We’re celebrating Christmas with our Wilton friends all over the globe! In our Christmas Around the World Series, a guest contributor will share their favorite Christmas recipe and story with you. Today’s story comes from Cristina Dacosta in Mexico.
Hi, my name is Cristina Dacosta. I am half Venezuelan and half Spanish; I live in Mexico and am Mexican by choice! I am passionate about food, especially baking. In 2016, I started a YouTube channel to loosen up my imagination and share fun, easy-to-do recipes with my viewers. Today I want to share my recipe for Black Cake or Torta Negra.
The Black Cake or Torta Negra is a sponge cake with chocolate, crystalized fruit and tenderized nuts in rum, typical among the Venezuelan Christmas desserts.
Even though it’s a fundamental piece in the Venezuelan Christmas table, its origin is not from Venezuela. It is believed to originated from the typical Christmas English cakes, but adapted in Venezuela by using typical ingredients from the country. White sugar was substituted by brown sugar, brandy for rum, and cacao was added to it.
This torta (as it is called a cake in Venezuela), is a recipe that brings me joy and nostalgia because it was one of my mom’s favorite recipes, and a fundamental part of our Christmas festivities. Its special flavor and smell that surrounds the house while being baked makes me travel immediately to my childhood. I can remember my abuelita (grandma) claiming she cannot eat the nuts and my brother saying he would not like the torta. I can remember asking my mom to only add cinnamon among all the spices, because I didn’t like the rest. I also remember mom frowning while she watched me add the ingredients and follow her recipe… and finally everyone sitting at the table eating the torta without any complaint and almost without any breath!
The recipe of these mini black cakes or mini tortas negras, is my mom’s original recipe. When my mom made this cake, she would make a single big cake for everyone. Here I have used half of the ingredients to make 6 mini cakes.
Mini Black Cakes or Mini Tortas Negras
Recipe for 6 mini bundt cakes
For the tenderized fruit
1 cup of dried plums without seeds
1 cup of crystallized fruit
½ cup of peeled nuts
1 bowl of raisins
¾ cup of rum
For the dough
- 1 ½ cups of flour
- 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of powdered cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of powdered nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon of powdered ginger
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¾ cup of brown sugar
- ¾ cup (170g) of butter without salt at room temperature
- Tenderized fruit (prepared previously)
- 3 teaspoons of boiling milk
- ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 midsized eggs
- ¼ cup of milk
For the glaze
- 1 ½ cup of powdered sugar
- 8 teaspoons of milk
Maraschino cherries for garnish
Preheat the oven at 160°C (320°F).
Cut the plums, crystallized fruit and the nuts into small pieces, put them in a glass jar with the raisins and add the rum. Close the lid and allow it to marinate one full day. Ideally, it is best to marinate several days in advance, but in case that is not possible one day is enough.
Sift flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. In a bowl, beat the softened butter and brown sugar.
Add dry ingredients and mix everything until it’s well-integrated. Stir in the tenderized fruit (including the remaining rum). Blend in 3 teaspoons of boiling milk with the baking soda mix, eggs, and milk and mix.
Pour into greased mini bundt cake pans. Bake at 160°C , between 40 and 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before unmolding and then let cool completely and preferably on top of a cooling rack.
For the glaze, we only need to mix powdered sugar with 8 tablespoons of milk until getting a homogeneous blend. Once the cake cools, decorate with the glaze and the maraschino cherries.