Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chocotorta, my favorite export from Argentina!

There are few things more inspirational than the love of friends. Over the past two weeks, I've celebrated the birthdays of two dear friends, and of course, we love to mark our celebrations with food. The first birthday was my friend, Agustin, where I learned the recipe for today's treat. In Argentina, a country known for tango, empanadas and all great things beef, there is a dessert out there that combines my love of chocolate, coffee and tasty, tasty dairy, the key element preventing me from becoming a vegan. Once I learned how to do it at Agustin's house, I knew I had to re-create this near-orgasmic experience for my samba godmother, Rachel, the one person who just might love these three things more than I do. What is this tasty, no-bake, slap-your-mama delight? It's the chocotorta, Argentina's favorite icebox cake. Give yourself about 30 minutes of prep time and another 2 hours for it to chill, and you, too, will know the wonder of the chocotorta. This particular recipe is suited for a large party and can serve 15-20 people, is four layers, and fits in a 13x9 pan.

2 cups (500 mL) strong coffee
5 packages chocolate tea biscuits (preferably Chocolina by Bagley)
1 kg. bucket of dulce de leche
750 g sour cream ( this would be the equivalent of 1 1/2 of the 16 0z. size)

Brew the coffee and pour into another pot/container to cool. If the coffee is extra strong, it's fine to drop an ice cube or two in the coffee to speed up the cooling process. In a large mixing bowl, empty the container of dulce de leche and the sour cream. Mix the two until they are completely blended together into a smooth mixture that's uniform in color. Line a 13x9 pan with aluminum foil. Take the tea biscuits and dredge them through the coffee and place them in the bottom of the pan. Generously spread the dulce de leche mixture on top of the cookies and repeat the layers until the dulce de leche is gone. Top the last of the dulce de leche with one more layer of cookies and place the pan in the refrigerator for at least two hours. The longer it has to set, the better it will taste.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
-To speed up the process of soaking the tea biscuits, wet a few of them at a time instead of one at a time.
-If you'd like to know exactly how long is enough to pass the cookies through the coffee, slowly count to three, then remove them. That way, they are just soft enough to become cake-like, but not so soggy that they'll crumble inside the coffee.
-This is a cake that can withstand being in the freezer and will be just like new if left to thaw for an hour or two. The more layers you have in your chocotorta, the more time you will need to thaw it out.
-There are different variations on this recipe. Feel free to use milk in place of coffee, for example, or add some of your favorite liqueurs to the coffee for 21+ party

This recipe is proof that even in a country like Argentina, where cattle is king, there is still something in it for us veggies, and how sweet it is!