Baking/ Christmas/ Dessert/ Recipes/ Snack/ Valentine's Day

Tres Leches Cupcakes

10/05/2024

These tres leches cupcakes are like literal clouds! Super light and fluffy cupcakes soaked with a decadent 3 milk syrup and topped with whipped cream, strawberries and a dusting of cinnamon. Absolute heaven!

A tres leches cupcake with a bite taken out.

Why We Love This

They’re the mini version of the traditional tray-baked Mexican 3 milk cake, super portable and perfect for sharing at parties and gatherings. We’ll eat them anywhere… Laura may have scoffed one in the car on the way to Sarah’s parent’s place one night!

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Both of our families love them as a delicious homemade dessert that is easy to tweak with different flavourings and toppings for a whole different experience every time. This recipe is up there as the most requested birthday dessert (right alongside pavlova of course!)

Related: Coconut Ice / Mexican Mini Cob Loaf Dips

Tres Leches Cupcakes Recipe - A decadent yet light dessert or party plate just oozing with creamy goodness. Soaked in '3 milks', this moreish dessert is a winner with friends. | wandercooks.com

Tres Leches Cupcakes

These gorgeous tres leches cupcakes will satisfy the sweetest of sweet tooths, while still being light and refreshing on the tummy.

It’s a breeze to make in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. The key to success is all in the whipping of the egg yolks and whites. You want the yolks to turn super pale, thick and creamy, then the egg whites to be the complete opposite – stiff, light and fluffy like air. This is the perfect combo for the lightest cupcakes on earth!

Ingredients and substitutes

  • 3 Milks (Tres Leches) – You’ll need three types of milk for the tres leches milk syrup – evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and thickened cream / heavy cream. You’ll also need a dash of regular milk in the cake batter as well, plus extra cream for the topping.
  • Sugar – We use caster sugar (aka superfine sugar).
  • Self Raising Flour – This gives structure and lift to the cupcakes without need for extra baking powder. You can substitute with the same amount of all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp baking powder if you need.
  • Eggs – We use free range, extra large eggs (around 59 g each).
  • Vanilla Essence – A nice subtle taste to the cupcake base. Can sub with other flavours such as almond essence.
Ingredients laid out to make tres leches cupcakes.

Let’s make tres leches in cupcake form!

Jump to Recipe

For the egg yolk mixture

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C / 360˚F. Add your egg yolks and caster sugar / superfine sugar into a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Blend them together for 3-5 mins on medium high speed until the yolks become pale yellow.
  2. Add the milk and vanilla essence and mix again until combined. Next, add self raising flour and salt and stir until evenly mixed. Note: If using a stand mixer, transfer to a separate large bowl.

For the egg white mixture

  1. Add the egg whites into your cleaned stand mixer bowl and whisk on medium high speed, gradually adding the remaining caster sugar / superfine sugar Once added, increase speed to high and mix for around 5-8 minutes, or until the egg whites are nice and stiff but not dry.

For the combined batter

  1. Pour the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Important: fold in very gently using a wooden spoon until just combined. Your finished cupcake batter should be a nice pale yellow colour. It’s okay if there are still streaks of white and yellow colour showing, you really want to avoid over-mixing in this step to keep them super fluffy.
  1. Now pour the batter into patty pans until around 3/4 – full. These cupcakes will rise a lot, so don’t overfill the cups.
  2. Bake them in the oven for 15-20 mins or so, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, pierce each cupcake with a fork or toothpick a few times (this will allow the milk syrup to soak into your cupcakes!). Careful here – go slow so you don’t rip any golden tops off!

For the milk syrup

  1. Mix the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and thickened cream / heavy cream together until nicely combined. Ladle a spoonful of the syrup over each cooled cupcake and wait for the mixture to absorb, then repeat once more for each cupcake.

For the topping

  1. Add the thickened cream / heavy cream and icing sugar / powdered sugar into a clean mixing bowl and blend on medium high until the cream is thick and spreadable. Scoop generously onto each cupcake, then top with freshly sliced strawberries and a dusting of cinnamon.

Quick Tips

  • Stand Mixer / Hand Mixer / Wooden Spoon – It’s easiest to use a stand mixer or hand mixer for whipping the egg whites and cream. The process is pretty similar to our Australian pavlova recipe – but with a much softer, meltier outcome. However, this cake batter relies on plenty of air to keep its volume and shape while cooking. So – when it comes to folding through the egg whites, ALWAYS do this by hand with a wooden spoon. Fold through gently so you’re still seeing streaks of white and golden colour, and you should be fine.
  • Use Patty Pans / Cupcake Liners – We use reusable silicone muffin cups. Foil or simple paper ones will also work fine.
  • Separating Eggs – Need help separating eggs? Read our egg white recipes guide.
  • Leftover Mixture – If you have any leftover mixture, you can pop it in small ramekins and make mini cakes!
  • Filling Amount – Fill your patty pans between 3/4 and full with the cake mix for the best sized cupcakes. See below to see before and after baking at the different fill heights.

Storage

  • Storing – Once made, they’ll last in the fridge for around 3 days – but fresher is best!
  • Freezing – You can freeze the cupcakes after baking, but before you add any syrup or whipped cream. They’ll last for a month or so when stored in an air tight freezer-safe container. When you’re ready, defrost them in the fridge or on the bench overnight (covered), then continue with the rest of the recipe.

FAQs & Troubleshooting

My cupcakes are soggy, what happened?

You may have added more syrup than the cupcake can absorb. It’s a good idea to pour in a little at a time, watching to see how the fast the liquid is absorbed. When this starts to slow down, stop.

Don’t be tempted to use up all of the syrup. If you have a little left over, that’s okay. You can store it in the fridge for around a week, or pop on the kettle and use it in a cup of coffee or tea.

My cupcakes sunk in the middle, what happened?

They will naturally deflate a little – this is fine!

If they’ve completely sunk in the middle:
– They may not have been cooked through in the middle. Do the skewer test to see if it comes out clean – then they’re ready.
– You may have overmixed the cake batter, pushing out too much air, which is what helps it hold its shape.

Toppings, Serving Ideas & Variations

  • Toppings Ideas:
    – Sprinkle cinnamon or 100s & 1000s over the top of the whipped cream.
    – Swap the homemade whipped cream for caramel or chocolate sauce, cupcake frosting or canned whipped cream.
  • Make it into a Tray Bake Cake – Swap the patty pans for a large rectangular baking dish and continue with the rest of the recipe. When it’s time to serve, slice the cake into square pieces around 5×5 cm or 2×2 inches.
  • Experiment with Flavour – For an even more festive dessert:
    – Add a dash of rum, brandy or coffee to the three milk syrup.
    – Try swapping the milks for eggnog.
    – Add spices such as cinnamon, ginger and cloves (or pumpkin spice) to the cake batter before cooking.
A tres leches cupcake topped with cream, strawberry and cinnamon on a small white dish.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

A hand holds a tres leches cupcake showing the inside soaked with the 3 milk syrup.

Tres Leches Cupcakes

These tres leches cupcakes are like literal clouds! Super light and fluffy cupcakes soaked with a decadent 3 milk syrup and topped with whipped cream, strawberries and a dusting of cinnamon. Absolute heaven!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Calories: 163kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $12

Ingredients

For the Egg Yolk Mixture

For the Egg White Mixture

For the Milk Syrup

For the Topping

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180˚C / 360˚F.

For the egg yolk mixture

  • Add your 3 egg yolks and 6 tbsp caster sugar / superfine sugar into a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Blend them together for 3-5 mins on medium high speed until the yolks become pale yellow.
  • Add the 4 tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla essence and mix again until combined.
  • Next, add ½ cup self raising flour and ¼ tsp salt and stir until evenly mixed. Note: If using a stand mixer, transfer to a separate large bowl.

For the egg white mixture

  • Add the 3 egg whites into your cleaned stand mixer bowl and whisk on medium high speed, gradually adding the remaining 2 tbsp caster sugar / superfine sugar Once added, increase speed to high and mix for around 5-8 minutes, or until the egg whites are nice and stiff but not dry.

For the combined batter

  • Pour the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
    Important: fold in very gently using a wooden spoon until just combined. Your finished cupcake batter should be a nice pale yellow colour. It's okay if there are still streaks of white and yellow colour showing, you really want to avoid over-mixing in this step to keep them super fluffy.
  • Now pour the batter into patty pans until around 3/4 – full. These cupcakes will rise a lot, so don't overfill the cups.
  • Bake them in the oven for 15-20 mins or so, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled, pierce each cupcake with a fork or toothpick a few times (this will allow the milk syrup to soak into your cupcakes!). Careful here – go slow so you don’t rip any golden tops off!

For the milk syrup

  • Mix the 6 tbsp evaporated milk, 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk and 3 tbsp thickened cream / heavy cream together until nicely combined. Ladle a spoonful of the syrup over each cooled cupcake and wait for the mixture to absorb, then repeat once more for each cupcake.

For the topping

  • Add the 1/2 cup thickened cream / heavy cream and 1 tbsp icing sugar / powdered sugar into a clean mixing bowl and blend on medium high until the cream is thick and spreadable. Scoop generously onto each cupcake, then top with freshly sliced 12 strawberries and a dusting of 1 tsp cinnamon.

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Stand Mixer / Hand Mixer / Wooden Spoon – It’s easiest to use a stand mixer or hand mixer for whipping the egg whites and cream. The process is pretty similar to our Australian pavlova recipe – but with a much softer, meltier outcome. However, this cake batter relies on plenty of air to keep its volume and shape while cooking. So – when it comes to folding through the egg whites, ALWAYS do this by hand with a wooden spoon. Fold through gently so you’re still seeing streaks of white and golden colour, and you should be fine.
  • Use Patty Pans / Cupcake Liners – We use reusable silicone muffin cups. Foil or simple paper ones will also work fine.
  • Separating Eggs – Need help separating eggs? Read our egg white recipes guide.
  • Leftover Mixture – If you have any leftover mixture, you can pop it in small ramekins and make mini cakes!
  • Filling Amount – Fill your patty pans between 3/4 and full with the cake mix for the best sized cupcakes. See below to see before and after baking at the different fill heights.
  • Storing – Once made, they’ll last in the fridge for around 3 days – but fresher is best!
    Freezing – You can freeze the cupcakes after baking, but before you add any syrup or whipped cream. They’ll last for a month or so when stored in an air tight freezer-safe container. When you’re ready, defrost them in the fridge or on the bench overnight (covered), then continue with the rest of the recipe.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Tres Leches Cupcakes
Amount per Serving
Calories
163
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Cholesterol
 
70
mg
23
%
Sodium
 
88
mg
4
%
Potassium
 
117
mg
3
%
Carbohydrates
 
20
g
7
%
Fiber
 
0.5
g
2
%
Sugar
 
15
g
17
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
317
IU
6
%
Vitamin C
 
8
mg
10
%
Calcium
 
70
mg
7
%
Iron
 
0.3
mg
2
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks

This recipe was originally published in November, 2017. It has since been republished with new content, photos and an updated recipe.

Tres Leches Cupcakes
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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Pauline
    12/06/2020 at 2:55 pm

    Can you sub w all purpose flour or something else? I don’t have self rising flour and it’s hard to find these days. Thanks

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      12/06/2020 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Pauline, you can use all purpose flour with 1/2 tsp baking powder and that should do the trick! Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Food Shot
    22/11/2017 at 12:27 am

    Beautiful photographs ladies! Oh, you can just taste how moist those cupcakes are. I MUST make them!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/12/2017 at 11:07 am

      Yes, you must! Go go go! 😛 🙂

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