Confession: I don't love the soggy consistency of most Tres Leches cakes. It's one of those cakes that people either love or hate, so I set out to create a newfangled Tres Leches to win over the haters, while still paying homage to the original.
This recipe uses much less of the Tres Leches (3 milks) mixture than most. I replaced the evaporated milk with light coconut milk to lend a bit more body and flavor. Lime zest and juice are featured throughout the recipe -- cake, leches, and frosting. The cake is topped with toasted coconut and the sides get a coating of crushed graham cracker. What results is a light and bright-tasting cake, reminiscent of key lime pie.
Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!
Light and Fluffy Lime Tres Leches Cake
Yield: One 10x10 single layer cake
Bake time: 25 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour
For the cake
1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
4 large eggs
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups water
Zest of one lime
For the leches
4 oz. sweetened condensed milk
4 oz. light coconut milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
For the whipped cream and garnish
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup toasted coconut** (optional)
1 sleeve graham crackers, reduced to crumb (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 10x10 pan*, use a sheet of foil or parchment to create an overhanging sling to make the cake easy to remove. Grease the sling.
Step 1: In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil, water, and lime zest. Mix on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for two minutes. Pour batter into the baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cake should spring back to the touch, or a toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.
Step 2: Let cake cool for 5 minutes. While cake is cooling, whisk together the three milks and lime juice in a bowl till smooth. Poke holes in cake all over with a bamboo skewer or a fork. Then, pour the mixture evenly and slowly over the top of the cake. Use a rubber scraper or offset spatula to spread the milk mixture over the top and to give it an opportunity to seep into all of those holes. Refrigerate the cake for a minimum of one hour.
Step 3: When cake is chilled, remove from refrigerator. Use a thin spatula or butter knife to loosen the sides of the cake that touch the pan. Lift both sides of sling to remove cake. Transfer cake to a square cake board or plate. Discard sling.
Step 4: Whip chilled cream to medium peaks. Then add powdered sugar, lime zest, and vanilla. Use the whipped cream to frost the top and sides of the cake. Chill until ready to serve or decorate.
Step 5 (optional): Sprinkle toasted coconut on the top of the cake. Gently pat crumbled graham cracker on the sides of the cake. Chill until ready to serve.
*This cake can also be made in a 9" or 10" round pan.
**I toasted sweetened flaked coconut in a sauté pan over medium heat for a few minutes, then set it aside to cool.