Torta Balcarce

The torta Balcarce or postre Balcarce (pronounced bal-car-say) is a VERY popular cake from Balcarce, a city near the sea side in the province of Buenos Aires. It is now synonym of the city and can be found in most Argentine confiterias (cake shops).

The torta Balcarce is not only an absolute showstopper, it is also a medley of different flavours and textures – absolutely to die for! It is made of layers of thin sponge, dulce de leche, crushed walnuts, fresh whipped cream, crushed meringue and covered in whipped cream and desiccated coconut! WOW WOW WOW!

The thin sponge recipe is the same that would be used to also make swiss rolls (which are also very popular in Argentina – both savoury and sweet!) so if you have any left over sponge, mini swiss rolls are the way to go!

What will I need to make this incredible torta Balcarce?

  • Eggs: You will need lots and lots of eggs. Beaten eggs are the starting point for the fluffy thin sponge so you cannot do this without them. When baking it is always best to use eggs which are at room temperature
  • Caster sugar: You will add 10g of caster sugar for each egg that you are using. If you do not have caster sugar, you can use granulated sugar instead but might not be as smooth.
  • Honey: Adding honey is key to making the thin sponge very fluffy and moist. You need 10g for each egg you are using too!
  • Plain flour: You cannot use self raising flour as the sponge needs to be thin and fluffy from the beaten eggs.
  • Double cream: This is key to make the fresh whipped cream
  • Icing sugar: You cannot make fresh whipped cream without icing sugar either!
  • Walnuts: I crushed walnut halves so that they were smaller chunks
  • Dulce de leche repostero: A good dulce de leche is key to an excellent torta Balcarce. Dulce de leche repostero is simply a thicker dulce de leche used in desserts and baking. You can buy good ones from Casa Argentina or Amazon
  • Meringue shells: I bought the meringue shells from Tesco and I crushed these into smaller chunks. If you want to make your own, that is even better
  • Desiccated coconut: This is used both to top the sponge as soon as it comes from the oven but also to decorate the side of the cake. Desiccated coconut and dulce de leche are a very popular combination in Argentina and the flavours go hand in hand!

RECIPE

I used a 2 pound cake tin to assemble my cake. You could use a round cake mould too to make it. This will affect the number of sponges you will need to make though.

To make the sponge I used a large oven tray which is 33cm x 26cm in size.

Ingredients

For each sponge (I made two in two different oven trays) :

  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60g honey
  • 80g sifted plain flour

For the whipped cream:

  • 500g double cream
  • 2 tablespoon sifted icing sugar

To assemble and decorate the torta Balcarce:

  • 2 sponges
  • 400g dulce de leche repostero
  • 500g whipped cream
  • 125g crushed walnut halves
  • 6-8 meringue shells
  • 200g desiccated coconut

Instructions

To make each sponge:

You will need either an electric hand whisk or a stand mixer as it will not be the same if you try to whisk by hand.

  1. Start preheating the oven to 200 degree Celsius. Cover the oven tray with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with vegetable oil or melted butter and then coat with plenty of flour. Remove any excess flour from the parchment paper.
  2. Using either an electric hand whisk or a stand mixer, whisk the 6 eggs together until well mixed. Add the 60g of caster sugar and continue to whisk a few minutes until it is well incorporated.
  3. Add the honey to the egg and sugar mixture and continue to whisk until it has tripled in size and the mixture ribbons. This means that when you stop whisking and lift the whisk, the mixture that falls from the whisk forms a  flat, ribbon-like pattern that sits on top of the swirl for seconds and then, slowly dissolves into the rest of the mixture. With a hand whisk, this will take 10-15 minutes. Using a stand mixer should be faster.
  4. Once the ribbon stage is reached, stop whisking the mixture. Add the sifted plain flour and with a spatula, gently fold the flour into the mixture. Do not over work the mixture as you do not want to loose the lovely foam formed from beating the eggs and sugar for so long.
  5. Once all the flour has been gently folded, gently pour the mixture over the tray covered with floured parchment paper. Use the spatula to gently cover the whole tray with the mixture
  6. Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden. Once baked, remove from the oven and sprinkle with desiccated coconut to preserve the moisture. If you do not want to use desiccated coconut, you can use sugar.

To make the whipped cream:

  1. Beat the double cream and icing sugar with a hand whisk or stand mixer until a form remains standing in the whipped cream.
  2. Once whipped cream is ready, cover and place in the fridge until needed.

To assemble the torta Balcarce:

  1. Gently wet the inside of the cake tin you will use. Once wet, line the whole tin with cling film. Ensure you have enough cling film so that the cake can be lifted out of the mould. This will be useful as the cake will be put in the freezer for 3 hours for the layers to set and the cling film will allow you to demould the cake much more easily.
  2. Cut a piece of sponge to cover the base of your tin. Place the coconut covered side in the bottom of the base. Do not worry if the sponge you cut is smaller, cut pieces of sponge as needed to cover the base. You will not notice this in the finished cake
  3. Cover the sponge with a good layer of dulce de leche. It is best to use dulce de leche at room temperature however if the dulce de leche is too thick and hard, place in microwaves for a few seconds to soften.
  4. Over the layer of dulce de leche, crush walnut halves generously to cover the whole surface of the dulce de leche.
  5. Cut a second piece of sponge to cover the crushed walnut layer. Place the coconut covered side facing down.
  6. Cover the sponge layer with a generous layer of whipped cream. Crush the meringue shells on top of the whipped cream layer.
  7. Cut a third piece of sponge to cover the whipped cream and crushed meringue layers. Place the coconut covered side facing down.
  8. Repeat steps 3-5. You will end with a layer of sponge. Cover the top of the sponge with more cling film and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours, ideally three.

To decorate the torta Balcarce:

  1. Once the cake has been in the freezer for at least 2 hours, remove from the freezer. Turn the cake tin upside down on a plate so that the top becomes the bottom of the cake. Gently remove the tin (as it is frozen, you will need to allow for some air to go in first but it will come out eventually!) and then remove the cling film.
  2. Coat the the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream. Use a palette knife to remove any excess whipped cream.
  3. Once the sides are covered with whipped cream, coat the sides generously with desiccated coconut.
  4. If you have a piping bag with a swirl piping nozzle, you can decorate the top with swirls of whipped cream. Crush walnut halves and meringue shells at the top to finish decorating. You could also just decorate with icing sugar at the top!

This cake is an absolute show stopper of a cake and it is ridiculously yummy! I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and see your versions of this amazing Argentine cake!

Buen provecho! 🙂

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