Chocotorta: The Argentinian No-Bake Cake Uses Only 4 Ingredients

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Celebrations in Argentina call for chocotorta! Chocotorta is a layered, no-bake dessert that's definitely greater than the sum of its parts. It starts with a particular brand of chocolate cookies called Chocolinas, made by an Argentinean company called Bagley's, billed as "The largest biscuit company in South America." Chocolinas are ubiquitous in Argentina, though in the U.S., you might need to stop in a Latino grocery or order from Amazon. It's worth noting that the Chocolinas cookies sold on Amazon include a recipe for chocotorta. The dessert seems to be their reason for existing.

Argentinian-born Nadine Zylberberg, writing for Heated, describes Chocolinas cookies as "woven into the fiber of our culture," though they're not exactly delicious straight from the package. She explains, "The cookies are forgettable on their own: they're chalky, dry, and leave crumbs everywhere." Yet, despite her feelings about Chocolinas on their own, she teases readers by claiming, "As a kid, I knew one thing for sure: If I found a purple cellophane wrapper on the kitchen counter, it would be a good day." Why did the package of forgettable cookies make Zylberberg so happy? Because they meant chocotorta.

Creative Culinary explains that chocotorta isn't necessarily something you'll find on the menu in restaurants in Argentina; instead, it's a homemade treat, something parents make to celebrate a child's birthday or to accompany home-cooked celebratory meals. So what exactly goes into a chocotorta?

You only need four ingredients for chocotorta

America's Test Kitchen breaks down just how simple the chocotorta is. Simply soak the Chocolinas in cold coffee and layer them in a baking dish. Between the layers of coffee-soaked cookies goes a heavenly mixture of dulce de leche and cream cheese or sour cream. This no-bake dessert goes into the refrigerator for a few hours to firm up and let all the flavors blend, and then it's sliced and served. ATK recommends it for summertime celebrations since you won't heat the house up with the oven, and you'll have a chilled made-ahead sweet treat.

There's a folklore-tinged tale about the origins of chocotorta, according to Authentic Food Quest and Creative Culinary. It's purported to date back to 1982, when Marité Mabragaña, creative director for the largest Argentinian advertising agency, devised a brilliant promotion for three separate clients. Her firm represented cream cheese brand Mendicrim, Chocolinas cookies, and an Argentinian-style dulce de leche. Mabragaña developed the recipe for chocotorta in her home kitchen, brought it in to share with her colleagues, and an ad campaign — in the form of a dessert — was born.

Chocotorta has many variations

While you can purchase your dulce de leche in a can or a jar, either from an online retailer or in the Latino foods section of your grocery store, you can also make your own from a can of sweetened condensed milk. The version of chocotorta from The Floured Table calls for homemade chocolate cookies and a rich layer of chocolate ganache to top the final layer of cookies and cream cheese-dulce de leche mixture.

While the traditional recipe calls for the Chocolinas to be soaked in chilled coffee, many cooks put their unique stamp on chocotorta by using a variety of delicious liquids. The Spanish-language version of the chocotorta recipe from the Bagley Chocolinas cookbook calls for soaking the cookies in chocolate milk. Creative Culinary recommends adding a bit of Kahlua to the coffee before soaking the cookies. Chocotorta would be even more delicious if you added a bit of your own homemade coffee liqueur. Whatever your celebration, chocotorta is the perfect, easy, no-bake finish for the meal.