I first tasted this delicious dessert in Vimar restaurant in Carvoeiro. There are several versions of this recipe: some using butter and sugar and others using condensed milk and cream. All of them use the Maria biscuit (bolacha Maria) – the UK rich tea biscuits make a good substitute – and at its best it is a Portuguese version of the Italian dessert, tiramisu, layering coffee-soaked biscuits with a custard-type mixture and topped with whipped cream. This recipe is an adaptation of several recipes I have experimented with, with the aim of recreating the first Bola de Bolacha I had in Vimar restaurant and it has become a favourite with family and friends.
397g can of condensed milk
350ml espresso coffee (made with 350ml water and 9 teaspoons instant espresso powder, cooled)
2 x 200g packets of Maria or rich tea biscuits
600ml double cream
1 teaspoon sugar
- Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put the whites in a bowl to use later.
- Put the egg yolks, condensed milk and milk into a bowl and whisk together.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan and gently heat, stirring all the time, until it starts to bubble. Continue to keep it on a low heat and stirring until it starts to thicken into a custard consistency – don’t overcook it or the eggs will start to resemble scrambled eggs. Turn off the heat.
- Take 3-4 biscuits out of one of the packets and use a rolling pin to make crumbs and put to one side.
- Pour the cooled coffee into a bowl and dip the remaining biscuits one at a time into the coffee for approximately 10 seconds, so that the biscuits are coated with coffee, but don’t allow them to go soft.
- Put a layer of the biscuits along the bottom of a 23cm spring-form cake tin. Put a layer of the custard on top of the biscuits. Continue layering the biscuits and custard until all the biscuits and custard have been used (approximately 5 layers of biscuits and 4 layers of custard).
- Pour the double cream into a bowl and add the sugar. Whisk the cream until thick.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
- Fold the egg whites into the cream.
- Spread the cream onto the top of the cake. You may not need to use all the cream.
- Sprinkle the top of the cake with the biscuit crumbs.
- Cover the cake tin with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.