Birthdays deserve to be celebrated with something sweet. It’s generally cake but I didn’t want the typical frosted cake for mine. Our daughter had planned to bake one for me but she was a bit unwell. So I decided make myself a Bolo De Bolacha Maria.
Bolo De Bolacha Maria loosely translates as Cake of Maria biscuits, and is a biscuit cake. It is not your typical oven baked cake but a no-bake refrigerator cake. The Portuguese brought their cuisine with them to Goa. These took on Goan identities when the local Catholics adopted and adapted them. The Bolo De Bolacha Maria is one of them. This Marie Biscuit Cake is similar to the Italian Tiramisu. It is made of alternate layers of Marie biscuits dunked in coffee and a creamy buttercream.
The Marie biscuit was created by a London bakery in the 1870s to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia to the Duke of Edinburgh. It became popular throughout Europe and later in its colonies too. They’re called Maria biscuits in some parts of the world including Portugal. Marie biscuits are tea biscuits which means they don’t become soggy when dunked in tea. They’re also not very sweet and very mild flavoured. It is a very popular tea time biscuit in India, and we also make quite a few desserts with them.
We in India, tend to tease the Parsis about their love for eggs. It seems the same with the Portuguese and their Sobremesa or desserts. Most Portuguese desserts tend to depend very heavily on eggs and the traditional version is no different. The Goan version of this cake is usually egg free. I make that version but with a whipped buttercream. The buttercream can be flavoured with just vanilla extract, or you can add a little unsweetened cocoa powder. These are the usual flavours used, but you can use anything that works well with coffee.
You can make this cake free form, which is without a cake tin. You stack the biscuits one on top of another in a circle with one stack of biscuits in the centre also. It will look like a free standing flower shaped cake. I prefer to make it in a cake tin as the cake will never accidentally tilt over! I would suggest using thin layers of buttercream so you don’t get an uncomfortable large mouth full of buttercream in every bite of cake. However ensure that the biscuit layers are adequately covered.
My version is an 8” cake that is 6 layers of biscuits. This refrigerator cuts into about 12 slices.
Bolo De Bolacha Maria
- 200 gm unsalted butter soft at room temperature
- 75 ml chilled cream whipping or 25% fat
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups to 2 1/2icing sugar
- 50 Marie biscuits
- 1 cup coffee decoction or Espresso at room temperature
- Chocolate curls to decorate
- First make the whipped buttercream. For this, place the soft butter in a bowl and beat with a hand held electric mixer till fluffy and pale. Beat in the chilled cream. Now beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder and about 2 cups of the icing sugar. If the whipped buttercream doesn’t feel thick or sweet enough, add as much of the remaining icing sugar as you feel is necessary.
- Keep this aside for the time being. If your ambient temperature is warm and buttercream feels very soft, refrigerate it for about 20 to 30 minutes till it firms up but can still be spread easily.
- Lightly butter and line an 8” cake tin with parchment paper. This makes unmoulding easier. Use a loose bottomed cake tin if you have one. Dip Marie biscuits in the coffee, one after another, and place them in a single layer across the bottom of the cake tin. About 7 biscuits should cover the bottom of the cake tin in a circle with one in the centre. Break some other biscuits into quarters. Dip these also in coffee and use these to fill the gaps. One and half biscuits should be good enough for each layer.
- Spread a thin, uniform smooth layer of the whipped buttercream over this layer. Repeat alternate layers of coffee dipped Marie biscuits and buttercream till you have 6 layers of biscuits. Finish with a layer of buttercream.
- Grate chocolate curls on the top to decorate. Refrigerate the cake for about 8 to 10 hours or till set. Overnight in the fridge works perfectly. Store in the fridge as the buttercream will soften at room temperature and become impossible to slice.