Official name: Argentine Republic
Form of Government: Federal Republic
Capital City: Buenos Aires
Official Language: Spanish
Money: Argentine Peso
Area: 1,073,518square km
Argentina is a vast country located in the southern part of South America. It is the second largest country in South America after Brazil, and the eight largest country in the world.
To the west, the towering Andes mountains create a natural 5,142 km high border with Chile, and the eastern border of the country is the Atlantic Ocean.
To the east of the Andes, the interior of the country is flat, fertile grassland. This area, called the Pampas, is the agricultural heartland of Argentina.
Northeast Argentina features rainforest and Iguazu Falls. Located on Argentina’s border with Brazil, this spectacular waterfall descends along a 2.7 km front in a horseshoe shape.
Altogether, the country is divided into four regions-the Andes, the Pampas, the north and Patagonia, which covers the southern part of the country.
Unlike many other South American countries Argentina has fewer native people and a large population of people who came from Europe.
In fact, around 95% of Argentina’s population are of European descent, mostly from Italy, Spain and Germany. Much of the native population died from diseases brought in by Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Nearly half of the population lives in the area around Buenos Aires. This beautiful city is sometimes referred as the “Paris of South America” because of this European influence.
Soccer is the favourite sport in Argentina, and the country has produced some of the world’s most famous players, such as Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.
Gauchos, like American cowboys, have become a symbol of the open plains of the Pampas region. Historically they were brave country people devoted to lassoing and raising cattle and horses.
Typical food: Asado, is meat prepared on a grill or over open fire as part of a BBQ.
Alfajores: sweet biscuits filled with dulce de leche and covered with chocolate.
Empanadas: deep fried or baked stuffed pastry pockets with meat, veggies, cheese or chicken.
Mate: Tea made from Yerba mate, which is a local herb, and is then sipped through a straw which is called bombilla.
(Argentinian Chocolate Cake)
Translated as chocolate cake, this no-bake Argentinian dessert was influenced by Italian cuisine and modeled on the famous Italian tiramisu. It is made with three Argentinian staple ingredients: chocolate biscuits, dulce de leche, and cream cheese.
The cookies are softened in milk and layered with a combination of cream cheese and dulce de leche. The shapes of chocotorta can vary, while the biscuits can be soaked with chocolate milk, coffee, or even coffee liqueur. The most common theory about its origin says that it was invented as a part of a marketing campaign designed to promote Chocolinas chocolate cookies, and the recipe was included in the packaging.
A regular at most Argentinian celebrations and birthday parties, chocotorta is a simple no-bake dessert that can be prepared by even the most unskilled cook, yet so delicious as if made by a professional. According to the original recipe, chocotorta consists of layers of Chocolinas chocolate cookies dipped in port wine, with a mixture of dulce de leche and cream cheese (queso crema) in between. However, today, chocolate cookies are more commonly dipped in coffee. The cake is traditionally rectangular, but other shapes can be made as well.
Chocotorta is rarely found in restaurants and remains a novel dessert outside of Argentina.
Authentic Chocotorta recipe
INGREDIENTS for 12 servings
600g dulce de leche
600g cream cheese
750g chocolate cookies (3 layers)
250ml coffee, sweetened to taste
80g dark chocolate
40 ml heavy cream
20g unsalted butter
300g of dulce de leche and cream cheese (150g each)
1 Mix the dulce de leche and cream cheese with a mixer set on low speed for two minutes — preferably, leave the cream cheese at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before mixing, so it's easier to mix.
2 Line a deep 20X20cm baking pan (the bottom and the sides) with parchment paper, leaving enough to overhang, for easier unmolding.
3 Start assembling the cake. Dip each cookie shortly in coffee, then place each on the pan's bottom, creating a cookie layer, and then spread it with a thin layer of dulce de leche and cream cheese mixture.
4 Repeat this step five more times — you should end up with 6 cookie layers and five layers of dulce de leche and cream cheese mixture.
5 Refrigerate for a minimum of six hours.
6 Once ready to serve, take out of the refrigerator, place a large tray on the top of the pan, and flip to invert the cake onto the said tray. Remove the parchment paper.
7 For decorating the cake, make a 300g mixture of dulce de leche and cream cheese, then spread the top of the cake thinly with the said mixture. Save some of the mixture of decorating later.
8 Prepare the ganache by melting chocolate, heavy cream, and butter in a bain-marie.
9 Wait until the ganache comes to room temperature, then place it in a piping bag, and pipe the ganache along the edges of the cake to create a dripping effect.
10 Place the remaining dulce de leche and cream cheese mixture into a piping bag, and pipe swirls along the cake's edges.
11 Finally, fill the center of the cake with chocolate shavings.
12 Refrigerate for minimum of six hours before serving.
Traditionally, the Chocolinas brand of chocolate cookies is used, but if those are not available in your area, you can use other kinds of chocolate cookies. No matter what cookies you go for, they should be softened in some liquid — coffee, milk, cocoa, or something stronger, like the port wine, which was used in the original recipe.
dulce de leche and cream cheese mixture
To make the dulce de leche and cream cheese mixture, keep in mind a few things. First, the amount of each ingredient depends on the thickness of the said ingredients — so, if the dulce de leche you go for is on the thicker side, you may need to add more cream cheese, or even milk, or sour cream. Second, the end result should be lump-free, and with such a consistency that when you flip the mixture, it won't drip out of the bowl. Third, it is advised to use cream cheese at room temperature so that it's easier to mix the two ingredients together.
The cookies should be dipped in a liquid of some sort, so they turn soft, that the cake can be pierced through with a fork. Also, it is essential that the cake is refrigerated for a few hours after assembly, so the flavors and textures have time to settle.
Some possible variations on the basic recipe include adding nuts to the cream, spiking the coffee with alcohol such as coffee liqueur or brandy to make an adult-only version, making a round chocotorta or single-serving chocotorta cakes. Decoration-wise, let your imagination run wild — use cocoa, grated chocolate, top it with a layer of melted chocolate, or pretty it up with swirls of cream.
If not consumed all in the same day, chocotorta leftovers can keep in the refrigerator for a few days.