Chocolate Milk Is Your Secret For A Game Changing Tres Leches Cake

Creamy, moist, delightfully milky tres leches cake is a fixture on tables across Latin America and beyond. Tres leches means "three milks," and usually relies on a soak of evaporated, sweetened condensed, and whole milk or cream poured on top of a single layer of moist cake. The typical understated vanilla, cinnamon, or almond notes and straightforward whipped cream or meringue topping are classic for a reason, but the dairy provides a great avenue for getting creative with your dessert.

Using chocolate milk is a super fun way to jazz up your favorite tres leches. Start with a cake with a light and airy crumb for tres leches cake that is saturated but not soggy. Then, all you have to do is switch out the regular milk or cream for chocolate milk. This can be a one-to-one swap, but keep in mind that chocolate milk will be sweeter, so you may want to cut back on the sugar in the topping for balance. 

A shaving of super dark chocolate or a dusting of plain cocoa powder can provide a pleasant bitterness to offset the extra sweetness. And if you prefer to keep it a bit more traditional, whipped cream with cocoa powder or even whipped chocolate ganache provides even more creaminess.

More ways to switch up the milk in tres leches

If you really want to double down on the chocolate vibe in your tres leches, opt for a chocolate cake base instead of the usual yellow. Make a mocha version by incorporating a little instant coffee powder in the soak, or go for a boozy take by adding some Kahlua. Starting with this spiced Mexican hot chocolate cake recipe would be a particularly exciting riff.

Strawberry or banana milk would be fun choices to combine with chocolate or yellow cake. You can make your own banana milk by blending the fruit with plain milk and optional sugar and vanilla. Reinforce the flavors by covering the top with sliced, fresh berries or bananas. Coconut milk could also take your tres leches in a fruity direction. Top it off with lots of toasted coconut, or compliment the flavor with tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, or papaya.

Are you dairy intolerant? Nut milks can do your tres leches right. They do have less fat than dairy, so expect a slightly less rich finished product, but the subtle flavors can be delicious. Try almond, cashew, hazelnut, or walnut milk, and finish the cake with more nuts. Pistachio milk would be decadent, especially if you swirl a little pistachio butter into the whipped cream.