Carne and vino aside, Argentina’s gastronomic pleasures also extend to the all-important final course: dessert. Give your taste buds a delectable treat as we explore the mouth-watering desserts on offer!
As the name suggests, this is indeed a chocolate cake, although quite unlike any other. This ubiquitous sweet treat is a chocoholics dream: a multilayered cake with an Argentine twist. One layer of dark chocolate biscuit is followed by a layer of dulce de leche mixed with a cream cheese equivalent, followed by another layer of dulce de leche, and on and on it goes… The biscuits are dipped in coffee before they are added to each layer, making an already sweet cake even sweeter! Did I mention you don’t even need to bake it?
Chocotorta can be made in a variety of ways, some soak the biscuits in coffee, others in milk, or sometimes even wine; whilst some top the cake off with a layer of icing, others with dulce de leche, or, simply with a final biscuit layer. Whatever chocotorta you come across, you can be sure it will include the staples: biscuit and dulce de leche.
Not to be outdone, layer cake number two, rogel, can certainly give the chocotorta a run for its money.
This Argentine classic is a wedding cake (and café) favourite, and rightly so! An equally decadent option, this cake also hinges on the Argentine national treasure: dulce de leche.
This time, you will find it wedged between layers of crispy, paper-thin pastry. Layer upon layer is piled up until you arrive at the centrepiece, a final top layer of decadent whipped Italian meringue. The contrasting textures of crispy pastry with gooey meringue are a total success!
Queso y Dulce (de Membrillo)
Literally translating to ‘cheese and (quince) jam’, this off-beat dessert is the perfect combination of sweet and tart- with just enough sweet. For those of you who are wondering what quince is, it’s a bumpy pear-like fruit which, I have to say, has been largely underrated in the rest of the world – in fact, in 1922, American pomologist (someone who studies fruit) U. P. Hedrick lamented that, “the quince, the ‘Golden Apple’ of the ancients, once dedicated to deities and looked upon as the emblem of love and happiness, for centuries the favorite pome, is now neglected and the least esteemed of commonly cultivated tree fruits.”
In Argentina however, this is certainly not the case. It is rumoured to have been a favourite of celebrated writer Jorge Luis Borges.
The fruit is cooked and then pureed in a food processor, and, thanks to its pectin-rich flesh, sets as a firm and (handy) sliceable block. Said scrummy block is accompanied by a slice of cheese, either a hard one known as pategrás or a soft one referred to as queso cremoso. An alternative version substitutes dulce de membrillo with dulce de batata (sweet potato jam)
This traditional desert is simple and easy to make, and guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth – if it’s good enough for Borges it’s good enough for us!
Possibly one of the most well-known dessert dishes in Latin America, flan, or crème caramel as it is known in France, consists of a sweetened mix of eggs, milk, and sugar commonly flavoured with vanilla essence, and, as with most things Argentine (I’m starting to see a pattern emerge here…) topped with, you guessed it, dulce de leche.
The flan is topped with caramelised sugar whose sweetness, coupled with the dulce de leche, serves as the perfect counterpoint to the cool, creamy custard body. Requiring only four basic ingredients, it’s easy to see why flan has become a region staple.
No self-respecting list of Argentine desserts would be complete without an ode to ice cream. It is in Argentina, not Italy, that this versatile and universally recognisable dessert has been perfected, although it of course owes its heritage to the wave of Italian immigration of the late 1800s.
The abundance of heladerias (ice cream parlours) in the city is a testament to ice cream’s indisputable status as go-to dessert number one. In fact, ice cream parlours remain open until the early hours of the morning, and, amazingly, it is available on tap 24 hours a day via online delivery.
More gloopy in texture than its Italian gelato counterpart, Argentine ice cream is thought gains its unique texture and creaminess from the high quality of milk afforded by the country’s world-class cattle. Sizes range from a small cup or cone right up to an entire kilo, whilst the varieties are endless, ranging from an entire section devoted to, that’s right, dulce de leche, to chocolate, to fruit. The dizzying selection will make your head spin and the wonderfully exotic sorbets such as maracuyá -passion fruit- are not to be missed either.