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Chocolate tres leches cake is a chocolate twist on a classic Mexican dessert. This chilled treat is rich and decadent!

If you love Mexican desserts, you’ll also love Fried Ice Cream, Churros, and Flan.

A slice of chocolate tres leches cake with a bite missing.

We Love Chocolate!

We love a flavorful cake for celebrations and just because. This chocolate version of classic Tres Leches Cake is a tasty twist on a favorite Mexican dessert!

Tres leches is Spanish for “three milks” which are soaked into the cake sponge. Chocolate tres leches cake provides a decadent addition!

Why we love it:

  • Cake mix recipe. This easy cake is made even easier with the use of a cake mix!
  • Texture. There’s no risk of a dry cake here. The 3 milks create a deliciously moist cake.
  • Not your typical sheet cake. This cake can feed a crowd and is a fun twist on classic sheet cakes. It’s especially perfect for fiestas!

Try our Easy Tres Leches Cake (with cake mix) for another quick dessert.

Ingredients for baking a chocolate cake on a kitchen counter.

Ingredients

  • package chocolate cake mix Follow the directions on the recipe and not the directions on the box. Use a box cake mix between 15-18 oz. Or you can make your own Chocolate Sponge Cake, including gluten-free cake, and then soak it with the tres leches milk mixture
  • chocolate milk
  • canola oil- or vegetable oil
  • eggs
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • half-and-half
  • evaporated milk
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • heavy whipping cream
  • chocolate curls Choose a high-quality chocolate bar. Use milk chocolate, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate.
Combining three milks in a glass bowl.

How to Make CHocolate Tres Leches

  1. PREP. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan.
  2. CAKE. In a large bowl, beat the cake ingredients. Pour into a greased pan.
    • Bake for 34-36 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes.
    • Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a fork.
  3. MILK MIXTURE. In a medium bowl, whisk sweetened condensed milk, half and half, evaporated milk, and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder until cocoa powder is fully mixed into the milk. Pour this evenly over the cake.
  4. CHILL. Refrigerate for at least  4 hours or overnight.
  5. TOPPING. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl. Make whipped cream. Add half the sugar/cocoa mix and beat until incorporated. Add the rest of the sugar/cocoa mix and beat on medium-high heat until soft peaks form.
  6. SERVE. Spread chocolate whipped cream over the cake right before serving as well as chocolate curls.

How to make chocolate curls

All you need is a vegetable peeler and a chocolate bar. 

  • The chocolate bar needs to be at room temperature otherwise it will be too hard to create curls. 
  • Peel the short side for short curls or the long side for larger curls.

Recipe Tips

  • Texture. If the sponge cake doesn’t absorb the milk mixture after being refrigerated for several hours, it may have been overmixed, or you didn’t poke enough holes with a fork.
    • The sponge cake should be light and airy so that the milk has ample places to settle.
  • Easy cleanup. Grease and flour a cake pan, or line the bottom with parchment paper. This will allow the cake pieces to be more easily removed from the pan.
  • Poking holes. Once the cake has been baked and cooled for a bit, poke holes all over the cake using a fork or a wooden skewer.
  • Variations. Add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon for a tasty flavor variation. Top with fresh strawberries or your favorite berry.
Mixing chocolate whipped topping in a bowl.

Make Chocolate Tres Leches Cupcakes

This recipe for chocolate tres leches cake can easily be turned into amazing cupcakes.

  1. Make the cake batter as directed, but bake it using aluminum or silicone cupcake liners. (The paper liners won’t hold the milk mixture). 
  2. Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  3. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes before poking holes in them. 
  4. Drizzle the 3 milk mixture evenly over the cupcakes. 
  5. Top with whipped cream frosting and chocolate shavings.
Chocolate tres leches cake topped with whipped frosting and chocolate shavings.

Storing Info

  • Make ahead of time. If you are purposefully making the cake ahead of time, I recommend storing the cake and the whipped cream topping separately. Frost the cake before serving.
  • STORE covered in the fridge for 4-5 days. If the fridge is too cold, the milk mixture may partially freeze and produce a hard cake. Simply let the cake sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.
  • FREEZE for up to 3 months. Freeze it with or without the whipped cream topping. Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap and again with foil. Thaw in the fridge before serving.
Slice of chocolate tres leches cake topped with whipped topping and chocolate shavings.

For More Sweets:

5 from 27 votes

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

By: Lil’ Luna
Chocolate tres leches cake is a chocolate twist on a classic Mexican dessert. This chilled treat is rich and decadent!
Servings: 15 slices
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Chill: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package chocolate cake mix
  • cups chocolate milk
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Topping

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder divided
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • chocolate curls

Instructions 

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease a 9×13-inch pan.
  • In a large bowl, beat cake mix, chocolate milk, canola oil, and eggs until well combined (about 2 minutes). Pour into greased pan.
  • Bake for 34-36 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a fork.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk sweetened condensed milk, half and half, evaporated milk, and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder until cocoa powder is fully mixed into the milks. Pour this evenly over the cake. Refrigerate for at least  4 hours or overnight.

Topping

  • Make the topping by first sifting the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl.
  • Make whipped cream by beating heavy cream in a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add half the sugar/cocoa mix and beat until incorporated. Add the rest of the sugar/cocoa mix and beat on medium-high heat until soft peaks form.
  • Spread chocolate whipped cream over the cake right before serving as well as chocolate curls.

Notes

Make ahead of time. If you are purposefully making the cake ahead of time, I recommend storing the cake and the whipped cream topping separately. Frost the cake before serving.
STORE covered in the fridge for 4-5 days. If the fridge is too cold, the milk mixture may partially freeze and produce a hard cake. Simply let the cake sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.
FREEZE for up to 3 months. Freeze it with or without the whipped cream topping. Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap and again with foil. Thaw in the fridge before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 299kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0.03g, Cholesterol: 96mg, Sodium: 61mg, Potassium: 207mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 868IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 111mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Making this recipe? Tag us!
Share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #lilluna, so we can see what you’re creating in the kitchen!

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




27 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I didn’t think I could love tres leches cake any more than I already did, but I guess I was wrong. This was fantastic!!

  2. 5 stars
    this was one of the most delicious cakes that I have made in a while! thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe!

  3. Can I use whipped cream that’s already prepackaged, for the topping? If so, would I just add the cocoa powder, not the sugar to the topping?

    1. You know, I haven’t tried, but I imagine you could. I would say add as much powdered sugar so that it doesn’t taste bitter. The cocoa powder will give it a bitter taste, so you may still need the sugar to make it sweet. You’ll have to let us know how it turns out if you give that a try. I’d be curious to know!

  4. 5 stars
    Took this to a fiesta celebration for out library volunteers. Everyone loved it!
    It is the best chocolate cake ever!!

  5. 5 stars
    My simple brain needs clarification please.

    ▢ ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder divided

    Is this 1/2 cup total for the whipped topping?? or is this 1/2 cup – 3 tablespoons (milk mixture)

    Or referring to confectioners sugar & cocoa divided??

    So far what I’ve tasted is DELICIOUS!! I used dark chocolate cake mix. I bought two cake mixes and weighed out to 18.25 ounces. I think that little bit makes a difference.
    Thanks for the recipes.

    1. So the 3 Tbsp goes with the milk mixture that is poured onto the cake. The 1/2 cup of cocoa is for the topping – you will actually mix all of that 1/2 cup with the confectioners sugar. Then you’ll mix half of the sugar/cocoa mix to the heavy cream. When it’s all incorporated, you’ll add the rest of it and mix until stiff peaks form. Hopefully that helps clarify a bit!

      1. 5 stars
        This cake was most delicious! This recipe will be one made over and over! Also, thank you for the clarification! Much appreciated!

  6. 5 stars
    I had never had the chocolate version of this before. It is going to be one of my all time favorites from now on. DELISH!