Oh Chocotorta, how I love you!
I learned of Chocotortas during our last visit to Buenos Aires from Maricela from Pip In The City. I met her through blogging and we immediately fell in love with her gracious hospitality. We had brunch at Olsen, walked around Buenos Aires, and invited her over to our room at Home Hotel for a small party. She brought a chocotorta, a very simple no-bake layered “cake” consisting of chocolate cookies, dulce de leche and cream cheese. Did you get that folks? Cookies, dulce de leche and cream cheese? Needless to say this cake––a favorite of kids and mothers-who-cannot-bake––disappeared in a matter of minutes. Scratch that. Seconds.
“It’s the recipe moms make when they can’t bake. You cannot mess it up” she told me.
Now that really sounds like my kind of dessert. Excluding my adapted alfajores which I have mastered and a few cakes and cookies, I’m still trying to understand baking. When a cake recipe doesn’t require an oven you better believe I’m gonna try that first. Or at least nudge the hubby to try it.
Ok, so here’s the deal. I didn’t seek out to adultify this Argentine dessert. I’m not one of those people who needs to dress something up and make it cute. Nor did I mean to defile or fancy something that was just fine as it was. Because it’s delicious and fun and quick and easy. But after a few emails with Marcela to double check some chocotorta facts it became clear that some macgyvering would be required on my end. I had most of the ingredients for the chocotorta on hand as we stocked up at the supermercado in Buenos Aires but realized I’d be missing one of the filling ingredients. She recommended adapting the recipe and after a quick consultation with my food-styling better half we decided on adding cream to the mixture; it’d be too thick otherwise.
“I have another idea as well. Let’s add booze,” Adam said. In an effort to include more alcoholic beverages to my diet I agreed. Before long Adam was reaching for Kahlua, hazelnuts and a baking sheet and I knew he’d be adding his own touch to the cake. I moved over. I was not about to stand in his way.
Rather than build the chocotorta in a loaf pan Adam worked his food styling magic by creating little individual stacks of kahlua-soaked cookies layered with the cream cheese and dulce de leche spread. They were topped with an impromptu hazelnut brittle and before long these individual chocotortas were gone. And when I say gone I mean that I ate them all. And I’m not even really a sweetfreak. Or so I think.
Maybe it was the booze?
Chocotorta a la Adam
1 can of dulce de leche
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
chocolate cookies, see note
1/2 cup Kahlua coffee liqueur
For The Brittle
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 cup hazelnuts, whole
About the Cookies: We used a brand we brought back from Argentina that are thin, square and not overly sweet. You could use just about any cookie provided it’s the biscuit type and not a big honkin’ sweet one.
Dulce de leche filling:
Beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add cream cheese, dulce de leche and whisk until smooth. You want a very light consistency, quite different from the super thick viscosity of regular dulce de leche.
Grease a cookie sheet. In a skillet cook the sugar, water and lemon juice on high heat until amber in color, remove from the heat and mix in the hazelnuts. Pour the hazelnut mixture onto greased cookie sheets to cool, making sure to spread out the nuts to create individually coated nuts that you can use as garnish. Crumble a few of them to top the chocotorta.
Dunk the cookies in the coffee liqueur, and dunk liberally! Once soaked pipe the filling in between the cookie layers. You don’t have to do beautiful baby dollops like the photo, you can just use a plastic baggie with the corner cut off to pipe the filling on top. Kind of like a s’more. Once layered repeat until you have a nice little stack. Give them a little time to set as this allows the cookie to become even softer from the Kahlua which makes it a bit easier to eat. Top with crumbled candied hazelnuts.
Because this is a no-bake recipe you don’t need to be exact. Taste along the way, just be careful with the brittle part of the recipe. I have no idea how many this yields because I was too busy eating along the way. And if by chance you oversoak and your cookies become mush (which did not happen to me but I suppose it could), well, tough. It’s still gonna taste good.