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Pineapple and Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Pineapple and Coconut Tres Leches Cake has wonderful Caribbean-inspired flavors infused into this delicious cake. Go ahead and try to stop yourself after just 1 piece!

pineapple and coconut tres leches cake

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Every year we have a picnic at work. Several departments get together and there is always good food and fun games. It's nice to take an afternoon off work and hang out with your coworkers in a non-work setting.

There is always a dessert contest at the picnic. I've always participated in the eating of the dessert until I was too full to move. But I've never actually made a dessert for the picnic.

This is because we have coworkers who are ridiculously good bakers. Several of them even took professional cake decorating classes (!!). I just always felt like I can't compete, so why bother? I'll just show up and eat dessert. 🙂

tres leches cake

But this year I felt like I wouldn't be a legit food blogger if I didn't make something for the picnic. Which is probably not a rational thought whatsoever, but I guess a part of me also wanted to bake something for a change.

So I came up with the idea of a Caribbean-inspired tres leches cake, with coconut and pineapple flavors added in the traditional tres leches cake.

What's a tres leches cake?

If you're unfamiliar with tres leches cakes, you are in for a treat. Tres Leches means Three Milks in Spanish. It's a similar idea to a poke cake: You bake a cake (traditionally yellow or white cake), then you poke holes in it and pour a mixture of "three milks" over the cake. The mixture is typically a combination of Sweet Condensed Milk, Regular Milk, and Evaporated Milk.

tres leches cake

The cake sits overnight after it's been soaked with the milk mixture, and it absorbs all the milk. It turns out SO GOOD the next day.

And when you start out with a delicious pineapple-infused cake and add coconut-flavored milk to it, the taste is just out-of-this-world amazing.

I  topped this cake with a coconut whipped cream to give it even more coconut flavor, and then decorated with pineapple slices and toasted coconut. It came out so pretty, fancy looking, and tasty.

coconut whipped cream for tres leches cake

I had a lot of fun decorating the cake - this was probably my favorite part of making this cake. Perhaps I should look into professional cake decorating classes myself, I bet I'd love them!

Oh and the dessert contest?? Inside sources told me that this cake was second in both the presentation and the taste categories. I'll take it! It was my first baking adventure ever, and as I said earlier, I was competing against people who took professional classes in this kind of thing.

Several people came up to me and told me that this cake was their favorite (3 of those people being from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico), so they know what they're talking about. This cake was awesome.

So don't forget to save this recipe for later on Pinterest, and to give it a rating in the recipe card below!

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pineapple and coconut tres leches cake
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4.63 from 8 votes

Pineapple and Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Pineapple and Coconut Tres Leches Cake has wonderful Caribbean-inspired flavors infused into this delicious cake. Go ahead and try to stop yourself after just 1 piece!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Soaking time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Caribbean, Dominican, Latin American
Servings: 12
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 2 14-oz cans coconut milk (full fat, not lite. And not cream of coconut, you want coconut milk)
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1.25 cup water
  • 1 20-oz can crushed pineapple (or pineapple tidbits) in pineapple juice
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 14-oz can condensed milk
  • 1 container cool whip , thawed
  • 1 20-oz can of pineapple chunks in pineapple juice , or fresh pineapple for decorating the cake
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes , sweetened or unsweetened
  • Optional: 1 shot of coconut rum

Instructions

  • Place 1 can of coconut milk in the fridge. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  • Drain the crushed pineapple in a mesh strainer (collect the yummy pineapple juice and make yourself a cocktail while you bake the cake!). Use a spoon to squeeze the extra water out. This drained pineapple is going into the cake batter. It is OK if it is a little wet, since we will be soaking the cake in the milk mixture after the cake bakes, but you don't want extra pineapple juice going into the batter. 
  • Prepare the cake batter. Combine the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, and water in a large bowl (add the shot of coconut rum if you like) and beat on the medium setting with a hand mixer for 1 minute. Add the drained crushed pineapple and mix for another minute on medium. 
  • Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 9 cake pan and bake at 350F for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • While the cake is baking, prepare the three milks mixture: In a large bowl, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and 1 can of coconut milk. Whisk them together until you have a smooth mixture. 
  • While the cake is still warm, poke holes all over the cake with a fork. Don't forget all the parts of the cake close to the edges and the corners.
     
     
  • Pour the three milks mixture all over the cake. We used about 2/3 of the mixture, but you can add all of it. Place the cake in the fridge and let it cool down and absorb all the milky goodness. 
  • Get the can of coconut that was in the fridge. Open it, and carefully pour the top creamy part into a large bowl. Don't get the watery part in there. Save the coconut water part to add to a smoothie or make yourself another cocktail. 
  • Use a mixer to beat the coconut cream for a few minutes, until it fluffs up and almost doubles in size. Add the cool whip, and continue to mix for about 30 seconds, or until the coconut milk and the cool whip are combined. 
  • Spread the cool whip/coconut mixture all over the cake. 
  • Toast the coconut flakes in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes until they start to brown, stirring constantly so you don't burn them.
     
  • Decorate the cake with toasted coconut and pineapple chunks. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
     

Nutrition

Calories: 350kcal (18%)

 

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Kate

Sunday 28th of September 2014

Jenna and Heather - decorating with pineapple and toasted coconut was the best part! The part where I kept pouring the milk mixture onto the cake and it kept being absorbed was also kind of cool - it's impressive how much liquid a cake can soak up! :)

Heather @ Shards of Lavender

Saturday 27th of September 2014

I've always wanted to take a cake decorating class:) I think you should go for it! I just discovered tres leche cake last year and it's one of the best cakes I've eaten. I love your Caribbean spin on it and how you decorated the top. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us!

Jenna

Friday 26th of September 2014

I like how you placed the pineapple and coconut on the top of the cake/ Looks super good! Want a piece right now. :)

Julie@Sweet and Spicy Monkey

Saturday 20th of September 2014

I love this, it looks so yummy! All pineapply & coconutty....Mmmm, the perfect summer cake! Pinned! Oh, and congrats on being second in the dessert catagory :)

Kate

Sunday 21st of September 2014

Thanks! It actually surprised me how yummy this was. The coconut flavor was definitely refreshing for summer.

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