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Yellow cake with white frosting on a grey plate. A glass of coquito is in the background.
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Coquito Tres Leches

A light and airy sponge cake is drenched in the popular Puerto Rican coconut, rum, and cinnamon-flavored nog.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Puerto Rican/Hispanic
Keyword coquito, tres leches
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
soaking time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 770kcal

Equipment

  • 9x13-inch cake pan (regular metal, glass or ceramic is best)
  • electric mixer
  • 2 cups of prepared coquito

Ingredients

For the Rum Sponge Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (173 grams) cake flour sifted
  • 6 large eggs yolks separated from the whites and at room temperature
  • 1 cup (222 grams) granulated sugar separated
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (or vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Coquito Milk Mixture

  • 4 cups (1 liter) prepared alcohol-free coquito or see note for more milk options
  • 1 tablespoon rum extract or vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon extract

For the Rum Whipped Cream

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract *see note for other flavor ideas
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Optional Garnishes

  • ground cinnamon for dusting on the frosted cake
  • shredded coconut

Instructions

Prepare the Rum Sponge Cake Batter

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease only the bottom of a 9x13-inch cake pan with non-stick baking spray. Set the pan aside.
    Sift the flour two or three times. Set the flour aside while you whip the egg yolks.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, dark rum, salt, and 3/4 cup the sugar.
    Beat the yolks on high speed with an electric hand mixer for 3-4 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the beaters and the sides of the bowl. Return the beaters to bowl and whip for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the yolks are lemony yellow and the beaters leave a thick ribbon behind in them as they pass through.
  • Quickly wash mixer beaters with soap and hot water. This removes any traces of fat on the beaters, which inhibit the whites from whipping to their highest potential.
    Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites in the other bowl and begin mixing on low speed.
  • Once the whites start to foam, increase the speed of the mixer to medium. Whip the whites for 2-3 minutes, or until the whites begin to look milky. 
    Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar while whipping constantly.
  • Once all of the sugar is added, continue whipping the whites until they look snowy-white, and the whites hold their shape firmly or about 4 more minutes.
    Lift the beaters from the bowl. The peaks of eggs whites on the end of the beaters should stand straight out and not fold over.
    If the whites flop over, continue whipping the egg whites for a minute or until they are stiff. If the egg whites look foamy and have yellow liquid oozing from them, you have over-whipped them. You can try to salvage them by adding a room temperature egg white to the bowl and re-whipping. If that doesn't work, you'll need to start over.

Finish the Batter and Bake the Cake

  • Once you whip the whites, fold the flour and the egg whites into the beaten yolks in stages.
    Begin by sifting half of the flour into the bowl with the whipped yolks. Use a large rubber spatula to gently fold the flour into the yolks. Next, fold in half of the egg whites. Fold gently so as not to deflate the whites or the yolks.
    Repeat the sifting of the remaining flour over the yolks, followed by gently folding in the last of the whites.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake the cake for 15 minutes or until risen and a deep golden brown. 
    Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, use a toothpick or wooden skewer to pierce holes all over the cake.

Combine the Coquito Mixture

  • Whisk together the coquito, rum extract, and cinnamon extract the mixture is smooth and fluid.
    Use a 1 cup ladle to pour the milk over the baked cake. If you see that the milk is beginning to pool along the sides, give it a chance to soak in- waiting to continue pouring. The cake will start to absorb the milk mixture, and you can continue to pour once it's no longer visible.
    Pour all of the milk over the cake. Towards the end, puddles of milk will form on the sides of the pan. That's okay. As it chills, the cake will continue to soak up the coquito mixture. 
  • Wrap the cake pan in plastic wrap and put the dish in the fridge. Store the cake in the refrigerator for 3-24 hours. This gives the cake a chance to fully absorb that coquito tres leches mixture.

Prepare the Rum Whipped Cream

  • Three hours before you plan to serve the coquito tres leches, combine the heavy cream and the rum extract in a mixing bowl. 
    Starting with your electric hand mixer on medium speed, whip the cream just until the beaters begin to leave ribbons in the cream.
  • Start sprinkling in the sugar. After adding the sugar, increase the mixer's speed to high and whip for 2-3 more minutes, or until the cream is fluffy and stiff. 
    Use to frost the Coquito Tres Leches right away or store, covered, in the fridge for 2 days.

Frost the Coquito Tres Leches

  • Frost the coquito tres leches 3 hours (or at least 1 hour) before you plan to serve it.
  • Use an offset spatula to spread the whipped cream onto the surface of the cake.
    Garnish your Coquito Tres Leches with a generous sprinkle of ground cinnamon, shredded coconut, or both.
    Serve cold with a glass of coquito or coffee.

Notes

Use a combination of these milks in place of the Coquito:
  • 1 1/2 cups or 1- 13.66 ounce (403 ml) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1- 12 ounce (354 ml) can evaporated milk
  • 1- 14 ounce (397 grams) can sweetened condensed milk
Optional Flavorings for the Whipped Cream:
  • vanilla extract
  • coconut extract
  • cinnamon extract
  • almond extract
  • maple extract
  • caramel extract
Alternative Frostings for the Coquito Tres Leches

Storage and Freezer Instructions:

  • Store the cake in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Avoid storing the cake at room temperature for long periods.
  • Press a piece of plastic wrap against any cut sides to keep it from drying out in the fridge.
  • Freeze the Coquito Tres Leches with or without the whipped cream topping. Wrap the cake dish in a couple layers of plastic wrap and freeze for 2 months. Thaw the cake in the refrigerator before cutting and serving. 

Nutrition

Calories: 770kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 332mg | Sodium: 298mg | Potassium: 374mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 1758IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 239mg | Iron: 1mg