The holiday is not just about been with the family and celebrates all the good things we got through the year, but also to eat as much as we can. There are so many traditional desserts around the world to celebrate this season, here in Venezuela we have dulce de lechosa, el dulce de higos, la rosca/roscón, as many others, but is the Torta Negra who are, by excellence, the dessert that bright the table of many Venezuelans during December time. As it, there isn’t a true history about the invention, or import, of the tradition of the Torta Negra to Venezuela’s land but, many sources say that came from the English pudding, which came from British settlers when they arrived to Trinidad around 1797.
This English pudding may have entered through the Northeast coast from places like Paria at the Sucre state, which people have several commercial contacts with the Trinidad Island. Then, may have been adapted it adding brown sugar, Ron (which is a Caribbean liquor), cocoa or chocolate, coffee and serve it with vanilla ice cream. Not just Venezuela (whom culture is characteristic to adopted many different traditions through it history) had heritage it, other Latin countries such as Brazil with it bolo preto, Argentina with it torta galesa, or Curacao with it rum cake, show how the British influence on the Christmas holidays affected the region.
For this Christmas, my mom ask me to bake a Torta Negra; I have to confess that I never liked it when I was a kid, at my grandma’s house we had torta negra almost always but I dislike the Ron and the moistened fruit flavors. However, since now as an adult my tolerances of flavors have change I was determinate to bake it and like it as well. So, here is it.
- 150grs butter
- 200grs Brown sugar
- 140grs flour
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 3 eggs
- 1 pitch of salt
- 50ml milk
- 1 pitch of cinnamon
- 150grs moistened fruit
- ¼ cup of moistened liquid
- 4 spoon of cacao
Note: I give the sugar number just as is said around the internet but I consider it as a taste thing, because I’ve discovered that people don’t think the same about what I think should be sugared and what not. But, you can use regular sugar, however, you NEED to use LESS that what it say, because if you don't it will be really sugared.
For this recipe I would give the classic instructions but below I would share my tips and those things I change to adapt it even more to the current Venezuela situation.
Whisk the butter with electric mixer until it get creamy, then add part of the sugar and beat until it united with the butter. Separated the yolks from the egg whites and add one by one to the mix, then add the rest of the sugar. When they’re all together add the salt, cinnamon and vanilla essence.
Mix the cocoa powder with maceration liquid and join them to the mix, then add the fruits that have been previously soaked with flour. Add the flour with a paddle and goes alternately with milk (you start with flour and must end with flour). Finally, the egg whites, previously stiff, are added to the mass with palette in surrounding form.
On a pan previously buttered and floured get it to bake at 160°C for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Decorate it is very easy; you can sprinkle with powdered sugar and scatter some fruit on top. I sprinkled chocolate on the top of the cake instead.
1.- We need to considered that the fruits need to be moistened for at least for 2 weeks, however, I didn’t know this when I was searching for the recipe so I used once that weren’t moistened for that long, and we can buy them with the moistened liquid. Many people moistened the fruits through the whole year for them to be ready for December. The thing is because the fruit need to absorb all the liquor to be delicious and give the cake an excellent flavor.
2.- So, because I didn’t have the moistened liquid (because my dad, who was the one who bought the fruit didn’t do it as it supposed), we can add Whiskey, Brandy, or orange, strawberry liquor, or many other to the cake but white distillated liquor because it add a weird and not good flavor. I used strawberry liquor (from the Colonia Tovar, that we bought there on a trip loooong time ago), and Whiskey (that my mom stole from my dad secret bottle).
3.- I didn’t use cacao because here where, at my parents house, is too expensive to buy and we can’t find it (ja! And we’re a country producer of cacao). I used a Savoy chocolate baking bar melted with butter which was too liquid so I had to reduce the milk to not ruin the cake. And I add the liquor to the chocolate.
4.- Given that this dessert is a heritage from the English pudding we must let it standing as well. For black cake, we leave it for at least two days, but the pudding takes even a year. This is for all the flavors to blend well and taste the cake even better.
So, now you can enjoy this delicious traditional Venezuelan cake, the Torta Negra (Black Cake).