Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Layers of lightened-up coconut cake have been soaked in tres leches, or "three milks."  Inspired by the Latin American dessert, this layer cake version is frosted in clouds of whipped cream sweetened with condensed milk and then garnished with toasted coconut for added flavor and texture.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Living in California, most everything thing “Spanish” growing up was associated with Mexico.  I remember my high school Spanish teacher giving lessons on Latin and Hispanic culture, beyond just the language and Mexico.  She explained to the very Caucasian, suburban co-eds in my class that in Spain, some Spaniards even have light eyes/hair and could even look like some of us (as she gestured right toward me).  I replied, that in fact, I am part Hispanic.  Puerto Rican, in fact, with roots all the way back to Barcelona and Madrid.   

I’ll be the first to admit that I am pretty pale.  Living in Canada and using a liberal amount of sunscreen doesn’t help, but I’ve spent most of my life with people assuming that I am just white.  To be fair, I look just like my dad (who is 100% German) so it is hard to tell until I talk about my family or you spot me with my mother.  My mom is Filipino and Puerto Rican.  I’ve shared stories about my Filipino family from Hawaii and my island-inspired recipes many times before, but not many from my grandmother's side until now...

Coconut Tres Leches Cake
Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Long ago, my great great grandmother Amelia (my middle-namesake) grew up in Barcelona, but eventually migrated to Puerto Rico where she met and married my great great grandfather from Madrid. Once they started a family, they found themselves in New York before eventually settling down in Arizona, where my grandmother was born.  My grandma used to joke about getting the raw end of the deal and not getting to grow up in Spanish Harlem like most Puerto Rican immigrants at the time – assuming that living in New York City would have been much more fun than working in the agricultural fields of Arizona. 

At one point, my grandma lived with her own grandmother who spoke only Spanish.  In the end, my grandmother was fluent in both Spanish and English and turned this skill into her career.  She taught at the elementary school for years, helping the ESL students learn to read and write in English.  I would love to be fluent in Spanish too, but I remember her teaching me some basics in the car ride down to Southern California to visit great great grandma Amelia when I was a child.  I remember this actually coming in handy with Amelia when hanging out and watching game shows together in her late 90’s.  She would end up living to the age of 103!

The Puerto Rican branch of my family tree is a mixed bag.  I have aunts with red hair and other relatives that are even paler than I am.  Some have darker features, but it really goes to show that you never really know what someone’s background is sometimes.  Take me and my brother - I look just like our dad and my bro a bit more European.  One thing is for sure though, I got my crazy, unruly curls from my Puerto Rican side!

Like I mentioned before, we sadly didn’t celebrate this part of our heritage as much growing up.  However, the parts I do remember were always full of music and dancing.  My grandmother LOVED all types of music.  It must run in the family, as her grandmother was always playing music as does my own mom, typically accompanied by dancing all around the living room.  Without sounding horribly stereotypical, but maybe all Puerto Ricans enjoy music? Perhaps that is why West Side Story and In the Heights are soooo good, hehe. I guess I’ll have to bring Ev down to Salsa Sundays in Robson Square and teach him the merengue.

One piece of our culture that I really wish I knew more about is the food.  We ate paella in Barcelona when we took my grandmother to visit when I was a teenager, but beyond that, I am pretty unfamiliar.  Luckily, that’s where this Coconut Tres Leches comes into play.  Although not necessarily native to Puerto Rico, this creamy, dreamy cake hails from Latin America and is becoming increasingly more popular by all.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake
Coconut Tres Leches Cake
Coconut Tres Leches Cake

I made this recipe for The Cake Blog.  Here is a bit more of what I have to say about it:

The Latin American dessert, the Tres Leches Cake, inspired this culinary creation. It gets its name, meaning “three milks,” from the tree different types of milk that the cake is soaked in. This version in particular is of the coconut variety, calling for full-fat coconut milk in the cake and as a replacement for the heavy cream in the milk soak. Top the assembled cake toasted coconut flakes, if desired!

Tres leches is typically baked in a sheet pan, but you know I had to go and give a layer cake twist!  Instead of an airy sponge laden with three types of cream, I used a lightened-up butter cake for a bit more structure but paired it with clouds of freshly whipped cream.  A bit of leftover condensed milk from the soak helps sweeten up and stabilize the cream. 

Find the recipe on The Cake Blog!

Frozen Raspberry Cashew Cake

Vibrant raspberry sauce tops this decadent frozen cashewmilk cake studded with fresh berries atop a nutty no-bake crust. A creamy vegan, gluten-free frozen treat for summer!

Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, diary, and egg free.

At the height of summer, when you just can’t bare to turn on the oven, it is essential to be prepared with an arsenal of frozen, no-bake desserts.  Topping my growing list of refreshing treats to combat the heat is this Frozen Raspberry Cashew Cake! 

Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.
Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.

As I’ve mentioned before, when ever I stumble upon a gluten-free or vegan recipe that I can’t help but share, it is not because I abide by any particular diet, but that it just happens to taste amazing that way.  Most of the recipes on this website are riddled with butter and cream, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that is how I eat in my own day to day.  Sure, I am constantly trying out new recipes for cake/pie/etc and sneak countless sample slices, but I try to find balance with the other meals and snacks I provide for my family. 

For this recipe, I took a page from some of my favorite alternative health blogs to create this no-bake dessert.  Similar to a raw, frozen cheesecake, this dessert layers a walnut-date crust, creamy cashew frozen dessert studded with fresh raspberries, and a vibrant raspberry puree.  Dairy-free decadence for breezy, summer living!

A non-dairy dessert that is actually creamy?  You bet! From a girl that loves butter as much as I do, trust me when I say that this cashewmilk based frozen dessert is every bit dreamy and delightful.  With a touch of fair-trade vanilla and pinch of sea salt (I added a pinch to crust as well – so good!), you might be tempted to eat it all straight from the container.  But don’t!  Together, this recipe is beyond easy to pull together and almost everything is better in layer cake form – aim I right?

Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, diary, and egg free.
Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.
Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.
Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.

Frozen Raspberry Cashew Cheesecake
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
pinch sea salt
2 containers So Delicious Creamy Cashew Cashewmilk Frozen Dessert (500 ml each)
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon raw honey, maple syrup, or sweetener of choice

Remove the frozen dessert from the refrigerator to soften.  Set aside.

Place the walnuts, dates, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until finely chopped and the mixture begins to stick together.  Pack the mixture into the bottom of a 6-inch springform pan. 

Once the frozen dessert has softened a touch (you may microwave in increments of 10-15 seconds, if necessary), spread the contents of one container on top of the crust.  Place about ½ cup of fresh raspberries into the frozen dessert then top with the second container.  Use a piece of plastic wrap to press the top until smooth.  Cover and freeze.

Meanwhile, make the raspberry layers.  Puree 1 cup raspberries and sweetener of choice.  Remove the plastic wrap and spread the raspberry layer on top of the cashew layer.  Recover and freeze until solid

Before serving, removed the cake from the freezer.  Carefully run the edges of the pan under warm water then release the cake from the springform pan.  Top with the remaining raspberries and serve!

To help slice the cake, run the blade of a knife under hot water before cutting. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of So Delicious. The opinions and text are all mine.

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Marble Macarons with Earl Grey Buttercream and Pink Lemonade Filling

Swirly royal icing transforms these fancy-pants French macarons into fun, whimsical treats.  The classic pastries are filled with Earl Grey buttercream, lemon cream, and raspberry jam.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

I’ve always been fairly artistic, so when I signed up for a watercolor class one summer at UC Davis, I thought it would be a breeze.  Up until then, I had trained in performing arts my entire life and had dabbled in acrylic painting in my free time.   Even children play with watercolors, so how hard could it be?  I was tragically mistaken.  Watercolor painting is extremely difficult, or at least when trying to manipulate water and paint into sometime remotely recognizable.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

I purchased all of the necessary supplies on the course list before class started and picked my seat at one of the tilted drawing tables with confidence.  As I looked around, I think my brushes were the only ones in the classroom that were unused, paints unopened, and palette completely clean of remnants of past projects.  Throw in some water, and I knew I was doomed. 

I was quickly humbled by colleagues’ abilities and grace working with this impossible medium.  I chose to paint things like abstract flowers while others were creating landscapes, one simple stroke at a time.  I felt like they were all working with the water, while I was trying to control it.  Our final project was a pond of koi fish.  I think mine is stashed away, still half-complete, somewhere in my parents’ storage unit… I’m not one to give up quickly, and I still play around with my paints from time to time, focusing on gradients, lettering, and whimsical little illustrations, but mainly I work with sugar and butter to fulfill my intrinsic artistic needs.

Growing up a dancer, I’ve always had a creative outlet.  I studied all disciplines of dance and musical theater (plus a few years of percussion) all the way through college.  As the style of dance transitioned from classical ballet to my college jazz team to contemporary/modern, my adult body could no longer keep up.  I started getting migraines in my mid-twenties and the movement associated with contemporary dance triggered my motion sickness.  Eventually I had to cut back and find a new way to express myself. 

Enter cake and pastry.  Just as I was leaving the world of dance that had consumed my previous 20+ years of life, I found my passion for baking.  Where I could no longer move and flex my body the way I wanted it to, I started to manipulate sugar.  I ended up throwing all of my energy into my new cake business, and the rest is history!  

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

For this recipe, I wanted to go bold and bright – something undeniably FUN for summer.  I fell in love with the whimsical designs of Meghan Rohsko of Nutmeg and Honeybee earlier this year and her ability to create edible art from sugar cookies and macarons.  Both finicky and fanciful, classic French macarons are typically perceived as these pristine little jewels, sitting unnecessarily high on their perfect pedestals.  Meghan’s use of vibrant colors and textures goes well beyond tradition and make macarons a bit more approachable and fun. 

Don’t get me wrong, baking perfect macarons can definitely be tricky - they have an elitist aura about them for a reason.  I’ve gone on about my quest to master these little pastries before, and I know I am not the only one out there to have a love/hate relationship for these little buggers.  In an effort to manipulate sugar in yet a new way, I wanted to decorate the actual shells of the macarons.  Made of mainly egg whites and almond flour, these crispy shells are temperamental and delicate.  A few drips of water, and they are ruined.  I’ve tried painting on them with petal dust mixed with alcohol, but I wanted to test out royal icing this time around.  Inspired by some of Meghan’s sugar cookies and macarons, I created these marble macarons! 

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

Using summer palettes of pink and yellow for my Pink Lemonade macarons and teal and sky blue for my Earl Grey macarons, a few drops of gel food coloring turned these plain shells into swirly, whimsical treats.  A quick bath in the colourful icing and it’s instant edible art!  Much easier than painting a watercolor fish, I promise, and much more fun, too.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

For the Shells
200 grams ground almond flour
200 grams powdered sugar
200 grams granulated sugar
50 grams water
140 grams egg whites (from about 4 large eggs)
gel food coloring of choice

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicon mats and set aside.  Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the mixtures registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and let rest for about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs whites with an electric mixer until medium-soft peaks.  If using a stand mixer, begin whisking on high when the sugar mixture hits about 210 degrees. 

Once the sugar mixture is hot and the eggs are whipped, keep the mixer running on high speed and carefully pour in the sugar.  Pour in the sugar slowly and try to keep it from hitting the whisk to prevent hot sugar splatters.  Continue to mix on high until the outside of the mixer bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes).  During the last minute or so, add in the gel food coloring, if desired.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Using a large, rubber spatula, begin folding in the meringue mixture into the almond flour mixture in three batches.  Use large, deliberate folds – turning the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl up to the top.  Continue to fold and smooth out the batter until it falls like thick lava off of the spatula – not too stiff and not too runny.  Rotate the bowl as you fold and smear the mixture against the sides of the bowl with spatula to smooth.  Do not over-mix.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip with the macaron batter.  Pipe out uniform rounds of the batter, about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, on the prepared baking sheets.  When done, rap the bottoms of the baking sheets a few times against a safe work surface to knock out any air bubbles. 

Allow the piped macarons to rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops feel dry to the touch and are not too sticky.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  When done, the tops of the macarons should "jiggle" slightly but still feel attached to the base.  Cool the macarons on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before  carefully pealing them off the parchment paper or baking mat.

For the Lemon Cream Filling 
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined.  Slowly add in the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.  Beat on medium until fluffy – about 30 seconds or so.

Royal Icing
1 egg white
1 ½ cups confections sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg white on medium until frothy.  Gradually add in the sugar and turn the mixer up to medium-high.  Continue to mix until soft, glossy peaks.  Add in the lemon and mix until combined.  Stir in water, a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, as needed.  The royal icing should be fairly runny, similar to Elmer’s glue.

royal icing
gel food coloring
raspberry jam
Earl Grey buttercream (half of this recipe)

Match all of the macarons by size and set on a baking sheet.  Only the tops will be decorated, while only the bottoms will be filled.  Set aside.

Divide the royal icing into two bowls.  Using a toothpick, dot the top of the royal icing with gel food coloring – two to three colors in each bowl.  Gently swirl to combine.  Holding the edges with your fingertips, dip the tops of the macaron shells into the royal icing.  Swirl, lift, and shake, allowing the excess icing to drip off.  Place the shell, icing side up, on a baking sheet and gently tap to get rid of any air bubbles.  Clean up the sides as needed with a clean fingertip or paintbrush and allow to dry – at least 4 hours.

Pipe the filling on the bottom shells.  To create the Pink Lemonade macarons, pipe a ring of lemon cream around the edges, then fill with about ¼ - ½ teaspoon raspberry jam.  Pipe on the Earl Grey buttercream with a medium star or round tip.  Do not overfill or pipe directly to the edges.  Place the tops on the filling and gently press together until the filling flattens and reaches the edges.

It is common practice to let the macarons “mature” for 24 hours – allowing the flavors and textures to develop.  If you are like me, then enjoy at your leisure (like immediately after, hehe).

This design was heavenly inspired by Meghan of Nutmeg and Honeybee.  Be sure to give her a shout out and follow her YouTube Channel!



Chocolate Cherry Pavlova

Baked meringue provides a light and crispy bed for pillowy, almond-scented whipped cream, fresh cherries, and a shower of chocolate shavings.  A heavenly treat for summer!

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

That 16-hour plane ride to Sydney surely gives you a lot of time to build up expectations.  Thankfully, the trip did not disappoint – even in July (their winter). 

After I graduated from university, my family and I went way down under.  A trip to Australia!  How freakin' amazing is that?!?!?  I honestly didn’t know what to really except.  Would it be like cities in America or parts of Great Brittan but with a different accent?  Is it more tropical island-like with its many beaches and abundant wild life?  And why did we come during our summer – would it rain the entire time?  The trip was a decade ago this summer, so please forgive any lapses in my memory or ignorant generalisations. 

The best way I can describe the experience was that is was similar to going to a clean, modern, English-speaking country in Europe, where everything feels almost the same as home but then you turn the corner and see a peculiar food item or hear an unfamiliar phrase in an accent that is not your own.  Kind of like living in Vancouver and it feeling almost like any other major city in the US, until you spot the colourful Monopoly money or a bag of ketchup chips while hearing someone say "decal" instead of sticker, but pronouncing it de-kel instead of di-kal.  In fact, Vancouver reminds me of a mixture of Melbourne’s cosmopolitan city life and the scenic, waterfront of Sydney.  Both have similar climates, modern glass high-rises, and friendly locals, too!

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.
Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.
Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

I wish I could say that I saw a koala bear or a kangaroo in the wild, but most of our time was spent in the cites of Sydney and Melbourne.  Some of the highlights include: climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, taking a harbour boat tour, standing in awe in front of the opera house, attending a rugby match then running for the train after (as we learned that when the first train fills up, it may take forever until another arrives), hitting up the Lindt Chocolate Café, Bondi Beach (I snapped an awesome pic that was the desktop photo on my old computer for years!), the river walk in Melbourne, and more.  I know I didn’t even scratch the surface and mostly indulged in touristy things, but it was truly an amazing trip in a gorgeous country.  I’d go back any day – despite the longest plane ride ever (although I have to say that those Melona popsicle Kiwanis gives out mid-flight is a nice touch).

Food wise, I remember eating passion fruit EVERYTHING with reckless abandon.  Judging from this cake and these popsicles, you can probably tell that I have a thing for tangy passion fruit.  I recall going to a market for breakfast that was kind of like a fancy food court and ordering yogurt covered in fresh passion fruit pulp and my first ever flat whites daily.  

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

One of my favorite Aussie foods that I still enjoy baking today is the pavlova.  Some say it originated in New Zealand while other claim Australia.  All I know is that it is down right delicious.  The light and crisp meringue shell, sweetened whipped cream, and fresh, seasonal fruit – what is there not to love? When the cooler months have us craving more comforting treats laden with caramel sauce or decadent ganache, summer calls for something on the lighter side.  This recipe in particular calls for flecks of real vanilla bean, almond cream, fresh cherries, and a shower of chocolate shavings, but feel free to change up the flavor of the cream and use your favorite fruit.  There really is no reason why we shouldn’t be making these pillows of glory goodness all summer long!  Head on over to the West Elm Blog for the recipe.

Surely I am not giving Australian or its cuisine much justice.  How much can you really learn and appreciate about a culture in such a short amount of time?  Two of my favorite dessert bloggers just happen to hail from Australia.  I strongly urge you all to go check out Sarah’s The Sugar Hit blog and Thalia’s Butter and Brioche blog. And please forgive me ladies for not doing anything remotely “cool” while I was there.  Next time, will you please show me around? 


Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

Passion Fruit Layer Cake

Tart, vibrant passion fruit pulp is transformed into luscious, creamy curd and brings this tender to cake to life. Subtle coconut flavors and a slight tang from the cream cheese in the frosting round out the brightness of the passion fruit.

Passion fruit layer cake with coconut and cream cheese frosting.

Dreaming of a tropical getaway this summer but stuck in the city?  Why not bring some island flavor to you instead!  Passion fruit has got to be one of my favorite flavors.  Pair it with tender coconut cake and a bit of cream cheese frosting, and I just might forget that we are sans summer vacay this year.

Based off all of your kind, enthusiastic comments from my Watercolor Cake post earlier this week, it looks like I am not the only one obsessed with this whimsical buttercream effect.  Using a color palette to match the golden passion fruit interior, this cake looks just like the tropical sunsets of my dreams!  If you didn't get a chance to see how this design is achieved, be sure to check out my GIF here!

Passion fruit layer cake with coconut and cream cheese frosting.
Passion fruit layer cake with coconut and cream cheese frosting.
Passion fruit layer cake with coconut and cream cheese frosting.

Remember those Passion Fruit Popsicles I made a few weeks ago for #PopsicleWeek 2016?  Well this is the curd that I used to swirl with cream mascarpone.  Find the complete recipe over on the West Elm Blog!  I have a few other special treats for West Elm coming up for fabulous summer entertaining, so keep a look out for those!

Passion fruit layer cake with coconut and cream cheese frosting.

In other food news…

It’s time for the annual Savuer Magazine blog awards!  Click here to quickly nominate your favourite blogs (hopefully Style Sweet CA is one of them, hint hint – xoxo).

Beating the heat with some refreshing sips this summer?  Check out my tips for photographing cocktails and cold beverage over on Food Bloggers of Canada. 

Who else pre-ordered Molly Yeh’s new book this week?  I did and couldn’t be more excited to get my copy of Molly on the Range come October.  In the meantime, I will enjoying my pre-order gift, yay!

My dear friend Lyndsay’s Craftsy class is super adorable and you should definitely check it out!  If you enjoy her designs on Coco Cake Land, then you will certainly love her Playful Animal Cake Class!

I am DYING over the idea of this Black Sesame Cake on Hummingbird High.  Bravo, Michelle!

Lily made this gorgeous Sage Blueberry Pie to accompany an even more beautiful post.  And now I can’t stop thinking about making more pie and lattice designs for the weekend.  

Jessica put together her fave recipes for the 4th of July on How Sweet Eats, but they are certainly great for the rest of summer too!  Personally, I can't get enough of her recipes lately - yumm!!

Lastly, I finally made my way over to Snapchat.  Come follow along at StyleSweet CA!  Happy Weekend =)

Passion fruit layer cake with coconut and cream cheese frosting.