electric drill to do it!! Go girl!!

    • — Dianne Hunter on May 9, 2018
    • Reply
    • Ha! Hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 9, 2018
      • Reply
  • What can I use if i can’t find dulce de leche

    • — Tonya on May 5, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Tonya, you can actually make your own dulce de leche with sweetened condensed milk. You can find a simple recipe here. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 6, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi, Jenn,
    First, I am loving your new cookbook! I wish I could attend your cooking demo on Saturday, but I am 3,000 miles away 🙂

    Second, this cake recipe looks amazing! I have all ingredients except Rum. Do you think Grand Marnier will be a satisfactory substitute? Third, I have a hand mixer with a turbo boost-like feature, which I occasionally use with a deep mixing bowl (because things tend to fly otherwise). Do you think if I use that feature when mixing it will allow me to cool the cake upside down? If not, I will cool it right side up. I also can try the upside down method with a cooking rack underneath it like someone else mentioned doing.

    Tonight I will be making your Chicken Marsala for dinner 🙂

    • — Laura on May 3, 2018
    • Reply
    • So glad you’re enjoying the cookbook, Laura – thanks so much for buying it!!
      Regarding the cake, it’s fine to use a hand mixer and I think placing the cooling rack underneath it sounds like a good “insurance policy.”
      (And I think Brandy would be a better choice than Grand Marnier.) Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • This is an absolute winner in my circle. My husband is my biggest critic and each time I make this, he licks the tray clean so much so that this is now his birthday cake tradition. I like this version a lot more to Nick Malgieri’s specifically because of the dulce leche topping and overall the cake tastes absolutely delicious. I will also add, people take my baking skills more seriously since I started baking this recipe:D So thank you very much Jenn.

    • — Tanya on March 1, 2018
    • Reply
  • Can I use milk instead of water? Also, can I replace rum with almond or vanilla extract?

    • — Eileen on February 28, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Eileen, Are you referring to using milk in the cake or the glaze? And regarding the rum, no need to substitute extract; you can leave it out of the soaking liquid, and just substitute water in the glaze.

      • — Jenn on March 1, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Can i add cream of tartar to help the egg whites fluff some more if i am using a handmixer? will it affect the taste? 🙂

    • — Jessica Anne Tolentino on February 15, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Jessica, Yes, I think you could – hope it turns out well!

      • — Jenn on February 16, 2018
      • Reply
  • This was a awesome cake! I have a stand mixer and had no issues with preparation. I baked for 38 minutes. After reading the reviews where the cake fell out of the pan I decided to cool the cake with the hopes of saving it if it fell. I still used the four glasses but placed a wire cooling rack on top of my cake and then flipped it and set on the glasses. Thankfully mine didn’t fall. The wire rack does not touch the cake. I will bake this same cake in the future and vary the topping. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • — Bobbi Sherman on January 9, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hello Jenn, Is it possible to replace the rum with Irish cream or brandy?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Malak, I think brandy would work here. Enjoy!

  • I made this cake years ago and had no problems, came out perfectly, loved by everyone. Made it again last night; the cake dropped out of the overturned pan. Were my eggs too cold? Was it because I used AP flour? I tried again this morning with eggs left on the counter overnight and unbleached cake flour. Cake fell out of the overturned pan again! My pan was ungreased and I timed everything to the second. Not sure why I’m having such bad luck. The cake was a special request for my sister’s birthday but looks like I will have to make something else. I’m so sad!

    • Oh no– so sorry you had that experience twice! Sometimes a chiffon can fall out of the pan if the cake is under-baked. If you want to try again, increase the baking time a bit.

  • Can an enamel pan be used or does it have to be glass?

    • Hi Ursula, enamel will work here as well. Enjoy!

  • Can the Tres Leches cake be frozen? Thank you, Dinah

    • I don’t think it’d freeze well, Dinah. Sorry!

  • Would it be all right to use a 13 x 9 stoneware dish as I don’t have a Pyrex one?

    • Yes, that’d be fine, Ana. Enjoy!

      • Can I use olive oil instead ? Thank you

        • — Galia on September 18, 2019
        • Reply
        • I don’t recommend olive oil here, Galia – sorry!

          • — Jenn on September 19, 2019
          • Reply
    • Yes, Jessica, a normal baking dish will work fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 7, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi,
    Baked this for my dads birthday…a big hit again…thanks for the lovely recipe.

  • is the topping made with a tin of caramel? never heard of the ingredient you say to use but the picture on the can looks like caramel. (Cape Town, South Africa)

    • Hi Meredyth, I would think that you could find Dulce de Leche in South Africa, but if not, you may be able to get away with caramel if you think it will work as part of a glaze.

    • Hello Meredyth! If you can’t find already prepared Dulce de Leche, try your hand at making some at home. It’s easy! The basics: place a can of “sweet condensed milk” in a heavy pot and cover it with 2 inches of water, simmer it for 2.5 hours (add water if necessary), let it cool down completely, open to find a pot of deliciousness. A quick internet search will give you a more detailed explanation. I make mine on the stove but it can be done in a slow cooker too. Enjoy!

    • Hi Meredyth – you can find a can of caramel next to the condensed milk in any Pick n Pay. Enjoy!

  • A BIG BIG THANK YOU. I baked this for my husbands birthday and he loved it (he does not like sweet things). I was over the moon. I think it deserves way over 5 stars. I have also tried your Rosemary Focaccia and Apple cake..all fantastic..Will definitely try more. Thanks a ton for making his birthday special.

  • A great recipe. My cake still turned out a little domed on the top, though, so some of the soaking liquid went to the sides and the cake ended up not soaking very evenly, with a dry cake middle. Any suggestions for next time?

    • Hi Melinda, often times doming on a cake is due to uneven heat distribution in the baking pan. You could try damp cake strips like these – I’ve used them with success for more professional looking cakes. Also, if you spoon the soaking liquid gradually over the cake, you can make sure it distributes more evenly.

  • I got rave reviews when I first baked this cake! Thanks!

  • Did you sift the flour before or after you measured?

    • Hi Jojo, the flour doesn’t need to be sifted here. (Most flours are now pre-sifted.)

  • Hi, I love the idea of this cake, but unfortunately I am gluten intolerant. If I was to make this with gluten free plain flour, is there any alterations I should do? Add xanthan gum gum? if so any recommendations on how much to add in or any other tips etc? I look forward to trying this recipe as I have made your coconut macaroons recipe many times and love them.

    • Hi Mia, Im glad you like the meringues! Although I haven’t tried the tres leches this way, I suspect you could use an all purpose gluten-free baking mix instead of the flour. I like this one. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you prepare it!

  • hi. is the oven temperature 325 fan or conventional. trying to convert to UK temperatures.

    thanks

    • Hi Francis, I’m assuming when you say “fan,” that you’re referring to a convection oven. All of my recipes are tested and based on using a conventional oven, not one with a fan. Hope that helps!

      • thanks for the quick and great reply to my question.

  • The cake tested good but the milk was only absorbed by the bottom of cake and the upper part was dry although I left it for a night .

    • That’s strange as this should be so most all the way though. Did you use a 9″ x 13″ pan?

  • Hi, Jenn

    It looks so yummy — I can’t wait to try the recipe. I am going to a party this Fri and I don’t have time to bake the cake on Thurs. is it ok it I bake the cake on Wed and let it soak for 2 night? Thanks!

    Helen

    • Hi Helen, Sure- the cake will keep nicely for up to 3 – 4 days in the fridge. Enjoy!

  • Dare I ask the calorie count and nutritional info for this lovely recipe?

    • It’s actually not as bad as you might think :). I just added all the nutritional for it to the recipe.

  • Calorie count?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Christy, I just added all the nutritional information to the recipe. (Each 2 inch square is 234 calories.) Enjoy!

  • Hands down the BEST Tres Leches cake ever! Have made it many times and it is always perfect. I follow the recipe exactly and have received more compliments than I can count. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Let me start by saying I am born and raised Mexican from Mexico City where we eat Tres Leches cake and it is found pretty much every where you go. . . I have made this recipe twice and it is amazingly delicious! It was my dad’s favorite cake and I wanted to try to make it to remember him as he passed away two years ago. I will be making this cake every year and my family and friends are thankful for it.

    For those like me who might be having a hard time finding Dulce de Leche already canned, here is what I had to do since I live in Japan and cannot find it.

    I put a can of condense milk in a pressure cooker, once it has started to release steam, continue to cook for 45 minutes, let cool down on its own and take out the can carefully to continue to cool down, and that is all it is to it, there is your homemade dulce de leche.

    Do not let anything get on the way to make this fabulous recipe.

    Thank you Jenn

  • Hi Jenn – greetings from Sydney !
    I made this once and it turned out fab ! Just wondering if you have tried making 2 of these cakes and layering them? Am wondering if the top layer might be too heavy and squish the bottom layer? Thanks so much
    P

    • Hi Paul, Glad you enjoyed it. I like that idea but not sure how you would remove the cakes from the pan to stack them. I think they would fall apart. Sorry!

  • Made this for a friend who loves Tres Leches and it was a huge hit!!

  • Ack, I’m about to make the tres leches part, but there’s no rum in the house. I know you’ve said we can leave out the rum, but I do have tequila, triple sec, kahlua, grenadine – would any of those work as substitutes or am I better off leaving out the alcohol?

    • Hi Jenny, I think Kahlua would be wonderful 🙂

  • I made the tres Leches Cake for the first time last week. Couldn’t find the Nestles brand ( I am in Canada) but used Eagle Brand. Everything was fine until I put the caramel glaze on top. refrigerated for 5 hours, and when I removed from fridge, much of the glaze had seeped into the cake, with little left on top!

    • Hi Cathy, That is very odd. I wish I could offer an explanation but I’m not sure why that happened. I’ve never used the Eagle brand — perhaps it isn’t as thick?

      • I had the same problem, The cake turned out perfect but then the dulce leeched straight through the whole cake. I used homemade dulce, which may be thinner than store-bought. I’m going to try again without adding water to the dulce and letting it chill cooler than room temp before topping it on. At least it tasted great!

  • Does the rum dissipate? My partner is a recovering alcoholic so I must be careful. Thanks!

    • Hi Dawn, It doesn’t since it’s not cooked — it is perfectly fine to just leave it out. The cake will still be wonderful 🙂

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really enjoyed the way you made these recepies so easy to follow. Great taste of finished product.

  • Good easy simple to learn thank you

  • I have never left a comment for any recipe ever, but I had to thank you for this one. I made this for my daughter’s birthday. She wanted a dulce de leche cake and I didn’t have the first clue how to go about it. I made it exactly as per your instructions. No changes. The result was exactly what you said it would be. Really light but moist, flavorful and rum tinged. Just perfect. My daughter, the foodie, said it was absolutely the best cake ever!

    Thank you Jenn for testing and re-testing so that we don’t have to do the work. You now have my trust, I will be trying more of your recipes.

    One question though, there is a lot of cake, can it be frozen? If so what do you recommend? Should I slice it first and freeze individually?

    • So glad you enjoyed the cake! To be honest, I probably wouldn’t freeze the cake after it has been soaked. (Next time, you could freeze some of the cake before soaking it though.) That said, it will keep well in the fridge for several days.

  • My cake turned out awesome! I made it yesterday and topped it this morning. I had a piece for breakfast – I mean, I HAD to test it before the cookout later – and it was just fantastic. I did the entire cake using my electric hand mixer. I used unbleached all-purpose flour, my eggs were room temperature, and I timed the mixing of the dry and wet ingredients on my phone to exactly 1 minute on medium speed. I carefully folded the egg whites into the batter and was so cautious I probably under combined the two. The cake rose beautifully and after letting it rest for 2 minutes, I carefully turned it over. It did not fall out of the pan. I’m wondering if the people who had trouble may have accidentally greased the pan?

  • This was absolutely delicious!

  • Hi! Is it possible to whisk the eggs with a paddle/spatula by hand as I don’t have this attachment (I only have an electric hand whisk)? And also I live in the UK – do you know whether I should use plain flour or self raising flour? Thank you!

    • Hi Emily, I would go ahead and use your electric hand whisk, and definitely use plain flour. Hope you enjoy!

    • Self rising flour already had baking powder in it. So if you use self rising flour omit the baking powder.

  • Do you have a version of this for cupcakes? Would it be crazy to try this recipe in a cupcake pan? Thanks!

    • Hi Tammy, Unfortunately, I don’t have a cupcake version — and this recipe won’t work for cupcakes. Sorry!!

  • I love how clear your instructions are! Makes it so easy to get it right the first time… Loved this cake!

  • THIS CAKE IS JUST SO TASTY AND A DREAM COME TRUE FOR THE PALATE!!! I made it for the first time at a dinner I was organizing for some friends and they just ADORED it! So thank you Jenn for your incomparable talent and thanks to Argentina for this wonderful idea of “dulce de leche”! FELICIDADES! 6 stars!

  • Thank you!!! Tres leches is my favorite cake, but all of the recipes I had found seemed so complicated. Yours seemed simple enough, so I did it and wow!!! Amazing!!! I will no longer be paying $7 for a small square of tres leches as I will be making my own! Thank you very much!

  • I don’t have a paddle attachment for my mixer. Is it OK to mix using another attachment or manually with a spatula?

    • Hi Christina, Unfortunately, you need the paddle or beaters. This is a finicky recipe; for what it’s worth, you can order replacement attachments easily online.

  • Heyy!i really want to try this recipe but i cant use rum.please please is there a non-alcoholic substitute.would appreciate it a lot!:D

    • Hi Sam, It’s no problem at all to just omit the rum — it will still be delicious.

  • This recipe was amazing! I followed the directions exactly and I love how clear instructions are. I was looking for a dulce de leche cake but when I found one with 3 milks, I was impressed. Thank you for such a wonderful dessert my family loves

  • This is the best Tres Leches cake I’ve ever tasted. I made it for a dinner party and got rave reviews. The next day my husband and I finished it off…The dulce de leche is such a perfect addition (especially with the rum!)

  • And another question: I have a fan-assisted oven, so is the heating time temperature going to be the same? If not, what formula should I apply?

    • Hi Koko, It should be about the same.

  • Love the recipe! Since dulce de leche is not available in my country.. And I don’t like the sound of cream frosting, so.. Would chocolate frosting go with this recipe?

    • Koko, Chocolate frosting will be fine, as long as it’s light – you don’t want anything too heavy for this cake.

  • You can make your own dulce de leche very easily. Fully submerge one can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (label revmoved) in a pot of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at low boil for about 90 minutes. Make sure you have enough water in the pot so it will not boil down to nothing and milk will remain underwater the whole time. Carefully remove the can from the water and let cool for about 5 minutes. Open and enjoy! This works, I’ve tried it!! Much easier than standing over a hot stove and making sure the milks don’t scorch. This should be refrigerated and will last 7-10 days in the fridge. YUM!

  • Looks delish! But shouldn’t the 8 hours of overnight chilling be added to the total time? Otherwise misleading at first look.

  • I must say, this is an amazing cake. I have celiac disease and cannot eat wheat, so the only changes I made were using my go-to brown rice flour mix instead of the cake flour (cup for cup) and adding a third of a teaspoon of xanthan gum. The entire cake had a delightful texture and the rum gave a nice touch to the finished product. Like some of your other readers noted, I was also unable to find dulce de leche at the store due to living in the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming. I used my favorite and easy recipe by David Lebovitz. After making this for the first time last week I am already craving this cake again so another one it’s currently in the oven. Keep up the great work!

  • This recipe is a bit different than the one I’ve used previously but I followed it to the letter and it was a big hit!

  • hi! I was wondering if I could make this without the rum? thank you!

    • Hi Hannah, Yes it’s fine to leave it out.

  • I have been searching for the perfect tres leches recipe and now I’ve found it. The cake was like pudding and the glaze was over the top. Definitely a “keeper.” 🙂

  • This cake was easy to make and a huge hit at our Mexican-themed summer BBQ. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

  • I am not a usually baker, but was inspired to make the cake because it was an interesting alternative for a birthday. The cake was relatively easy to prepare and it exceeded my expectations! IMHO the rum added depth of flavor that was missing in the many other versions I have tried. I would not change a thing. I really appreciate your clear instructions and thoughful photos. Keep up the great work! Any chance you have a flan recipe up your sleeve for Cinco De Mayo?

  • You had me at the glaze. What a wonderful version of tres leches!

  • We live in Austin and everyone loves Tres Leches. I gave this recipe a try, and the cake was spot-on, however the soaking liquid was very sweet compared to those authentic versions I have sampled around Texas. I did omit the rum glaze because I knew my kids would not like the taste and just made a “frosting” from a pint of heavy cream (whipped) and a 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. So that could have changed the taste of all of the components. Overall this is a recipe worth sharing.

    • Hi Amy, This is definitely a sweet cake, but you could cut back on the sweetness a bit by adding more heavy cream to the soaking liquid (use a cup total). If you try that, you won’t use all the soaking liquid, but it won’t be quite as sweet. You could also use less powdered sugar in the topping.

  • Can you substitute something else for the rum

    • Hi JoAnn, You can leave it out of the soaking liquid, and just substitute water in the glaze.

  • I tried this cake this week and it was very delicious. I decided to make this for my grandchildren because it will make you just keep eating it and eating it which they would love.

  • Oh wow this looks good! Any idea how long it’ll keep & should I keep it in the fridge or air-tight container?

    • Hi Gill, It lasts for three or four days in the fridge. Hope you enjoy!

  • You can find it on the international section and sometimes it is named as “cajeta”

  • Oh my! Can’t wait for the weekend to try this recipe. I grew up in South America and even though didn’t grow up with tres leches cake, it totally reminds me of home because cakes there are often served right out of the pan like this. Plus the dulce de leche touch looks delicious!

  • I can’t find a can of dulce de leche as shown in the picture. What should I use as a substitute?

    Thanks for your wonderful recipes.

    Dorothy Kramer

    • Hi Dorothy, You can top the cake with sweetened whipped cream instead — it’s the traditional topping.

  • You did it again, found a great recipe, that Im anxious to try. Usually when I make Dulce de Leche I put an unopened can of Sweetened Condensed Milk in a pot of boiling water (make sure the can is covered in water) and boil the can for 45minutes to one hour.
    Remove the can, but do not open it until cool, or the content being under pressure could shoot up into your face and cause a nasty burn. Just make sure it is cool before opening, and you have perfect dulce de leche.
    As a tres Leches fan, I look forward to trying your recipe.

  • I have a go to tres leches recipe too which is less involved in that you don’t separate the eggs, however, I may try adding the rum to the milk mixture next time and try this frosting instead of the whipped cream I usually make. Thank you for this new twist. My recipe is actually a Martha Stewart one. I have even frozen it for about a month , with whipped topping on it and it is just as good after defrosting.

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