Chocolate Coconut Tres Leche Cake- Lightened Up

Would you be surprised if I told that I had never made a cake from a store-bought box until today? I know you probably think I’m lying, but I’m not. I’m kind of a snob/overachiever in the fact that I feel like I have to make everything from scratch – even if it means I’ll be slaving away in the kitchen for hours upon hours. It’s seriously a sickness. Case in point:

I can’t just buy store-bought pesto, I must to go to the store, spend way more money buying ingredients and then make it myself.

In no way, shape, or form would I ever even think of coming home with ranch dressing from a jar.

And I would NEVER make ravioli with anything but handmade pasta that I’ve lovingly kneaded myself.

I told you – it’s a sickness.

There are instances where I should just suck it up and take a little help from the grocery store. I mean, do I really need to be making homemade pesto in the dead of winter? Do I really need to come home from work and crank out fresh pasta instead of using store-bought dough or wonton wrappers?

No, not really.

Lately I’ve been seeing all kinds of blogs posting about doctoring up boxed cake mixes to make the baking process a little easier. Legit cooks using cake mix? Hmmm I dunno. To say I was weary is an understatement; I mean certainly nothing good could come out of a box.


Since I’m completely on board with trying new things, I decided to give it a whirl.


It wasn’t half bad, in fact it was good. Like really good. Like oh-my-god-what-have-I-been-missing-out on good.

Was it easier? Yes in the sense that you don’t have to go through the trial and error of coming up with your own ratio of baking powder and baking soda to liquid and eggs. Maybe not, in that if you have a tried and true cake recipe, it wouldn’t take much more effort to bake a cake from scratch. But since I’m in the world of creating my own recipes, it cuts my time in half to have a prepared mix that I can alter to my liking. And with the crazy busy state my life is in right now, I’ll take it!

So now that we’ve thoroughly discussed cake mix, let’s talk tres leche.

Last week, Jessica over at How Sweet It Is reminded me just how obsessed I am with Tres Leche cake; her Tres Leche Banana Bread Cake literally had me drooling with the first picture I saw. So of course, I was inspired to come up with my own creative riff on it.

I fell head over heels in love with Tres Leche cake a few years ago when I went to visit my friend Katie in Florida. We dined at a cute little Spanish tapas restaurant that also happened to serve a killer tres leche cake that we all still dream about to this day.

If you’re not familiar, basically all it consists of is a sheet cake soaked in three different milks. Traditionally, evaporated milk, whole milk, and sweet and condensed milk are whisked together and drizzled over a cake that’s been poked all over with a wooden skewer, it’s then topped off with fluffy whip cream, and stored until the cake soaks up ever last drop of milk.

It’s now one of my favorite desserts of all time, right along side coconut cream pie. So I thought it would be ingenious to combine the two for a coconut-y chocolaty indulgence.

Devil’s food cake mix is prepared as instructed on the box, but buttermilk is swapped out for water to create a tangier flavor and a finer crumb; melted chocolate is also added to make sure the batter is super chocolaty. After the cake is baked it’s soaked in a mixture of coconut milk, evaporated milk, and sweet and condensed milk – most of if being heavy on the coconut. It’s then smothered in low-fat whipped topping that’s laced with a little bit of coconut extract, and then the whole thing is topped off with shredded coconut.

Ummm…soo so good.

Chocolate Coconut Tres Leche Cake- Lightened Up

Chocolate Coconut Tres Leche Cake- Lightened Up

Chocolate Coconut Tres Leche Cake
  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup low-fat evaporated milk
  • ½ cup low-fat sweet and condensed milk
  • 1 contained frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups shredded and sweetened coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13X9 cake pan.
  2. Whisk cake mix, buttermilk, melted chocolate, eggs, salt, and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl. Pour in prepared cake pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  3. When cake has baked poke all over with a wooden skewer. Let cool. Whisk three milks together. Pour over cake. Combine whipped topping and coconut extract. Spread evenly over cake. Sprinkle with shredded coconut. Cover with plastic wrap and let set in the fridge for two hours before serving. Store in fridge.

Easy Chocolate Tres Leche Cake with Coconut Cream

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