A no-bake gluten-free version of a Lithuanian nut cake.
From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh
The original wheat version of this recipe came from Darbštuolė - a Lithuanian recipe magazine similar to Pillsbury Monthly. The recipe states it is from Laima Andrijauskaitė.
The original has one making an unsweetened dough, that is chilled, grated (presumably by hand like potato pancakes) and then baked to make a crunchy mix. I tried this and it was pretty awful, but it did stay very crunchy for several days in the creamy mix. So in my wheat flour days, I used a very neutral shortbread cookie 'Sandies, simply shortbread by Keebler.' They also boiled the can of condensed milk as we used to, to make a caramelized condensed milk. That is now available as Nestle - La Lechera - Dulce de Leche about $3 in the Goya/Mexican food aisle. Make sure you buy the right can, they also do ordinary condensed milk that looks the same but isn’t caramelized. My friend and I agreed that we had to add some rum. And then I used my chocolate ganache of cream and real chocolate melted as a topping, rather than cocoa, milk and sugar. It is very rich, so it could be cut as a small candy rather than sliced as a dessert.
Gluten-Free No-Bake Nut Cake
- 1 x 7.25 oz (206g) packet of Pamela’s gluten-free butter shortbread, broken into large pieces. This is quite a soft shortbread but it doesn’t turn to mush.
- 1 x 380g (13.4 oz or thereabouts) of Nestle Dulce de Leche caramelized condensed milk
- 2 cups, (8 oz, 250g), nuts, coarsely chopped and toasted in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. I used almonds and pecans. Walnuts would have been more available.
- ½ stick (2oz, 56g) butter melted
- 2-4 tbsps (30-60 ml) rum, brandy or chocolate liqueur. Or go for orange or almond liqueur to your own preference. I used 4 tbsp Myers dark rum. 2 tbsps give a nice flavor, 4 tbsps you can notice the alcohol. Plain rum should be naturally gluten-free, it’s the flavors added that are the dangers.
1. Open can of dulce de leche and empty into 4-6 c (1-1+1/2 ltr) microwave safe bowl. Add solid butter and microwave for a short time, stirring, until milk softens and butter is melted.
2. Stir in some of alcohol to give a smooth even mix.
3. Stir in nuts and shortbread. Now taste and decide if you want some more alcohol. Remember strength of flavor develops and you’ll be adding rum to topping/glaze.
4. Spoon mix into 9-10” spring form pan (for a fancy dessert) or 8x8” brownie pan to cut into candy pieces. OR line star, christmas tree or heart shape pan or other designs with plastic wrap and press mix into all the corners so design turns out crisp. The mix is ‘lumpy’ so won’t press into detailed design mold.
Smooth out as much as possible and then take a piece of plastic wrap, press onto surface of cake and press out even more to smooth top and compress mix and prevent too many air bubbles.
5. Refrigerate for several hours until firm enough to cut. I had originally tried this with cream instead of butter, but butter firms mix up more.
6. While mix is chilling, heat cream and sugar together, add chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted and is smooth and creamy, it should look like a cross between condensed milk and Hershey’s syrup - no lumps. Stir in alcohol and chill. I usually use an immersion blender to make it smooth.
7. Remove ‘torte’ from fridge, remove from spring form, remove plastic wrap and place on decorative plate. Pour about half of chocolate mix over top of cake and allow to start dribbling down sides. If the mix is too runny when you stir once you remove from fridge, then beat it slightly with electric mixer so it doesn’t ‘run’ so easily.
8. Beat remainder of chocolate mix with electric mixer until consistency of whipped cream and then pipe around top/bottom of cake. Finish with nuts, or any decoration you want.
This lasts for several days in fridge, easily made in advance of summertime parties, but will soften too much if left out in sun during party. Still delicious, but spoonable not cutable after sun.