Day of the Dead Pumpkin Spice Tres Leches Cake | Colavita

Day of the Dead Pumpkin Spice Tres Leches Cake

By Elana Iaciofano • October 30, 2018

Tres Leches cake is a sponge cake made with three (tres) milks: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream—a heavy hitter in the dairy department and not for the faint of heart. The sponge cake is prepared and baked separately, and then sweet combination of milks is poured into the baked cake and allowed to soak overnight. 

The result is decadent. 

It’s downright indulgent.

It’s like someone pre-dunked your cake into a glass of milk.

It’s….dare I say…to die for?

Which brings me to the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. The Day of the Dead is a religious festival of Mexican origin that is celebrated over a couple of days—from October 31 to November 2nd. 

It’s a time reserved for honoring and paying respect to deceased family members. There's dancing, elaborate costumes and makeup, parades and parties. Gravesites and altars are decorated, and family members leave offerings for their departed loved ones. Many times, food is left as an offering.

Tres Leches cake was born in the culinary traditions South and Central America, so it’s a perfect dessert for a Day of the Dead celebration. AND, as an added bonus, this cake is made with olive oil instead of butter. Here at Colavita, we have a special preference for any baked goods made with olive oil.

For this version of tres leches, we jazzed our flavor profile up with a little pumpkin spice—perfect for the season and your latte…

Fortunately, our Pumpkin Spice Tres Leches cake is incredibly easy to make. And even easier to eat… meaning there might not be any left for offerings.


  • After pouring the batter into the cake pan, tap the pan on the table to even out the batter.
  • Don’t be afraid to make the holes more than just pin pricks, you really want the milks to soak in.
  • Pour the mixture over the cake in batches, spreading it over the cake with a spatula to make sure it all seeps in.
  • Once soaked, chilling the cake overnight is best as it allows maximum time for the cake to absorb the milks.
  • Place a medium metal bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes before you make the whipped cream. Cream will whip up faster in a cold bowl.
  • Use a mini wire mesh strainer to create an even powdered effect.


Prep time: 4-24 hours (including refrigeration time)
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yields: 1 9"x13" cake


For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup Colavita Pure Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 12oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup half-and-half

For the whipped cream topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish with Colavita Olive Oil
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  4. In a separate, larger bowl, combine the sugar, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin.
  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing very well after each addition.
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix well.
  7. Spread the batter into the prepared baking dish.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Then invert it onto a serving plate.
  10. Use a fork to poke holes across the surface of the cake.
  11. In a large measuring cup or pitcher, whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and half and half.
  12. Pour it very slowly and gradually over the cake, allowing time to let it seep into the fork holes.
  13. Cover and refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  14. Finally, prepare the spiced cream.
  15. Beat the cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until peaks form.
  16. Spread evenly over the cake.
  17. Dust extra cinnamon over the top, if desired.
  18. Serve!

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