Salted Caramel Tres Leche Cake

Do you ever find a recipe that looks amazing, but you don’t want to make it because it has too many calories? I have a stack of them. I’ve resolved to only make them if the food will be removed from the premises (read: potluck).

Here is one such recipe: Tres Leche Cake. Apparently it’s a popular cake in Latin America and typically includes three milks: sweetened condensed, evaporated, and whole milk or heavy cream, which are poured onto a hot, dense cake. The trouble is that the milk and whipping cream require refrigeration. I wanted a dish which could be served at a buffet away from refrigeration for a time.

The quest began…

I stumbled upon this Dulche De Leche cupcake recipe and I liked the idea of a caramel sauce. Then I saw the coconut milk! Aha, that could be milk no. 3, which could replace the whole milk. And in a pinch, I can use non-dairy topping. The refrigeration problem was solved and it still had three milks — tres, not dos! Woot!

Finally, I decided to play up salted caramel. I wanted it to be reminiscent of my favorite Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from that one coffee place. The salted caramel sauce is both poured onto the cake and spread on the cooled cake for an extra caramel kick. Finally it’s topped with a whipped cream layer and sprinkled with crushed Werther’s Original Hard Candies.

The result is a caramel-infused, nutty, sweet, dense, moist, buttery cake with a hint of salt.

Funny part is some handsome guy thinks I’m taking orders and has already requested it as next year’s birthday cake! Guess this one won’t leave the premises.

Salted Caramel Sauce


(c=cup, T=tablespoon, t=teaspoon)
1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 c (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 t kosher salt
2 T butter (not unsalted)


1. Whisking coconut milk, sugar, and coarse salt in heavy large skillet over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
2. Clip on candy thermometer. Once dissolved, increase heat to medium-high and boil until mixture reaches 220 degrees F, stirring occasionally.
3. Once at 220 degrees, immediately add butter (in slices), stir to incorporate. The temperature will decrease. Cook sauce until back up to 220 degrees.
4. Remove from heat and quickly pour into an heat-proof bowl. Set aside to cool. Cool completely.
The caramel sauce will be divided: 1 cup to pour over cake and remainder for a middle caramel layer.

Tres Leche Cake


(c=cup, T=tablespoon, t=teaspoon)
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled, plus more for baking dish
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t coarse salt
5 large eggs
1 c sugar, divided
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 c pre-made Salted Caramel Sauce
2 c heavy cream (I use Cool Whip if its being served away from refrigeration)
1 (5.5 oz) bag of Wether’s Original Hard Candy (crushed)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and 3/4 cup sugar on high until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. With a rubber spatula, fold in (cooled) melted butter until incorporated. Transfer batter to dish and bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating dish halfway through. (If you use a metal baking pan, keep a close eye on the cake — it will be done in about half the time.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed, evaporated milk and 1 cup of caramel sauce. Poke warm cake all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick, then pour milk mixture over top and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  3. Once cool, gently spread the remaining caramel sauce (2/3 cup) on the cake. Chill in refrigerator.
  4. Whip cream and 1/4 cup sugar to medium peaks. Spread whipped cream evenly over cooled cake. (If using Cool Whip, spread over the caramel sauce). Chill.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle crushed candies on top.
2 Responses to “Salted Caramel Tres Leche Cake”
  1. Note: For the original recipe, I used “A Taste of Thai” coconut milk (yellow label) which yielded more caramel than when I used “Thai Kitchen” (red label). This might have to do with a difference in amount of fat?

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] brought another opportunity to share the 11- pounds. Cherry dessert anyone? I chose to modify my Salted Caramel Tres Leche Cake to a cherry version, using the Fresh Cherry Sauce. Pretty […]

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