Mallomars Or Nha Benta? | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Mallomars Or Nha Benta?

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Mallomars Or Nha Benta?

Claudia Turl, the owner of Maria Torta. Leticia Schwartz/JW

Brazil’s version of mallomars is something you can make at home.

Maria Torta is a grandmotherly bakery in Teresópolis, a mountain city an hour north of Rio de Janeiro. The bakery opened in the early 1980s, and has been serving Brazilian baked goods for many generations. I grew up going to Teresópolis on the weekends and also during the months of December and January, when school is off in Brazil — just in time for Chanukah!

Back then, there was no Belgium chocolate, or Valhrona, or any other imported chocolate brands for that matter. At the time, Maria Torta was the only game in town, and boy it was good.

Claudia Turl, the owner, has always had a special touch for all things sweet. There may have been some savory fare, but all I remember was the tempting desserts. The assortment was huge: brigadeiros, mousses, puddings … and then there was Nha Benta, the Brazilian Mallomar. Every year at Chanukah, my mother would buy a box of Nha Benta for the house. It disappeared before celebrations began.

Nha Benta is easy to love and easy to make. On a trip to Teresópolis, I asked Claudia to take photos of the process, and without reading the recipe at all — just by looking at the photos — you can tell how easy it is to reproduce this iconic Brazilian treat. Grab a sweet cracker (Claudia uses Nestle), pipe Italian meringue on top and dip into chocolate glaze. That’s it! Done!

When adapting the recipe in my own kitchen, I searched for a comparable cookie and came up with Nila Wafers as I like their small size, though you can certainly use another kind of cookie. Once I made the recipe using Maria cookies from Goya, and while the circle base it a lot larger, it also made a very authentic Nha Benta.

A long time has passed.  A lot has changed in Teresópolis. A lot has changed in Brazil. But Maria Torta is still there. The memories of this bakery are forever in my mind, and Nha Bentas are still helping me celebrate Chanukah.

  • Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
    Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
  • Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
    Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
  • Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
    Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
  • Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
    Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
  • Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
    Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
  • Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
    Mallomars Or Nha Benta?
Servings & Times
  • Makes about 42
Active Time:
  • 1 hr
Total Time:
  • 30 min

3 egg whites (about ½ cup or 100g)

2/3 cup (150 g) sugar

1/8 teaspoon (pinch) salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

42 vanilla wafer cookies (1 ½ inch diameter)

2 lbs (908g) baker’s chocolate (no need to temper), chopped

  1. To make the meringue, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt and place in the bowl of an electric mixer set over a pot of simmering water – the bowl should not touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch; it should look slightly foamy and the sugar completely dissolved.
  2. Bring the bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on medium to high speed, until the mixture is fluffy, glossy and completely cool, about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and whip.
  3. To assemble the cookies, lay the vanilla cookies into a sheet pan. Scoop the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip number 4, and pipe the meringue on top of the cookie.
  4. To make the glaze, place the chopped chocolate in a bowl, on the top of a pan filled with simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water) and without ever leaving the spot, heat the chocolate until it’s ¾ of the way melted.
  5. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and finish melting by hand mixing with a rubber spatula (to prevent the chocolate from getting too hot). Let it stand until the glaze cools but is still fluid.
  6. Drop each Nha Benta into the chocolate glaze and flip to cover the entire outside. Using a chocolate fork, lift them out and let the excess glaze drop. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat the process until all are covered.
  7. A note about baker’s chocolate:For many years, I looked at baker’s chocolate with disdain, thinking that a real chocolatier would never use this kind of product: chocolate mixed with vegetable fat. But recently, baker’s chocolate or pate a glacer — as it’s called in the pastry world — received the attention of some of the finest chocolate brands in the world, and today’s version of the product is a lot more refined, incredibly flavorful, and a lot easier to buy it ready. Note that when using this chocolate, you don’t need to temper it, making it perfect to dip fresh fruit and other cookies. I buy a brand called Felchlin from a purveyor called Swiss Challet Fine Foods ( Cacao Barry also makes a great version and you can buy it online at If you don’t want to hunt for this product, you can always make your own pate a glacer by mixing melted chocolate with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (3 tablespoons of oil for 12 ounces of chocolate).