Food & Drink

Bite of Brazil: Torta Mineira a cool treat for a heat wave

Torta mineira offers some well-deserved sweetness. (Alexandra Olsen photos)
Torta mineira offers some well-deserved sweetness. (Alexandra Olsen photos)
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With temperatures steadily rising and the official start of summer just around the corner, I know healthier recipes promising to help with “summer bods” are on trend right now.

However, the recipe I am sharing this month is not one of them.

Torta mineira is a deliciously chilled sweet treat originated, as its name suggests, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. “Torta” simply means “pie.” Even though the recipe begins with a cake.

Make no mistake, the star of this dessert is not the cake but the toppings that flavor it. Tart pineapple, sweet cream and clouds of whipped cream stacked above a blank canvas.

When these toppings are allowed to seep into the chilled cake, summery-sweet bliss ensues, making it a perfect relief from an Iowa heat wave.

Sugary summer snacks like this were always my favorite growing up in Brazil. My grandmother, Nair, was always whipping up something delicious for us kids to devour poolside.

“Well-deserved,” she would say as she watched her grandchildren eat, still dripping with pool water.

This was long before the word “calories” entered my vocabulary. A time when the body I had was already perfect for summer because it could swim and play and eat delicious things my grandmother made.

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As a community, we already have so many things to worry about and work on this summer. Let’s forget the “perfect” summer bodies we’ve been told to strive for.

Let’s all enjoy some “well- deserved” sweetness.

Follow Alexandra Olsen on Instagram, @FeedMeIowa, for more recipes and restaurant recommendations.

Torta Mineira

FOR THE CAKE:

4 eggs

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of flour

2 tablespoons of baking powder

2 cups of warm milk

FOR THE TOPPING:

1 fresh pineapple

3 cups of milk

3 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of cornstarch (mixed with 4 tablespoons of cold water)

Whipped cream to taste

Start by baking your cake. You’ll want it to be completely cooled before adding your toppings.

Separate the egg whites and yolks into separate bowls.

Mix the eggs whites with a hand mixer for several minutes, until forming stiff peaks.

In a separate bowl, combine yolks, sugar, flour, baking powder and warm milk. Then, fold in your egg whites.

Pour batter into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, preferably glass to see the layers.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for several hours or overnight if possible.

Make your topping next.

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and cornstarch. Mix well before turning on the heat. Continuously stir as you heat this mixture. Heat until your reach just below your desired consistency, which should be close to pudding.

Allow this mixture to completely cool.

Mince your fresh pineapple and heat in a skillet for several minutes, until the juices cook down to become a little more syrup-like. Allow to cool.

Once everything is cool, you are ready to assemble.

Spread your pineapple layer out evenly and liberally. You can poke a fork into your cake a few times if you’d like everything to penetrate the cake.

Spread an even layer of your cream topping on top of your pineapple.

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Finish off your cake with your preferred whipped cream. Then, place the cake in the fridge for a few hours to chill before enjoying.

Source: Alexandra Olsen

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