CINNAMON PEANUT BUTTER TORTE
You’ve planned a delicious appetizer for your holiday gathering and decided the entrée will be a savory dish–a cherished old family favorite. You’ve added a few well-loved side dishes and everyone’s favorite roasted potatoes. Now, what to do for an awesome dessert that doesn’t take too much fussing, yet looks sensational?
Here’s what I noticed over the years after preparing and serving many a holiday dinner: The appetizers and entrée may be exceptional, and perhaps even lavish, but most likely it’s the dessert that everyone remembers. And it’s no surprise–sweet memories linger longer.
If you loved peanut butter since you were a kid and could never get enough of it, you’ll find this well-endowed peanut butter torte easy to ravish. This torte is deliriously rich in flavor, densely packed with peanut butter, and perfectly accented with cinnamon to bring out its sweetness. The list of ingredients in this dessert relies mostly on simple, whole foods, yet, the dessert gives the impression of a much more complex preparation.
The bonus for the host is that this tantalizing treat can be prepared several days ahead and left in the freezer until shortly before serving. That’s such a bonus for a crazy-busy holiday season when you really don’t have lots of time to spend on each course. I consider it a blessing when I can make the dessert well ahead and tuck it out of site until serving time.
CINNAMON PEANUT BUTTER TORTE
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
1 1/2 cups whole almonds
1 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
4 to 5 tablespoons water
1 1/3 cups pitted dates, snipped in half
1 cup smooth or chunky unsalted peanut butter
3/4 cup well-mashed firm tofu
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup organic sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries
1 tablespoon coarsely ground dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
6 to 8 sprigs fresh min
TO MAKE THE CRUST, cover the base of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of parchment paper 2 inches larger. Snap the collar back onto the base, and cut off the excess paper with scissors. Lightly oil the sides of the pan and set aside.
Put the almonds into the food processor and process until they become a coarse, slightly chunky meal.
Add the cranberries and water and pulse and process until the cranberries are broken down into tiny bits and the mixture holds together when gently pressed. You may have to stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the crust mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and press the mixture firmly with the back of a spoon to distribute it evenly. Set aside and wash and dry the work bowl.
TO MAKE THE FILLING, put the dates, peanut butter, tofu, soy milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in the food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Transfer the filling to the springform pan, and use a rubber spatula to spread the filling evenly over the crust.
Sprinkle the cranberries and peanuts over top and gently press them into the surface. If desired, sprinkle them in a design of your choosing. Freeze the torte until firm, about 8 to 12 hours. Remove it from the freezer about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
TO SERVE THE TORTE, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the torte. Place the pan on a large serving platter. Carefully lift off the collar. Decorate the platter with the mint and cut the torte into wedges.