Dessert / Side Dish

Christmas Eve Torte: A sweet and savory side for salad, or after dinner “cheese” dish with a glass of Port

ChristmasTorte

This pretty torte is a personal favorite and something guests always rave about. We had it last night at an annual December gathering of friends and family. I encourage you to throw caution to the wind and embrace the mixture of textures and flavors. Substitute other stone fruits when you make it in a different season (pear, peach….) Because the torte is served at room temperature it’s an excellent dish for a buffet.

Christmas Eve Torte

A sweet and savory side for salad, or after dinner “cheese” dish with a glass of Port.

Ingredients:

Crust

1 Cup finely ground GF pretzels or savory crackers (Mi-Del pretzles work well)

½ Cup chopped toasted walnuts (or pecans, almonds, or pine nuts)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Filling

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sour cream

¼ pound good quality Brie cheese, room temperature

3 large organic eggs

1 ½ cup soft prunes (Sunsweet’s D’Noir Prunes are perfect!)

1 cup homemade Pesto (use your favorite recipe or the one below.)

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Topping

½ cup plum jam (Trappist Damson Plum works well.)

¼ cup thinly diced prunes

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

Directions:

Oven set to Bake at 325; 9-10” spring form pan, buttered.

  1. Pulse the pretzel crumbs, nuts and butter in a food processor until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Press into the bottom of the spring form pan and bake 10 minutes.  Wipe out the bowl of the processor for the next step.
  2. Blend the cheeses and sour cream in a food processor until smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time.
  3. Pour half the “batter” onto the crust.  Dot the batter with pesto, spreading slightly to even it out.  You’ll want to do this carefully to keep the pesto on top of the cheese/eggs.
  4. Place the sliced prunes on top of the pesto to cover the entire surface.  Pour the remaining “batter” evenly over the prunes.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set, showing slight cracks, and lightly browned.  Cool in pan on a rack.  At this point the torte can be wrapped and chilled for up to two days.
  6. Before serving, sir together the jam, diced prunes, and vinegar in a small sauce pan until simmering.  Remove from heat; cool until warm.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Run a knife around the edge of the spring form pan, and remove the side.  At this point you can either leave it on the pan’s bottom or gently shift it to a flat serving plate using a large spatula. Spread the topping over the surface of the torte. Serve sliced wedges at room temperature.

Pesto

The lemon juice and zest add brightness to this recipe.  I like less garlic in mine – feel free to add another clove or two if you like the “zing” that comes from more.  The water helps make a consistency that works easily with the torte recipe.

Ingredients:

4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

½ cup (2 ½ ounces) pine nuts

¼ cup dark olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon lemon zest

¼ teaspoon salt

Optional: Freshly grated pepper

Directions:

  1. Blend the basil leaves, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor.
  2. While blending drizzle in the olive oil.
  3. Add the cheese, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt and 1 tablespoon water, and blend until smooth.
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