Yes, It’s Possible To Make a Creamy, Luscious Tres Leches Cake Without Dairy—Here’s How

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Since tres leches cake literally has "milk" in the name (and three types at that), it's probably one of the last desserts you would think could taste equally delicious sans dairy. Not true. If you're dairy-free and you've resigned yourself to not being able to eat tres leches cake, you're in luck thanks to this week's episode of Alt-Baking Bootcamp. 

"I love tres leches personally, but in my later years I have found that I'm not as keen to dairy as I once was," says nutrition coach and baker Sasha Handal. In the episode, she demos a dairy-free tres leches cake recipe that "nails" the "creaminess, lusciousness, and flavor" of a tres leches cake, without any dairy. (A note: This recipe is not vegan, as it calls for eggs.)

Experts In This Article
  • Sashah Handal, Barry’s Bootcamp instructor certified in personal training, HIIT, indoor cycling, and TRX

The key to getting that creamy flavor without dairy is using the right alternative-milks. Handal's recipe calls for coconut, cashew, and oat milk; true to form, she still uses three kinds. "I like these milks a lot because they have a really high fat content, and that is what you need to give you that really luscious end result that's going to emulate dairy," Handal says. Press play on the video to see the full preparation in action, and follow along with the instructions below.

Dairy-free tres leches cake recipe

1 cup King Arthur AP Flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
3 1/2 tbsp vegan butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup of cashew milk

Tres leches “milk”
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup oat milk
1 1/3 cup cashew milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Using the paddle attachments on an electric mixer, cream the egg yolks, vegan butter, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk and mix until combined.

2. Combine the remaining dry ingredients for the cake in a separate bowl and mix well. Add half of the mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix until fully incorporated.

3. Use a spatula to scrape down the edges of the bowl, then add the cashew milk. Mix until combined.

4. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.

5. Whisk the egg whites until they are light and fluffy, and you see visible stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter.

6. Spray a cake pan with coconut oil. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 35 minutes, making sure to check on it halfway through.

7. Remove the cake from the oven. Use a fork to poke holes all over the cake. Be sure the fork hits the bottom of the pan.

8. Combine all the ingredients for the tres leches "milk" in a pitcher. Slowly pour the mixture over the cake. Let it cool on the counter until the pan is cool enough to touch, then place it in the fridge and let cool for three hours.

9. Spread a thin layer of dairy-free whipped topping over the cake. Top with almond slivers and toasted coconut flakes. Enjoy!

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