Rogel, also called torta rogel, is a traditional Argentinian cake made from milk jam and Italian meringue. It comes in the form of several layers of crunchy cookie discs. Rogel is quite long to make but it is worth it.
What is rogel?
Rogel is a traditional Argentinian cake which consists of several thin and irregular layers of crunchy cookies between which dulce de leche (milk jam) is spread. Argentines have a habit of making their milk jam at home and in large quantities. That said, you will need to prepare the dulce de leche the day before in order to use it in the rogel.
Another peculiarity: the rogel cookie dough is prepared from egg yolks, and this is the secret of a very crunchy cookie. For information, the dough is not very sweet but the balance with the milk jam is just perfect.
When is rogel prepared?
It takes a long time to prepare torta rogel. Indeed, each cookie layer needs to be baked separately on a tray for 15 minutes and there are 8, even if you should be able to bake two or three per batch.
It is easy to understand why this pastry is reserved for special occasions, such as birthdays and weddings. Wedding cakes have around twenty layers of cookies and can contain up to 4 lb of dulce de leche.
Because of its cookie layers, rogel is affectionately nicknamed the “Argentine napoleon” (millefeuille). However, it is a gross mistake to compare rogel to a millefeuille for the simple reason that these desserts are only similar in appearance.
Indeed, they are both feature cookie layers between which a filling is spread. However, the cookie dough that makes up the rogel and the millefeuille are different. The milhojas (millefeuille) is prepared from puff pastry while the rogel consists of successive layers of short crunchy shortcrust pastry made from egg yolk.
In addition, it is customary to use pastry cream for the traditional mille-feuille. For the rogel, milk jam is used.
What is the origin of rogel?
According to researcher Daniel Balmaceda, the rogel dates back to the 19th century. It would have been created by a certain Petrona Arias, who made a similar cake based on dulce de leche.
However, rogel as we know it today only dates back to the 1960s. In fact, in 1964, Charo Balbiani prepared a kind of cake based on several layers of dough inspired by a Dutch recipe. This cake consisted of eight layers of cookie dough prepared from egg yolks and topped with dulce de leche.
At the same time, on Santos Dumont Street, in the Chacarita district, a lady by the name of Rogelia prepared a similar cake called rogel. Rogelia made her cake named rogel known through word of mouth. However, it was difficult for her to market it. Indeed, the dulce de leche was leaking, the cutting was not easy and it was all the more difficult to slice it into individual parts to sell it.
But it was not until 1988 that the rogel cake became a registered trademark. When Rogelia died, Balbiani bought the Rogel brand.
Tips for a perfect rogel
It is imperative to prick the discs of dough with a fork to avoid bubbles and irregularities during baking. This step is crucial and will result in discs that will not be irregular. It will be easier to stack the cookie layers.
Cutting the rogel can be quite tedious. Indeed, the crunchy cookie slides under the knife and the dulce de leche leaks.
To obtain more or less neat portions, it must be handled and cut quickly and carefully as soon as it is taken out of the fridge. In addition, the meringue that covers the cake also makes the operation tedious.
With or without Italian meringue?
The traditional recipe, which is the one presented here, is prepared with Italian meringue. Depending on the region in Argentina, there are rogel cakes that are entirely covered with meringue, while others have meringue just on top of the cake.
The original rogel recipe was made with a much less stable fondant layer than meringue. But meringue was widely adopted in the 60s. Also, there are some versions of individual rogel without meringue prepared with leftover dough. In this version, you will find a stack of 3 or 4 discs of cookies. These pastries are known as rogelitos.
Other desserts with dulce le leche
In Chile, a rolled cake topped with dulce de leche called brazo de reina is popular.
- 3 cups sifted flour
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 7 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons almond liquor
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 20 oz. dulce de leche (m)ilk jam
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1½ cup sugar
- 5 egg whites
- In a large bowl, add the flour.
- Dig a well in the center of the flour and add the sugar, egg yolks, whole eggs, water, almond liquor and soft butter.
- Mix until obtaining a smooth dough. Kneading should not last long.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature.
- Preheat a convection oven to 320 F (160°C).
- Roll out the dough very thinly using a pasta machine or a rolling pin, to a thickness of about ⅛ inch (2 mm).
- On a floured work surface, cut the dough into at least 8 discs of approximately 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in diameter.
- Prick the discs of dough with a fork and place them gradually on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the dough discs in the oven at 320 F (160°C) for about 10 to 15 minutes per baking sheet. The dough discs should be golden.
- In a saucepan, add the water and the sugar, and stir.
- Boil the content over low to medium heat.
- Mix regularly until obtaining a liquid syrup.
- Heat until the mixture reaches a temperature between 250 F and 265 F (120°C and 130°C) maximum.
- Regularly clean the sides of the pan using a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from sticking to the edges and falling into the sugar during cooking.
- While the syrup gradually reaches the desired temperature, as soon as the sugar reaches 237 F (114°C), beat the egg whites until they start to become firm.
- When the syrup is at the right temperature, turn off the heat and lower the speed of the mixer to the lowest speed.
Drizzle the syrup over the beaten egg whites, taking care that the syrup does not touch the whisk attachment, as the speed could cause the syrup to splash and the egg whites would become too stiff. So pour the syrup gradually in 30 seconds maximum.
- When the syrup is added, increase the speed of the mixer to the maximum and beat for about 10 minutes. The meringue must cool before stopping the mixer.
- Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag with the tip of your choice.
- Place a disk of dough on a serving dish or tray and spread at least a tablespoon of dulce de leche. Place another disc of dough on top.
- Do this until the dough discs and dulce de leche are used up.
- Spread dulce de leche between each layer of cookie until the last one, which should not have dulce de leche on it.
- Cover the last layer with meringue using the pastry bag.
- Lightly flame the meringue with a blowtorch (optional).