Raw Coconut Tres Leches Caramel Cupcakes

I have always wanted to make a tres leches cake.  If you do not know what that is, tres leches means 3 milks.  It is a white cake made with milk, which is then soaked in sweet milk syrup, then topped off with sweet whipped cream.  It just sounded so delicious. I am a vanilla cake girl all the way, so it is a wonder I have not attempted to make any until now.  I know for a while I wondered how it could be done vegan, but that was years ago, and now I am confident most classics can be veganized and rawified.  A couple months back I saw a vegan coconut tres leches caramel layer cake and it sounded so amazing I had to try and make my own raw version.  I told Eric I was going to make one, and was going to but then I got a bit side tracked with other dessert recipes and the Holidays which require things a bit more festive so they were put off.  Until this week.
I decided that it was about time, and now Christmas is over so it was time for Tres Leches!  I made a vanilla cake batter with coconut milk that was so good, I could not stop eating it.  So...let's just say it made a few less cupcakes (which was ok, because I still got to enjoy it, and no worries about raw egg with raw vegan).   They smelled marvelous when dehydrating as well.  I love the sweet aroma of vanilla cake!  When they came out of the dehydrator, I cut a hole for the caramel filling they were to contain, and I soaked them with a bit of sweet coconut syrup.
I filled them with gooey decadent caramel, and topped them off with luscious vanilla coconut "whipped cream" frosting which was way better than any dairy whipped cream.  Let me tell you...I was so excited to bite into one.  The aroma was making me salivate.  I bit into one and it immediately put me in my happy place.

They had it all.  Cakey, creamy, sweet and gooey.  I know this is not exactly traditional tres leches, but I am a non-traditional girl and I say they were pretty amazing.  They were a hit with my taste testers as well (my picky mother and boyfriend who prefers chocolate) so that made me happy.  If you are going to make any of my cupcake recipes, you should make these.  They are my favorite so far.

Raw Coconut Tres Leches Caramel Cupcakes
Makes 12

2 cups raw sprouted buckwheat flour, sprouted oat flour or sprouted quinoa flour
2/3 cup ground flaxseed

2 1/2 cups finely shredded dried coconut
1/4 tsp sea salt
2  tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup young coconut meat
1 cup soft medjool dates, pitted (soaked in filtered water for 30 minutes if not soft, then drained)
1/2 cup raw coconut nectar
1 1/4 cups raw coconut milk
Soaking Syrup:
1 Tbsp coconut butter, warmed to liquid
2 Tbsp coconut water at room temperature
2 Tbsp coconut nectar

2 cups young coconut meat
1/4  cup coconut water
3 Tbsp raw coconut nectar or agave nectar
1/4  tsp sea salt
seeds of one vanilla bean, or 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid

1 cup soft medjool dates, pitted (soaked in water for 30 minutes if not soft and drained well)
3 Tbsp raw coconut butter
3 Tbsp maple syrup or raw coconut nectar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp filtered water as needed

Combine quinoa flour,  flaxseed, coconut flour, sea salt, in a large bowl and whisk together until and set aside. To a food processor, add the dates, vanilla, coconut and coconut milk, and nectar to the processor and process until pretty smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth with a sturdy spoon (wooden works well) and well incorporated (the batter will be stiff, so you might want to use your stand mixer if you have one (if your batter is too stiff, add a little more coconut milk until it is the consistency of thick brownie batter.  Sometimes young coconuts vary in dryness so you may need a little more if that is the case).  Spoon the batter into 12 standard sized foil muffin tins (mounded as they do not rise) and place on a dehydrator sheet.  Dry for about 18-20 hours (until dry but still a little moist), then remove from the dehydrator.  Cut a divet into the top of each cupcake (about 1 Tbsp) and discard the piece you cut out (or eat it, which is what I do). Set aside while you make the syrup.
To make the soaking syrup, whisk together all ingredients until smooth, and brush the divets in the cupcakes with the syrup.  Allow to soak in.
Meanwhile, to make the frosting, combine all ingredients but the coconut butter and oil in a food processor and process until smooth.  With the motor running, add the coconut butter and process a minute more.  Pour the cream into a bowl and let sit in the freezer for about half an hour to 45 minutes or so until the consistency of whipped cream then place in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the caramel filling, combine all ingredients except water in a food processor and process until smooth (adding a little more water if too thick). Spoon the caramel into the divets in the cupcakes (reserving the rest for the tops).

Place the frosting in a pastry bag and pipe over the cupcakes (or spread it over if you wish).  Place the remaining caramel in a pastry bag with a small tip (or a plastic bag with the corner cut off) and decoratively pipe over the frosting.  Store in fridge.

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About the Author

I am a vegan girl who loves to make healthier desserts and dishes with lots of veggies. Recipes are meant to be shared, that is why I started blogging!

  1. December 30, 2013 at 22:45

    these look amazing!<br />

    • January 2, 2014 at 03:01

      Thank you :)!

    • December 31, 2013 at 22:47

      Thanks Lisa :)!

  2. January 1, 2014 at 20:04

    Question, Amy. Do you have to use the dehydrator (I don't have one) or can the cupcakes be baked? I'm a novice, but have several gluten-free relatives now and would like to try this delicious sounding recipe!<br />SusanK.

    • January 2, 2014 at 03:00

      You can bake them if you do not mind them being raw. Just set your oven at the lowest temperature and prop the door open with a ball of foil or a wooden spoon and use the oven fan if you have one. It will probably take about half the time to dehydrate as well, because the oven is hotter.

  3. January 4, 2014 at 20:06

    These cupcakes look delicious, especially the frosting!

    • January 5, 2014 at 00:46

      Thank you :)!

  4. April 10, 2014 at 00:36

    Hi Amy! Question for you, what do you use when putting these into the dehydrator to dehydrate? For example, do you put the batter into cupcake foils that are placed in a standard cupcake baking pan? And then place that standard cupcake baking pan in the dehydrator to dehydrate? Or do you just put the batter into cupcake foils and then put those into the dehydrator? My concern is that the weight of the batter will not hold in the cupcake foils and therefore, they need to be in cupcake pans when dehydrated. Please let me know how you did this step.

    • April 10, 2014 at 12:54

      No need to even put the tins in a pan. I simply use the pan when filling them (just so they remain shaped for the time being) then take them out and dehydrate them sitting on the dehydrator tray. They hold their shape on the tray if you use foil tins. Don't use paper.

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