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Tortita negra is a Spanish dessert pastry that is popular in the Spanish cuisine of South American countries like Argentina, Columbia and Venezuela. The name, in Spanish, means little black pastry. It is a round, flat-based pastry that is made from flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter and milk and it gets its dark color from the sugar topping that turns black when the pastry is baked. Popular as party desserts, these pastries can be bought ready-made or can be easily made at home.
Yeast is a necessary ingredient in making tortita negra as it helps the pastry dough to ferment and rise. The dough is made by adding the yeast to a mixture of milk, butter, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, sugar and salt. It is then covered with a damp cloth and the bowl is set aside for a few hours to let the dough rise and double in size.
After the dough has risen, it is rolled flat, and dusted with flour on both sides to keep it from sticking to the rolling surface. The dough is rolled, folded, dusted all over with flour and kneaded well several times until it is nicely soft and smooth. It is then covered again with a damp cloth, and left to stand for about half an hour to allow it to rise some more.
The risen dough is now rolled flat once more and is cut into the required round tortita negra shapes; a cookie cutter can be used to get exact rounds, or a small bowl can be used in the same way. The round dough shapes are brushed with melted butter and flour, placed neatly in a pan and set aside to rise yet again. This may take up to 20 minutes and, once the dough shapes have risen, they are brushed with egg yolk and more flour; the flour is to keep the tortita negra pastries from sticking to the pan when they are baked. If desired, fruit pieces and chopped nuts can also be studded into the round dough shapes at this time.
Before the pastry dough shapes are placed in the oven, they are covered all over with a mixture of brown sugar and flour. The pastries are then baked at a moderate temperature for about half an hour. The brown sugar melts with the heat and turns black, giving the tortita negra pastries their distinctive dark appearance.
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