The other night, after teaching one of my Connecticut cooking classes , I found myself with a few left-over ingredients that were begging to be turned into something wonderful. I had a decent sized chunk of Gorgonzola cheese and some Neufatchel cheese (light cream cheese), and something told me a torte was on the horizon.
Now by torte, I do not mean the baked, dessert variety. I mean the cute little round of spreadable cheese with some sort of yummy, nutty topping perfect for crackers. No, I do NOT mean a cheddar cheese ball covered in nuts, a staple of every cocktail party held in the 70s. Just by calling it a ‘torte’ you immediately get points for being current.
Inspired by a torte I saw at my local Trader Joe’s, I set out to create my own, homemade version which would surely impress my friends at an upcoming party. After bringing both cheeses to room temperature, I popped them into the food processor to create a smooth spread (the cream cheese helps to hold the Gorgonzola together). Then I made my topping from dried cranberries and toasted, chopped walnuts (hazelnuts would be a fantastic substitute). I pressed them into a medium-sized ramekin lined with waxed paper and topped with the cheese mixture. It is important to press it down so the ‘torte’ shape will take. Refrigerate and then invert onto a plate when ready to serve (so the nut topping will be on top). Cheese balls, step aside—- a torte is in the house!
Makes one torte (5 inches in diameter)
4 oz Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons walnuts
1 – 16 oz ramekin lined with waxed paper
First prepare your mold. Line the inside of your ramekin with waxed paper so it comes up the sides and out the top. Lightly spray the waxed paper with non-stick cooking spray.
Next, place the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast gently. They burn quickly, so be careful to keep an eye on them! Place on a cutting board and chop along with the cranberries. Set aside until cool, then press them in an even layer in the bottom of the ramekin.
Add the Gorgonzola to the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbled (if not already in that form). Add the cream cheese and process until combined and smooth. Carefully spoon the cheese mixture into the ramekin (on top of the nut mixture), and using a rubber spatula sprayed with cooking spray, press into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hrs or overnight.
When ready to serve, invert onto a serving plate, carefully remove the waxed paper and serve with crackers.