A great dessert

When I am invited to a dinner party and asked to bring the dessert, “Torta del Cielo” is everyone’s favorite. If I’m in a hurry, a great place to buy the cake is the traditional Merida bakery “La Valle.” But if I have time, I make the cake from the recipe found in “A Yucatan Kitchen” by my great friend Loretta Scott-Miller.

Loretta and her husband Ken lived in Yucatan for nine years. When she returned to the USA a few years ago, her legacy was the cookbook that many of us use nearly every day. You can purchase Loretta’s testimonial to living in Yucatan at Amate Books here in Merida on Calle 60 and 51st or you can go on line at Amazon

Torta de Cielo

2 cups whole peeled almonds

1 tablespoon of white flour

1 ½ cups white sugar

6 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon of cream of tartar

1 teaspoon of vanilla or almond flavoring

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 or 10 inch spring-form cake pan and line it with waxed paper or parchment, also greased

In a food processor, grind the almonds with a little of the sugar until they are very fine and almost form a paste. Add the flour and process until well mixed.

In a large clean metal or glass bowl, mix the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Continue beating, while adding the remaining sugar, until the peaks are stiff and shiny.

Beat the yolks separately and fold them into the whites little by little, careful not to break down the lightness of the meringue. Fold in the almond-sugar mixture and dribble in the flavoring. Using a spatula, make sure all the ingredients are well folded together.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, until the cake is golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack for5 minutes. Unmold and allow the cake to cool completely.

Place the cake on a platter (I use a glass pedestal one) and sprinkle it with powdered sugar. The cake is lovely on its own and still lovelier, topped with fresh fruit!

Serves: 8 – 10



Filed under Family and Friends

16 responses to “A great dessert

  1. Hating to sound like a stuck record, but needing an answer before I break my pot.

    Can I heat it on an electric burner or will that crack it?

    Also, the dish I bought seems to be glazed. It’s shiny inside and out. I bought it from the guy with the roadside stand on the right, as you come into Mérida from Progreso. Do I still use your seasoning method?


    • No stuck record… But I don’t know what to say about the oven… I do think the electric element would crack the pot. Maybe you could accomplish the process on a bar-b-que grill? Glazing outside too? That will probably pit but it shouldn’t crack… you are sure it is barro?

      • I have no idea if it’s barro. It’s brown, if that makes a difference.

      • Barro is brown… looks like rough clay. Does yours have little flowers around the edge. If so it is barro but not the kind you can cook in. When you’re back here, I’ll show you cooking barro. Let me know when you’ll be here.

  2. Joanna, my last comment from Mar 4 is still awaiting moderation. Maybe it got lost in cyberspace?

    I’m back in Canada and have an electric stove, not gas. Can I heat the dish on an electric burner? Maybe it would be safer in the oven but then I wouldn’t be able to see the oil smoking.

  3. Joanne

    I made the cake this afternoon and it is as heavenly as I remembered.

    Your talk/reception/author’s tour today was great, it was a treat to hear your readings and your enthusiasm for Merida, for Mexico and for Jorge are obvious!

    • Thank you Joanne… I had such a good time at the book event and I enjoyed your help with the “kissing” role play! Good for you that the cake came out well… Yum-m-m-m-m

  4. This sounds delicious. I’m going to have to try this sometime.

    Joanna, this is a bit off topic but…was it you who had posted, some time ago, about how your mother-in-law seasons pottery cookware? I remember reading about it on someone’s blog but I can’t remember whose.

  5. Joanne

    Thank you for sharing the recipe Joanna. This is such a great cake, I’m going to make it soon.

  6. Mary E. Moore

    This cake sounds fabulous, Joanna. I don’t have an oven in the house where we’re living this winter but will try the recipe when I’m back in El Norte. Meanwhile, where is the bakery you mentioned? Mary

  7. Hands down one of the best desserts I’ve ever had! I’m not familar with this bakery, address please.

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