This Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake is soaked with evaporated coconut milk & sweetened condensed coconut milk to make a dairy-free version of this classic Latin American dessert. The paleo vanilla sponge cake is deliciously moist and topped with whipped coconut cream. It is dairy-free with a vegan option. Thanks to Nature’s Charm for sponsoring this post!
I remember eating Tres Leches Cake during my childhood, usually on special days like Easter and Christmas, and always at my grandparent’s house. It was one of my favorites. What’s not to love about a rich, dense cake that’s loaded with three milks?!
If you don’t speak Spanish, “Tres Leches” translates to “Three Milks,” so this is the Three Milks Cake! It’s a popular Latin American dessert. Although it’s origins aren’t known, the cake gained lots of popularity after the recipe was printed on the back of a can of Nestle’s evaporated milk in the 1960s.
Traditionally, it’s made with a rich yellow sponge cake that is sturdy enough to hold up to the soaking. Then, the baker pokes the cake all over with LOTS of holes. Then, they mix up a combination of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream to poured all over the top. It soaks in the fridge for a few hours before it’s covered with whipped cream and served.
It’s a very dairy-heavy cake, as you can tell, and certainly not gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan. But, it’s one of my favorites. I became determined to make a version that was dairy-free, gluten-free, and just as delicious.
So, how do you make dairy-free & gluten-free Tres Leches Cake?!
First, we make the cake! This cake recipe makes a rich yellow sponge cake. It uses a combination of flours – almond flour, tapioca flour, and coconut flour – to create the ideal texture of soft but also firm enough to stand up to the soaking.
The cake itself isn’t too sweet, so it’s perfectly balanced when we pour the milk mixture over the top. The recipe is vegan-optional. The cake recipe below calls for eggs, and I found that version to have the best texture. But! Flax eggs (or your other favorite egg replacer) also work if you want a vegan version of this recipe – the cake will just be slightly denser.
Now, for the Tres Leches topping!
We make a dairy-free and vegan mixture of the three milks for this cake, making it totally dairy-free. The key is using a few amazing coconut milk products from Nature’s Charm! We use evaporated coconut milk, sweetened condensed coconut milk, and coconut whipping cream here. These will make our dairy-free and gluten-free tres leches cake dreams come true!
For the soaking milk mixture, we whisk together some of Nature’s Charm evaporated coconut milk with their sweetened condensed coconut milk. Once mixed, we pour it over the well-poked cake. After a stint in the fridge, we whip up the coconut whipping cream and spread it all over the cake.
Garnish with some fresh fruit, like I did, or whatever else your heart desires. When your fork cuts through the whipped coconut cream and coconut milk-soaked cake, you’ll be in bliss! The resulting gluten-free Tres Leches Cake is light but also decadent, with such rich flavors and a soft, spongy texture. The chilled cake is the perfect dessert for spring and summer get-togethers, or anytime you’re craving a swoon-worthy cake. Enjoy!
Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake
- 2 cups (192g) blanched almond flour
- ½ cup (57g) tapioca flour
- ½ cup (65g) coconut flour
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup dairy-free milk I used almond milk, warmed slightly
- ¼ cup (50g) melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup (84g) pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 large eggs room temperature, replace with flax eggs for vegan version
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and lightly grease an 8x8” square baking pan with coconut oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut sugar, tapioca flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk thoroughly. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dairy-free milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, eggs, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract.
- Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
- Pour into the pan and spread the batter evenly.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed with a fingertip. Let cool completely.
- Once cool, use a skewer, toothpicks or a fork to make LOTS of holes in the top of the cake. When you think you have enough, make more! You want the milk to really soak into the cake and if you don’t have enough holes, it will only soak into the top layer.
- In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the evaporated coconut milk and sweetened condensed coconut milk. Pour evenly over the cake, spreading as necessary to the edges.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours.
- When you’re ready to serve, whip the Coconut Whipping Cream according to the directions on the can and spread evenly over the cake. You can also do this before you put it in the fridge, but I find the whipped coconut cream is best freshly whipped.
- Garnish with fresh strawberries (or any other fresh fruit) and serve!
For the vegan version, replace the eggs with flax eggs. To make three flax eggs, combine 3 tablespoons of flax meal with ½ cup water. Whisk together and let gel for 10 minutes before using.
So many thanks to Nature’s Charm for sponsoring this post! Thank you, readers, for supporting the brands that allow me to continue to run this site and share delicious recipes with you!