The torta helada is one of the gastronomic delights of Peru, and there is no other similar dessert in the world. This wildly colorful dessert is a combination of sponge cake, whipped cream, and strawberry jelly. Although strawberry is the most traditional version, some people use peach or orange instead. Even a mixture of the three above is possible.
The exact origin of this popular recipe is unclear, but some sources date it to around 1960. KIds love the colors and sweet flavors and it’s a popular children’s party food. However, it’s an equally popular dessert with adults, so don’t be afraid to serve it up.
Preparing this cake requires plenty of attention to detail. Precision is essential so that the cake sets properly and does not crumble when sliced. But do not worry because we will provide you with the exact ingredients and methods to make torta helada like a pro chef.
You will need two round cake molds, one larger than the other, specifically about three centimeters larger. The cake can then be placed inside the smaller mold and the whipped cream is piped into the empty space. This gives the cake its characteristic appearance.
You will also need an electric mixer and of course, the ingredients: strawberry jelly, unflavored jelly, strawberries, sugar, and frozen evaporated milk. For the cake: wheat flour, eggs, sugar, and syrup.
You’ll also need wax paper to remove the cake properly. However, if your molds are silicone, you won’t need wax paper.
Tips for making a Michelin Star torta helada
- You will make the cake in the smallest mold. Ensure that it is lined with wax paper before baking. In this way, you can remove it easily and without breaking it.
- Prepare your largest mold by spreading oil on it. This is where the final frozen cake will be placed. Choose an oil with a neutral flavor such as corn, sunflower, or soy.
- Ignore the manufacturer’s advice on the gelatin packets. It’s crucial our jelly be firm so we recommend following our recipe exactly.
- Divide the strawberry jelly in half. You will make the top layer or layer of strawberries with the first half. With the rest, you will flavor and firm up the evaporated milk.
- You should continue beating the Chantilly even as you assemble the frozen cake, since it begins to set very quickly, making it hard to mold.
- This dessert’s fluffy cake is dry, so it must be moistened with a little syrup. But if you add too much syrup, the frozen cake will become very heavy. And heavy heavy cakes collapse.
- When the evaporated milk reaches three or four times its original volume, add the gelatin little by little. Be careful here, if you add it all at the same time, the evaporated milk will lose volume and will not be usable.
- Last but not least, be patient. The cake needs to be refrigerated for at least 12 hours. Do not unmold it before then since it could break.
How to Make Torta Helada
Start by making the fluffy cake. Once the cake has reached room temperature, it must be removed from the mold, and then cut into two layers. Glaze the cakes with syrup and leave to rest.
There’s then the task of making strawberry jelly, which requires patience. Put a thin layer of strawberry jelly in the large mold and let it set. Meanwhile cut the strawberries into slices. Take the mold out of the fridge and arrange the strawberry slices on it. Decorate it as you wish. Cover it with more strawberry jelly, and place it back in the fridge. Now you have the top or first layer.
While this first layer sets, prepare the Chantilly and cut the cake. In essence, it’s just a matter of whisking the evaporated milk until it triples in volume and then slowly adding the remaining gelatin.
Take the mold out of the fridge. Place the first layer of whipped cream on the cake, flatten it with the spatula, then a layer of cake, another layer of cream, and the last layer of cake. Finish with a final layer. Put it in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Carefully remove the mold, and you’re done.
The magic of evaporated milk
The Chantilly (sweet whipped cream) for the torta helada is a mixture of whipped evaporated milk and strawberry jelly. Most people are unaware that stirring frozen evaporated milk gives it a consistency similar to Chantilly cream. However, this only occurs when evaporated milk is ice cold. And this, friends, is the secret to this cake.
Put the evaporated milk can in the freezer six hours before you begin the recipe.
Torta Helada Cake
- 4 eggs separated into yolks and whites
- 1 cup wheat flour 110 g.
- 1 cup sugar 170 g.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or a teaspoon of mantecado essence or lemon zest)
- ½ cup vanilla syrup
- ¾ cup powdered strawberry flavor gelatin 170 g. (Jell-O recommended)
- 3 ½ cups water very hot
- ¾ cup sugar 130 g.
- 6 to 8 strawberries 150 g.
- ¼ cup unflavored gelatin 35 g.
- 1 teaspoon oil for the mold
- At least six hours before starting the recipe, put the can of evaporated milk in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 170 ° C / 340 ° F. Line the base of the small pan with wax paper.
- Beat the four egg whites until stiff. Then add the sugar little by little and continue beating until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the egg yolks, beat for a couple of minutes, and turn off the mixer. Remove the bowl from the electric mixer.
- Incorporate the wheat flour little by little and the essence of your choice (vanilla, mantecado, or lemon zest) , mixing it with enveloping movements. If you wish you can add the flour with a sieve. Stir well and make sure there are no lumps.
- Pour the mixture into the previously prepared mold, and bake it for about twenty minutes until the surface is a golden color. Make sure it is fully cooked by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out wet, leave it in the oven for an additional five minutes and repeat the test. Remove from the oven and let it cool for at least half an hour.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the gelatin. In a large bowl mix all the water with the strawberry and unflavored gelatins. Stir until it dissolves completely. Reserve two cups of for the whipped cream.
- Rub the large pan with an oily napkin. Then pour a little gelatin into the mold, up to a height of approximately five millimeters. Put the mold in the freezer for about five minutes.
- Wash the strawberries well, and cut them into thin slices about three millimeters thick.
- Remove the mold from the fridge, and put the strawberries on top of the jelly. Try to make a nice design. Then add the remaining jelly to cover the strawberries. Remember to keep two cups of strawberry jelly for the chantilly. Take the mold to the fridge one more time.
- Unmold the cake, and cut it in two crosswise. Make sure that the two layers are the same thickness. If your cake has bulged, remove the bulge. You need two flat coats.
- Using a kitchen brush, spread syrup on both layers of the cake. Allow the sponge to absorb the syrup little by little. No need to apply too much, just moisten.
- Remove the can of evaporated milk from refrigerator, uncover and place in the bowl of the electric mixer. Beat it for about five minutes until it has quadrupled in size. Add the sugar and continue beating.
- Then add the remaining jelly in a fine thread, continuing to beat. Continue beating until well blended.
- Remove from mixer when fluffy and smooth. If you notice that it sets very quickly, leave it in the blender for a few more minutes at minimum speed.
- Remove the jelly mold from the refrigerator and place a layer of whipped cream on top.
- Then place a layer of cake. Followed by another layer of chantilly whipped cream, and another layer of cake. Finish with the remaining chantilly whipped cream.
- Take the frozen cake to the refrigerator, and let it set for at least twelve hours before removing. Then, remove from the refrigerator and leave to warm to room temperature for about ten minutes. Put a plate on top of the pan, and flip it so that the cake falls onto the plate.
Peruvian foodie. I’ve been writing about the food of Peru for over 10 years. Read more about the Eat Peru team here
A question – I’d love to make this, but don’t know what “essence of vanilla ice cream and lemon zest” is, or what to use for vanilla syrup. Can you describe what those are? Thank you!!
You can buy vanilla essence in any part of the baking section of any supermarket they come in little bottles.
Hi Julie, I think they meant to say vanilla extract. Lemon zest is grated lemon peel (only the yellow exterior part of the lemon) you can use a grater to lightly go over the lemon to get the zest. With that said, I’ve never seen lemon zest added to this desert though I’m sure it wouldn’t taste bad. Also, they meant Jell-O or gelatin, not actual jelly. Love that this is a traditional Peruvian fave of mine that I have had in ages literally in decades, but would have translated better in a video. P.S. there is no way anyone should be using wax paper in the oven. Maybe they meant parchment paper? Also, the way I know this recipe is that the vanilla extract is added to the creme batter, not the caramel. Hope this helps! 🙂