Pineapple Tres Leches Cake

I may have mentioned that I was recently lucky enough to spend some time in the Aloha State…

specifically on the Garden Island of Kaua´i.

You may have also observed that I enjoy eating, and you may have concluded that this is the case wherever in the world I am.

So you’ll likely not be shocked when I tell you that I took in my fair share of Hawaiian cuisine while on island. Plus a few more fair shares to spare.

When I came home, I found myself missing the sweet, fresh flavors of the islands. I don’t know if it’s the salt air or the sandy beaches, but everything tastes so uniquely…  bursting in Hawaii.

I was desperate to match up some of those island flavors with a few of my favorite, back home desert dishes.

Pastel de Tres Leches is truly a go-to for me. Why?

1.  Tres leches cakes are infinitely adaptable. You could probably put dirty gym socks in them and everything would work out fine. Maybe not on the gym socks, but most definitely on sweet, succulent, freshly carved pineapple fruit.

2.  Tres leches cake is like mother’s milk to a dry cake-hater such as myself. You know that feeling when you take a bite of dry cake and it sticks to the roof of your mouth? There’s a sort of chalky flavor as you choke it down, and it’s all you can do to stumble over to the fridge for a glass of milk to save yourself – this never, ever, ever happens with a tres leches cake.

And finally…

3.  Tres leches cakes are so, so simple to prepare. You bake your cake, you whisk your soak, you poke your cake, you soak your cake, you top your cake, you eat your cake. That’s just silly simple, don’t you think?

Properly executed TLCs taste like a cross between freshly baked cake and bread pudding. They’re very sweet, and this one, with its fresh chunks of pineapple and fresh pineapple juice whisked into the soak, is absolutely no exception. I stored mine, well-wrapped, in the fridge and served it cool:  it was very well-received. Leis were exchanged and there may have been some hula dancing involved. It’s just so hard not to be festive when there’s a cool Pineapple Tres Leches Cake on the table.

Here’s your piece:  you may commence hula-ing.

Pineapple Tres Leches Cake

For the cake:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 c. white sugar, granulated
3 large eggs
1/3 c. whole milk
2 c. pineapple, fresh, roughly chopped

For the soak:
1- 14 oz. can sweetened, condensed milk
1- 12 fl. oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. pineapple juice, fresh
1 c. heavy cream, chilled, to finish (optional)

To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350°. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl. Cream the sugar and eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. With your mixer still running on a low speed, beat in the dry ingredients alternating with the milk and beating just until you have a uniform cake batter. Fold the pineapple pieces into the cake batter.

Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes – the top of the finished cake will be a deep golden brown and will spring back when touched lightly with your bare finger. Remove the baked cake and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare your soak in a large bowl by whisking all of the ingredients together until well blended. Once the cake has cooled, unmold it and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Using a thick skewer, poke a series of holes into the top of the cake, leaving only a 1″ border around the edges. Slowly pour the whisked soak over the top of the cake and then set the cake aside to allow it to absorb as much of the soak as possible.

I like to top my tres leches cakes with heavy whipped cream, both to cover the punched holes and because I think the chilled dairy provides a nice compliment to the sweetness of the cake. This step is optional, however. If you choose to include whipped cream on top of your cake, simply whip one cup of chilled cream using chilled beaters and a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently spread the cream over the top of the cake and serve immediately.

YIELD:  approximately 8-10 servings


  1. 15


    This looks so enticing, I’m sure one bite will make you feel like your on an isla tropical! So cute and appropriate the abbr “TLC” I always think of love when I see a tres leches cake ♥

    • susan rodriguez says

      thanks so simple yet so elegant.served this for cinco de mayo and now again for mothers day

  2. 13


    Oh yum…like tres leches isn’t good enough by itself but this is, as my daughter would say, the BOMB? I’ve never made one myself (that needs to change) but can’t help but wonder about removing cake and poking holes in the bottom for the soak and then reverting the ‘unpoked’ top back up again?

    • Meagan says

      That’s a great idea, Barbara! When I make my tres leches, I find that the poking matters but so does the amount of time that you simply let the cake sit and absorb the soak. The leches are the best part (in my opinion), and the cake needs time to lap them up. I really love your inverted poking idea – would result in a much more comely cake!

  3. 11


    Okay I am so jealous of your time in Hawaii I can barely contain myself. I’m not even sure if I can comment. Okay that’s a lie. This is too pretty not to stop and say how pretty it is.

  4. 9


    Nothing better than Hawaiian pineapple…especially if you eat it in Hawaii! Love this twist on the classic tres leches cake…yummy!

  5. 6


    I didn’t think it was possible for me to love your blog any more, and then you just went and combined my two cultures into one cake recipe! I love that you put pineapple juice in the leches. This looks like a completely delightful recipe, I cannot wait to make it! Aloha and salud! :-)

  6. 2

    T.C. says

    This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it! I also come back from Kauai with a thirst for any Hawaiian flavors in food! I love the products from Aunty Lilikoi in Kauai ( I can’t get enough of their passion fruit coconut syrup which I use on pancakes I make with dried pineapple, mac. nuts and coconut! My next idea is to put a layer of this syrup on the top of cheesecake, yum! They also make a fab wasabi passion fruit mustard that has won lots of awards, I mix it in with all my homemade dressings for salads! Thanks for keeping the ALOHA alive! Think I’ll make this cake tonight!

    • Meagan says

      Woah! Those are some seriously delicious ideas!! I’ll be checking that wasabi passion fruit mustard out ASAP – thanks for sharing!

    • Meagan says

      Sorry about that, Tammy! The post got truncated somehow, but the full recipe is now up. Thanks for catching!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>