Red Velvet Tres Leches Cake With Brainy Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons super red food coloring
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • Red gel food coloring


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and set the oven rack in the middle. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until incorporated.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and butter. With a hand mixer, cream together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and buttermilk, beating until combined. Add the oil, vinegar and food coloring. Beat on medium-low speed until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 33 to 38 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, and cool on a cooling rack for 20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, prepare the tres leches. Whisk together the milks and the cream.
  6. Using a skewer, poke holes in the cooled cake. Pour the tres leches evenly over the cake, allowing it to seep into the holes. Refrigerate.
  7. To make the frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating after each addition. Transfer the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a size 4 small round tip. Refrigerate the frosting for 20 minutes.
  8. To make the cake pops: Assemble the cake pop mold according to package instructions.
  9. Insert the open end of a plastic mold into the cake and twist to remove a section of cake. Using a spoon, press the cake to the bottom of the mold, then push it into the cake again to fill. Repeat with 9 more of the cake pop molds to make 10 total. (You can make more pops by spooning the remaining cake pieces into the molds and pressing down.)
  10. Pipe a thin layer of the frosting onto the top of each cake to cover. In two sections (right and left brain), pipe connecting “c” and “s” shapes to look like a brain. Freeze for 20 minutes to harden.
  11. Put a small drop of red food coloring in a small bowl. Add water to dilute until a faint red. Brush the watercolor over the brain frosting to tint it red.
  12. Put a small drop of red food coloring in a separate small bowl. Using a fine-point paintbrush, dip the tip into the food coloring and paint only the outlines of the brain.