Cuatro Leches Cupcakes

No, you haven’t died and gone to cupcake heaven. But hot damn, if there were such a place (fingers crossed!), I think these puppies would definitely be featured heavily. I’m getting ready to move to the Dominican Republic (excitement!) and thought I’d dabble in a regional favorite: tres leches cake. Tres leches is a super moist cake that is usually soaked in a concoction of three different types of milk. I’ve called these “cuatro leches” cupcakes because I used four different leches: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, and dulce de leche. And man-oh-man, these cupcakes mean business! So here you have it – cuatro leches cupcakes with mascarpone and orange zest buttercream frosting!

This recipe calls for 10 eggs – I know, a lot! – which makes for a very wet batter, and ultimately an awesomely moist cake. Mixing the eggs into the batter 2-3 at a time helps ensure that everything is well-blended.

Don’t you just wish you could lick the beaters clean??

Tres leches cake is not usually made in cupcake form. Generally, the cake is baked and cut into pieces and then the pieces soak in the milk mixture for about four hours in order to let the cake absorb the flavors and moisture of the leches. To make these cuatro leches cupcakes, I had to poke a bunch of little holes into each cupcake and pour the milk over top to let it soak into the cake.

I used a toothpick to punch small holes in the cupcakes once they were cool.

Three of the “leches” I used. I also used homemade dulce de leche, which is basically sweetened condensed milk that has been slowly caramelized over time. Yum!

This is the cuatro leches part of this whole gig. In a saucepan, I combined the various types of milk with some rum, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and half and half. I swear, if it was socially acceptable, I would just drink the sauce – it’s that good! (You’ll see…)

Here comes the messy part – pouring the cuatro leches over the cupcakes. I used a teaspoon and drizzled the milk ever so slowly. It’s going to be messy, but if you pour slowly enough, you should end up with more milk in the cupcake and less all over your counter.

Moist cupcakes glistening with deliciousness! Did I just type that? Yes.

Now these cupcakes would be awesome just as they are, but I didn’t stop there. I wanted to take it up a notch, and this meant making some serious frosting to top the cupcakes. Mascarpone and orange zest buttercream it is!

I like using mascarpone instead of cream cheese because the flavor is a little more subtle.

The orange zest pairs really nicely with the spices in the cuatro leches cupcakes. I think this frosting would go great with a big vanilla birthday cake too (I’m going to have to try that sometime…)

I sprinkled a little cinnamon on top for some added flavor.

So there you have it, cuatro leches cupcakes with mascarpone orange zest buttercream. Go get yourself a little slice of cupcake heaven!

Cuatro Leches Cupcakesmakes 2 dozen

Adapted from the recipe for tres leches cake by Joy the Baker


3 cups All-Purpose Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Salt

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, softened

2 cups Granulated Sugar

10 Eggs

3 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Almond Extract

1 – 12 oz. can Evaporated Milk

1 – 14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cups Coconut Milk

1/2 cups Dulce de Leche (homemade or store bought)

3/4 c Half and Half

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

3 tbsp Dark Rum

3 Cardamom Pods

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners, and prepare each liner with cooking spray. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate large bowl, cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed for about two minutes, or until fluffy and well-blended. Add the eggs, two or three at a time, and beat to combine well. Add 2 tsp of the vanilla and almond extract and mix well. The batter should be quite wet. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three separate batches and mix until just combined. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating the pans half way through, until the cupcakes are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for about half an hour. Meanwhile, prepare the milk glaze. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, dulce de leche, half and half, rum, cinnamon, cardamom, and 1 tsp vanilla. Allow the sauce to warm and then remove from heat. Using a toothpick, poke several small holes into each cupcake. Slowly spoon about 3 tablespoons of the milk sauce over each cupcake and allow the sauce to soak in. [Note: this step can be messy, so place paper towels or a plate under the cupcakes to catch excess sauce]. Refrigerate the cupcakes for about two hours and then frost, if desired.

Print This Recipe!

Mascarpone and Orange Zest Buttercreammakes about 5 cups


2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, softened

16 oz. Mascarpone Cheese, softened

4 cups Powdered Sugar

2 tsp Half and Half

Zest of 1 Orange

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, mascarpone, powdered sugar, and half and half until well combined. Fold in the orange zest with a spatula. Frost!

Print This Recipe!

One Response to “Cuatro Leches Cupcakes”
  1. Jen Moccia says:

    Great blog Larina! I loved checking out your photos and recipes! I added your blog to my google reader and will be following it – even from Africa! 🙂 Was great getting to know you and best of luck to your on your way to the DR! 🙂 Jen

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