My aunties didn’t bake a lot, so when it was time for cake they often made torta de galletas, a layered biscuit “cake”. I have vivid memories of me helping make the icing in their vintage stand mixer and, most importantly, licking the icing off the beaters. Of course, I also helped assemble the cake and waited patiently until the next day, when the biscuits had absorbed all the moisture and the cake had a much better structure.
My auntie Sumi passed away a few weeks ago. She was a great cook and she was a very kind, loving auntie. It was hard to think of a particular dish that reminds me of her because I’m pretty sure she cooked the bulk of the food my sisters and I ate growing up. Then I remembered I had copied one recipe from her notebook before moving to Australia, the recipe for torta de galletas.
The original recipe uses margarine and 1kg (!) of icing sugar for the icing. It also uses regular caramel (made by boiling a can of condensed milk), which I figured would be way too sweet. I used butter and a more reasonable amount of coconut sugar for the icing, and made the caramel with coconut milk and pitted dates. I also used gluten-free vanilla biscuits, which I found out crumble a lot more than regular biscuits, making the assembly process a bit more fiddly. The end result wasn’t as good as my auntie’s but it did remind me of her.
Gluten-free torta de galletas (biscuit cake)
Yield: about 16 servings
- 250g butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp cacao powder (or coffee or liquor) diluted in boiling water
- 1 egg
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 3/4 to 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 150g shredded or dessicated coconut
- 250g chopped walnuts
- 1 kg vanilla biscuits
- 2 cups of milk (any type)
- Whisk all ingredients together (you can use a mixer, food processor or do it by hand).
- Soak the dates in boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Drain well and blend with coconut milk and vanilla.
- Heat in a saucepan until thickened to a spreadable consistence.
- Count the biscuits and divide the total by 6 or 8. The result will be how many biscuits you will use per layer.
- Form a layer of biscuits soaked in milk.
- Spread caramel on top of the biscuits, topped with walnuts and coconut.
- Add a layer of biscuits soaked in milk.
- Spread icing, topped with walnuts and coconut.
- Continue until you have 6 to 8 layers of biscuits (should end with icing).
- Refrigerate overnight to allow the biscuits to absorb the moisture.