A Tres Leche cake is traditionally soaked in a mixture of condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream giving it a texture somewhere between cake and custard. This Triple Coconut “Tres Leches” Cake With Mango & Lime gluten-free version from Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s cookbook, Alternative Baker, uses coconut milk to create a creamy cake worthy of any occasion.
Today I’m sharing a recipe from Alanna’s new gluten-free cookbook, Alternative Baker. This book is extra special to me because I’ve been a huge fans of Alanna’s blog, The Bojon Gourmet, since before I can remember. Photos are what always draws me in and her magazine-worthy photography always has me swooning. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Alanna in Minneapolis in July and previewing a copy of her book at that time which made it all more exciting. The cookbook, to put it simply, is irresistible. The photos, of course, are stunning but the recipes also sparked an inspiration inside of me that I haven’t felt in a long time. An inspiration to want to bake everything, to learn new techniques, and to master working with flours and ingredients I’ve never tried.
As with many new kitchen endeavors, I shied away from gluten-free baking for a long time because of the additional ingredients I’d need to invest in. I had tried a few gluten-free baking recipes (mostly from my Babycakes cookbook) before but the techniques were complicated and the results were never stunning. I had the opposite experience with Alternative Baker. This Tres Leche recipe I picked required I purchase three new flours that I’d never owned before (coconut flour, sweet rice flour, and millet flour) and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were all under $4 a bag at my local grocery store. I also discovered, while looking for these flours, that our local store has a ton of interesting flours I’m now excited to experiment with – hazelnut, rye, and almond to name a few. The techniques in this recipe were no more complicated than making a normal sponge cake and the end texture was perfect (which I’m always fearful about with gluten-free goods).
We’ve been very busy the last month with traveling to visit friends and family, weddings, and many rounds of friends and family visiting us. It was so majorly fun but as a total introvert, it’s also super exhausting for me. Summer has also begun to feel fleeting so we’ve been rushing to get all of the summer bucket list items checked off our list (mostly squeezing in seeing people) and I was so glad the universe threw a curveball at us on Saturday and down-pour rained all day. The rain gave way to relieving me of trying to fill any sort of summer-to do and was the perfect excuse to recharge in my kitchen. I spent the lazy morning with the windows open to hear the rain falling, drinking coffee, and working on this recipe. Baking has always been a soothing task for me since it’s less about making decisions (which I’m terrible at) and all about following directions to end at a delicious edible work of art.
These Tres Leches cakes did not disappoint; maybe it was because I was the calmest I’d been all month or maybe it was the sugar talking but these little cakes were addictive. Spongey, packed full of coconut flavor, and portioned out into the perfect mini-cake, we devoured half the batch within the first day. The coconut and vanilla milk mixture was by far my favorite part – I’m already imagining other things I could create with it (ice cream? custard?). The recipe is dairy-free but not vegan – I bet an eggless cake would work wonders here as well if you don’t eat eggs.
Triple Coconut “Tres Leches” Cake With Mango & Lime recipe below:
- ¼ cup sunflower oil
- ¾ cup water
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp organic granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup sweet white rice flour
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup millet flour
- 1¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 5 large egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 3 Tbsp organic granulated cane sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- 2½ cups full fat, well-shaken canned coconut milk
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 3 Tbsp dark rum (pick a gluten-free variety to keep the cake GF)
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 medium mangoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces
- Zest from 1 lime
- Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, water, egg yolks, and vanilla, then whisk in ½ cup sugar. Place a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl and sift in the flours and baking powder. Whisk until completely smooth.
- In the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar and whip until the whites are glossy and just hold a firm peak, one to three minutes.
- Using a flexible silicon spatula, fold ⅓ of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined and no streaks remain. Immediately pour batter into prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Remove from rack and let cool in the pan completely.
- To make the milk mixture: Place sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and coconut milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, then remove from heat. Cove and let steep for 10-20 minutes to infuse the vanilla.
- Once the cake has cooled, using a biscuit cutter, cut it into 9 circles. Leaving it in the pan, poke all over with a toothpick and pour 1½ cups of the coconut milk mixture over the cake, letting it absorb the milk. Use a small offset spatula to pry the cake rounds and peel away any scraps (which can be saved for snacking!), placing the cake rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the cakes loosely with plastic wrap and let chill for at least one hour (also cover the remaining milk mixture and stick in the fridge as well).
- To finish, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread coconut flakes on a small baking sheet and toast until golden, 5-10 minutes.
- Serve cake rounds in shallow bowls topped with coconut, mango chunks, and lime zest.