Cuatro Leches Cupcakes - Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 24 servings

It's hard to improve on tres leches cake, but these cuatro leches cupcakes pull it off with their sweet caramel dulce de leche centers. I like to ice them with the traditional meringue topping so that the dulce de leche center is a hidden surprise, but you can also ice them with more dulce de leche. These cupcakes can be a little messy—it helps to use the cupcake liners that have a paper liner inside of a foil one. Make these a day ahead of time so that they can chill overnight in the refrigerator.

You can find dulce de leche centers in these pastries as well.


  • 1 white cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 8-ounce container of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rum or pisco
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups dulce de leche (plus extra for icing cupcakes if desired)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • Garnish: powdered cinnamon for sprinkling

Steps to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Place cake mix in bowl of standing mixer. Add eggs, sour cream, water, rum or pisco, and vegetable oil.

  3. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium, and mix one minute more, until well blended.

  4. Line cupcake pan with paper cupcake papers. (Save foil liners for later). There will be enough batter for 24 regular size cupcakes or 12 jumbo size.

  5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter.

  6. Place cupcakes in oven and bake for 5 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degrees.

  7. Bake cupcakes for 10 minutes, then check them. When they are ready, the top of the cupcake should spring back slightly when you touch it.

  8. When they are done, remove cupcakes from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

  9. Whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla.

  10. Slice a thin layer off the top of each cupcake, to make the cupcake more porous. Slowly drizzle a teaspoonful of the milk mixture over each cupcake, so that the milk soaks into the holes. A pastry brush works well for this. Continue to brush or spoon the milk mixture slowly over the cupcakes, allowing time for it to soak in.

  11. Chill the cupcakes for an hour, still in the pan.

  12. Fit a pastry bag with a wide round tip and fill bag with dulce de leche. Press the tip into the center of the cupcake and fill cupcake with about a tablespoon of dulce de leche (2 tablespoons for the jumbo cupcakes). Or if you don't have a pastry bag and tip, use the skewer to poke a larger hole in the center of the cupcake. Fill a ziplock bag with dulce de leche and seal it closed. Cut off one corner to make a small opening, and squeeze the dulce de leche out of the bag into the hole in the cupcake.

  13. To make the meringue frosting, place egg whites in the (very clean) bowl of an electric mixer, and attach the wire whisk.

  14. Place the sugar, 1/3 cup water, corn syrup, and pinch of salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.

  15. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches about 240 degrees Fahrenheit (115 degrees Celsius), or after about 3 minutes, turn on the mixer and start beating the egg whites. When the temperature reaches 248 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius), remove the syrup from the heat. The total cooking time is about 4 minutes, and the sugar syrup should make thin threads if you drizzle it off of a fork, and will have thickened.

  16. The egg whites should be forming stiff peaks. Slowly and carefully pour the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl, into the beaten egg whites. Continue to beat the meringue until it cools, about 5 minutes. Fold in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon rum if desired.

  17. Remove cupcakes from pan and place each one inside of a foil cupcake liner. Ice each cupcake with some of the meringue (or with more dulce de leche), and sprinkle with cinnamon.

  18. Chill cupcakes overnight.

Tip: If you don't have time to make the icing, you can substitute canned icing - choose a "whipped" white icing. Or top cupcakes with sweetened whipped cream.

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