The irresistible Bolo de Bolacha, or Portuguese Biscuit Cake, is a true temptation that few can resist. With Maria biscuits taking on the starring role, this dessert has become an icon on Portuguese tables. However, surprisingly, the origin of Maria biscuits is not Portuguese.

Curious? Then, read on to discover the intriguing story of this biscuit born in England but adopted by the Portuguese, winning their hearts. As a delicacy that transcends borders, the Bolo de Bolacha reflects the richness and diversity of gastronomic influences that shape the national cuisine.

Over time, this dessert has taken on various forms and variations, each with the unique touch of those who prepare it. From generous layers of cream to sublime coffee aromas, the Bolo de Bolacha has become a culinary canvas where creativity is celebrated. And there is plenty of creativity, as the possibilities to enhance this cake are numerous!

So, in this article, we'll unveil the fascinating English origin of the Bolo de Bolacha, explore some of its delicious variations, and share our favorite recipe with you. After all, cuisine is a universal language that connects us through taste, and we want to guide you on a journey of authentic flavors.

In addition, in the section dedicated to our recipe, we provide a simple and accessible step-by-step guide so that you can create this delicacy in your own kitchen.

And beyond savoring the Bolo de Bolacha, we encourage you to explore more about the rich Portuguese culture, including other delightful desserts, available on our LoveitPortugal website, where 100% Portuguese products are celebrated.

Ready to dive into this unique experience of flavors and traditions? Then, let's do it!

The Origin of Bolacha Maria

The story behind Bolacha Maria dates back to 1874 when a skillful English baker created it to celebrate the wedding of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia to the Duke of Edinburgh.

This unique biscuit was made with very simple ingredients: wheat flour, sugar, oil, and vanilla essence, featuring the word "Maria" engraved in its center. This distinctive detail not only gave rise to its name but also immortalized the tribute to the newlywed Duchess of Edinburgh.

It's interesting to note that in France and French-speaking regions, the biscuit is known as "Marie." However, the Portuguese have a special connection with Bolacha Maria, feeling it as their own.

Perhaps this emotional appropriation is due to the popularity of the name Maria among Portuguese women.

Additionally, the biscuit, known for its easy digestion, is often offered to babies from a young age, initially mixed with fruit and later consumed as a complete snack.

Thus, Bolacha Maria has become a sweet reminder of childhood for a large part of the Portuguese population.

Variations of Bolo de Bolacha (Portuguese Biscuit Cake)

The Bolo de Bolacha phenomenon peaked in the 1970s, capturing the hearts and palates of Portuguese homemakers with its uncomplicated preparation and deliciously comforting taste.

At any celebration or festivity, there it was—the Bolo de Bolacha—starring either Maria biscuits or toasted biscuits, a rectangular version with a slightly caramelized aroma.

Each family guarded its recipe like a treasure, often without exact measurements, giving it a unique and personalized touch. The final result became a delightful surprise with each preparation.

The liquid used to soak the biscuits could also vary beyond the classic coffee. Some opted for the smoothness of barley, while others enriched the recipe with spirited touches like whiskey or Port wine.

In a more contemporary twist, innovations emerged, such as adding a sponge cake base to the Bolo de Bolacha, accompanied by a generous layer of liquid caramel, elevating this delicacy to new levels of indulgence and flavor.

Our Bolo de Bolacha Recipe (Portuguese Biscuit Cake)

Recreating the nostalgic magic of Bolo de Bolacha, a delicacy that evokes affectionate childhood memories, is easier than you might imagine. This simple, generationally passed-down recipe stands out for its simplicity and irresistible flavor.

Prepared with Maria biscuits, aromatic coffee, creamy butter, sugar, and a touch of vanilla, believe that you will be surprised by the incredible taste.


  • 400g Maria biscuits

  • 200ml strong coffee, prepared and cooled

  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 200g sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence


Start by preparing the strong coffee and set it aside to cool.

In a bowl, beat the butter until it reaches a creamy consistency.

Add the sugar to the beaten butter and continue beating until you get a smooth and homogeneous mixture.

Add the vanilla essence to the butter and sugar mixture, incorporating well.

Dip each Maria biscuit, one by one, into the prepared coffee.

Make sure they are well soaked but not too much to compromise the structure of the cake.

On a serving plate, start forming alternating layers of biscuits and cream, ensuring a uniform covering after each layer.

Continue this process until you run out of biscuits and cream. Finish with a layer of cream, smoothing it carefully for an elegant finish.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours or, ideally, overnight. This period allows the cake to absorb flavors and achieve the desired texture.

Before serving, decorate according to your preference, using grated biscuits, chocolate, or even a light dusting of cocoa powder. Enjoy every spoonful!

Learn more about Portuguese culture and desserts

Explore our website for a complete immersion into the richness of Portuguese culture, where each page is a journey through the gastronomic and historical heritage of Portugal.

We not only offer recipes but also tell stories that celebrate the unique essence of this country.

Discover the secrets behind iconic dishes, such as the irresistible pastéis de nata. In addition to recipes, explore our articles dedicated to Portuguese culture, traditions, customs, and events that have shaped this country over the centuries.

Appreciate the best that Portugal has to offer, from its exceptional cuisine to its deepest traditions, not forgetting the unmistakable filigree, cork, burel, and reed.

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