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Torta Chilena Costa Rica

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The Costa Rican torta chilena combines 6-8 layers of pie pastry baked until golden brown and then layered with dulce de leche. The perfect indulgent treat for a special occasion or just because!

slice of Torta Chilena Costa Rica

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About The Torta Chilena – Costa Rica

The Torta Chilena (or Chilean Cake) is arguably one of the most beloved Costa Rican desserts (LINK) of all time. Even though sweet empanadas (LINK), tres leches (LINK) and rice pudding (LINK) are top contenders, if you say torta chilena to a tico, there is a certain look they get on their faces- it’s a cross between nostalgia and ecstasy. 

And rightfully so. The dessert is perfectly sweet, caramelly and rich. It pairs perfectly with a freshly made hot cup of coffee, and is best shared among friends. 

Torta Chilena Costa Rica

You might also like: Costa Rican Dessert Recipes

Origin of the Torta Chilena

This dessert is called Torta Chilena because it is basically Costa Rica’s response to the famous thousand layer cake (mil hojas) from Chile. The “thousand layers” are really 15-20 thin layers of pie dough with dulce de leche and walnuts in between. It’s an amazing dessert- and about twice the work as the torta chilena. I love that the Costa Rican simplified the dessert by reducing the number of layers from 15 to 6 or 8, and then made each layer just a bit thicker.

It is worth mentioning that the Torta de Mil Hojas is pretty much the Latin American response to the mille-feuille, a French dessert made of delectable pastry cream sandwiched between three layers of puff pastry.

Where To Find The Torta Chilena In Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, there are several places you can find a torta chilena. The first is in a local bakery. They will sell individual pieces of the cake, usually with a red swirl decoration on top. Expect to pay between $2-3 each.

You can also find bakeries that will make the entire torta chilena cake. You will generally need to call ahead to find out how many days notice the bakery needs to have your order ready. Expect to pay between $30-$30 for a whole cake. My all time favorite torta chilena in Costa Rica is found at Aromas Cafe in San Ramon.

By far the most iconic and beloved Torta Chilena in Costa Rica is made by the local cafe called “Spoon.” It’s a national chain found throughout the country. They serve individual portions and sell the entire cake, and it seems to be every ticos absolute favorite. (I have a friend whose parents flew her a Torta Chilena Spoon from San Jose to the United States for her 40th birthday- that’s how big a deal it can be.)

You can also often find the Spoon torta chilena in Walmart either in individual portions or the whole cake. I even recently saw an “assemble your own” kit in the Costa Rican grocery store, so if that is interesting to you make sure to keep your eye peeled on your next visit. 

Without further ado- the Costa Rican Torta Chilena Recipe!

a slice of Torta Chilena Costa Rica on a white plate
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Torta Chilena Recipe

Printable recipe below

Ingredients

Instructions

In a large bowl, mix together flour and cornstarch. Cube the butter and add to the flour mixture. Mix at medium speed until combined. If there are large chunks of butter still in the mixture you can pinch them out with your hands.

While the flour is mixing, whisk together cold water and salt. Add egg yolks and whisk again until combined. 

Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Do not overmix. 

Remove the dough from the mixer and turn dough into a large ball.  The, form into a long roll (like a log). Cover width plastic and freeze for 45 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the dough from the freezer and divide the dough into 8-10 equal slices. Roll each slice into a 9” circle either on your pastry mat or on the back side of your cake pan. Cut off excess dough so you have a perfect circle.  Pierce the dough all over with a fork.

pastry rolled out

You can now bake each of your layers for 10-15 minutes. You want them to be light golden brown and hard, not soft.

Remove the layers from the pan and lay them out on a cooling rack. You will not assemble the cake until the layers have cooled. 

cake layers

Soften the dulce de leche to room temperature or slightly above. On a cake plate, place your first layer of pastry dough. Spoon 3-4 large spoonfuls of dulce de leche onto the top of the pastry and spread until smooth. 

Torta Chilena Costa Rica cake on a white plate

Add another layer of pastry and repeat until you are finished. You can now cover the whole outside of the cake with remaining dulce de leche or cover the whole cake with merengue frosting. 

iced cake
Torta Chilena Costa Rica

Cut into equal pieces and serve at room temperature. 

Substitutions

Real talk- when you make the “crust” of this cake, you are basically making a homemade pie crust. So if you want to skip all of the work of making the pie crust, you can just buy a store bought one, cut it into the rounds and bake it. 

You can substitute the margarine for butter. Butter is not as common of an ingredient as margarine in Costa Rica, and therefore I used the traditional margarine in the recipe above. It’s an even substitution if you choose to use it.

You can also use store bought dulce de leche instead of making it yourself. La Lechera makes a nice canned dulce de leche that I really like, and you can often find some nice homemade brands at your local Latin market. Do not try to substitute caramel, however, as it is too thin of a consistency and will get runny and gross.

Related post: Empanadas de Dulce de Leche

Variations

There aren’t a ton of variations on this actual recipe, but the way the cake is presented can vary by region and chef. 

Some places only use a dulce de leche topping, while others use merengue so the cake is white. Some add non-pariel sprinkles, shredded coconut or powdered sugar on top. 

What you will almost never find in a Costa Rican torta chilena are nuts- that is really authentic to Costa Rica.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with good company, hot coffee and great conversation. Also- make sure that this cake is either eaten close to when you make it, or stored in the refrigerator until the day you serve. The cake is normally served at room temperature. 

You can make this cake ahead and freeze it and it tastes exactly the same if you defrost in the fridge for several days before bringing to room temperature and serving.

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Yield: 1 cake

Torta Chilena Costa Rica

slice of Torta Chilena Costa Rica

The Costa Rican torta chilena combines 6-8 layers of pie pastry baked until golden brown and then layered with dulce de leche. The perfect indulgent treat for a special occasion or just because!

Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour and cornstarch. Cube the butter and add to the flour mixture. Mix at medium speed until combined. If there are large chunks of butter still in the mixture you can pinch them out with your hands.
  2. While the flour is mixing, whisk together cold water and salt. Add egg yolks and whisk again until combined.
  3. Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixer and turn dough into a large ball. The, form into a long roll (like a log). Cover width plastic and freeze for 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the dough from the freezer and divide the dough into 8-10 equal slices. Roll each slice into a 9” circle either on your pastry mat or on the back side of your cake pan. Cut off excess dough so you have a perfect circle. Pierce the dough all over with a fork.
  6. You can now bake each of your layers for 10-15 minutes. You want them to be light golden brown and hard, not soft.
  7. Remove the layers from the pan and lay them out on a cooling rack. You will not assemble the cake until the layers have cooled.
  8. Soften the dulce de leche to room temperature or slightly above. On a cake plate, place your first layer of pastry dough. Spoon 3-4 large spoonfuls of dulce de leche onto the top of the pastry and spread until smooth.
  9. Add another layer of pastry and repeat until you are finished. You can now cover the whole outside of the cake with remaining dulce de leche or cover the whole cake with merengue frosting.
  10. Cut into equal pieces and serve at room temperature.

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About the Author

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Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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