Tres Leches Cupcakes

Tres Leches Cupcakes ~ Dunk it, pump it or drizzle it.  Whatever method you use to infuse your  Tres Leche Cupcake (“three milk cupcake) is fine.  Just be sure that one of the three milks is coconut milk. Then finish off this dairy-dream cupcake with some dulce de leche buttercream frosting, a little dusting of chocolate shavings, and you’ll be peeling away the cupcake wrapper faster than a kid with a…uh, cupcake.

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Last week I was huffing and puffing about my laziness and I was all about turning out desserts that I couldn’t eat in order to save the stretched out seams on my fat jeans.  Then I realized . . . boring! Who wants to make desserts and not partake? Maybe once, maybe twice but beyond that is madness!

Hello decadence.  Hello cupcake.

Okay, I’ll admit, I’m balancing my sweet butter cravings with a pair of Nikes and Foster The People stuck on repeat. Adding to that, lucky for me, my SIL Molly is a kick ass Beach Body coach that I’m guessing after being on her regimen for 4 weeks, my muffin top. . . .Well, it’ll be optional.

Now here’s an option for you: I’m helping to promote this post, so if you’re inclined, take a hop over and give a bark to this totally adorable blogger and her dog. They are  checking out Purina’s Pro Select Plan. And serioulsy, how freaking cute is Connor? Pssst. . .  there’s also a $100 Visa card giveaway going on over there!

A few notes:

  • The original recipes calls for a ¼ cup of shortening, but I switched it out with butter. The original recipe also calls for garnishing the frosting with 1 cup of toasted coconut flakes but I opted for a dusting of chocolate grated chocolate because I didn’t want the coconut to overshadow the dulce de leche frosting.
  • Make sure to use coconut milk and not cream of coconut as the latter is much sweeter and thicker. Coconut milk can be found in the international food section of most local grocery stores.
  • The consistency of the dulce de leche frosting will depend on how much or or how little you add of the dulce de leche sauce. I’ve written the recipe as 1/2 cup – 1 cup to account for varying ducle de leche consistency that can run on the thinner side when purchased from the store versus making a homemade version that is usually thicker. I recommend starting with 1/2 cup and mix to combine then taste and add more if needed.

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Makes 14-16 cupcakes

Tres Leches Cupcake

Cupcake portion adapted from

Preparation: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake wells with paper liner.



  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup lightly toasted flaked coconut (Mounds or Angel Flake brand), optional for garnishing the frosting

Dulce de Leche Buttercream Frosting:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 11/2 cup sugar
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2-1 cup of dulce de leche, room temperature (click here for a homemade recipe with a step-by-step pictorial instructions)



  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined and all the yellow disappears. Add the vanilla, mix to combine. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Alternately add the dry mixture with the buttermilk to the creamed butter beginning and ending with the flour.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into  cake batter.
  3. Fill paper-linyed wells 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack and set aside.
  4. Stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk. Use a meat injector needle to inject cupcakes all over with about 1/2 to 3/4-ounce of the mixture. Alternatel, poke several holes in the top of cupcakes with a wooden skewer and then pour the milk mixture over each cupcake while they are still warm, filling each hole. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before frosting.
  5. Save lightly toasted flaked coconut for garnishing cupcakes once frosted.

Dulce de Leche Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.
  2. Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks when the whisk is pulled up out of the meringue.
  3. Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Add dulce de leche and mix to combine.

*NOTE: The consistency of the dulce de leche frosting will depend on how much or or how little you add of the dulce de leche sauce. I’ve written the recipe as 1/2 cup – 1 cup to account for varying ducle de leche consistency that can run on the thinner side when purchased from the store versus making a homemade version that is usually thicker. I recommend starting with 1/2 cup and mix to combine then taste and add more if needed.


1. Frost cooled cupcakes with dulce de leche buttercream and either sprinkle lightly toasted flaked coconut on top or dust with grated chocolate.

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  1. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    How do you get your frosting to look all ruffly? It’s fantastic!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — May 25th, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

      Mel-I used Wilton’s tip number 2D for the frosting. It comes out more ruffly according to the texture of your frosting. If you are using a stiffer frosting like a traditional buttercream frosting, the 2D will produce a frosting that looks more like the one on these cupcakes: The frosting for this cupcake is much “loosier” from the dulce de leche and produces this more ruffled effect.

  2. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    This milk cupcake are well decorated with a cupcake wrapper that is so elegant makes this cupcake perfect! Can’t wait to make one of this cupcake recipe.

  3. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    On the frosting, did you mean add the cooled dulce de leche instead of add the cooled chocolate?

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — May 25th, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

      Lynette-yes! Thanks for letting me know. I ‘ve corrected the recipe. Sorry, the frosting is my base recipe that I use then make flavor adaptations accordingly.

  4. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Oh! I have the tip but am going to have to play around with the frosting consistency. I love that ruffley look too!

    And the cupcakes look DELICIOUS!!

  5. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonJanelle King says

    The link for the dulce de leche is not working. Beautiful cupcakes will add to list!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — May 25th, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

      Janelle-Thanks for letting me know. The link has been repaired.

  6. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAnna says

    Oh wow! These look amazing! These cupcakes have me wanting to get in the kitchen right now!!

  7. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Omg, I think I just accidentally licked the screen.

    I love that you used butter instead of shortening, so much better, right, butter is the best
    You have such gorgeous sweets I just love looking at them.
    It hit 95F today I’m staying away from the oven but until then I will munch on these photos till it cools down.

    They sound so very delicious Thank you for sharing.

  8. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    when do you put in the coconut flakes? i don’t see it in the directions and I’m about to bake the cupcakes.

  9. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAlicia says

    You have a cup of flaked coconut listed…but Im not seeing it used in the recipe. Are you using it as a topping? I love making Tres Leches but the coconut milk is a new thing I’m looking forward to trying..

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — June 1st, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

      Hi Alicia,

      The cup of coconut is optional for garnishing the frosting. I skipped it as I did not want the coconut to over shadow the dulce de leche frostiing.


  10. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Dear Bakers Royale
    I have a critical question that I have been hunting down for a while an dI really hope you can help me as I am getting quite desperate…….

    Which piping tip do you use for this particularly frosting technique??? And is there a particular technique you use to get the effect?

    In desperate need.
    Yours Sincerely, Traci.

    ps. Just getting my blog up and running this month, its not quite there yet but super close!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — June 1st, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

      Hi Traci,

      I used Wilton’s 2D tip. Take a look at the comments above regarding the needed frosting consistency to get the ruffled effect.


  11. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I can’t wait to make these! I love Tres Leches cake, and never thought to put it in cupcake form….brilliant!

  12. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonFrancisca Contreras says

    Marvelous and delicious!!! I can’t wait to make this recipe!! Thanks…

  13. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Although I’m not a fan of Tres Leches (“leches” should be in the plural form :D) cakes/cupcakes, I think your cupcakes look lovely. My mom would love these!! Great photos as usual.

  14. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Hi!!My name is Maite and I am from Spain. I love your blog and your recipes!And I would like to do some and post them in my blog but here in Spain we use grams to measure quantities and I don’t know their equivalence to cups, teaspoons or others. Could you please tell me??Thank you very much!!

  15. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonTorie says

    It might be a little too late since my cupcakes are in the oven now, but…the recipe says 1/2-3/4 of an ounce…thats 3-4 1/2 tsp of tres leches per cupcake. Is that right??? It seems like a whole lot more than a litte cake can take. Am I wrong for my concern?

  16. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonLori says

    What do you mean by 4 sticks of butter for the icing? Surely you don’t mean 4 whole sticks of butter?

  17. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonNancy says

    I made these cupcakes and the frosting (your home made version for the dulce de leche) YUM!! and they were a hit for my daughter’s 25th birthday party. I used a star tip for the icing design. I like to make mine with gold foil cupcake liners as they are much moister than regular cake cupcakes. Time consuming for only about 15 cupcakes,but people can taste all the love you put into these. Make double the wish you had once these are made as they go fast. Best to refrigerate afterwards too from all of the butter in the frosting as it will melt in warmer temps.

    Thank you for this awesome recipe..These are the cupcakes you want to make if you want to impress others with your baking talents and they are soooo delicious!!

  18. Avatar for Naomi Robinsongay guy says



  19. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonCourtney says

    If we make your homemade dulce de leche for this recipe, how many batches should we make? Does one can yield enough for the frosting?