Friday, May 28, 2010

The Best Goat Cheese Torte Ever

Luscious. Splashy. Soothing. Invigorating. How can one torte do it all. Rich, intoxicating goat cheese with a layer of minty-herb spring green pesto and a layer of sweet-spring-song plum jam. How can you resist?
`
This torte came to me at the perfect time. I am wrestling with elves and I cannot see my way clear to the end of their story. It's a famous story. It's not like I don't know how it ends. I just don't know who these elves are. And it's due in two weeks.


I mortgaged the homestead and sprung for Coach Farm's goat cheese. No elves were going to leave me any. I was going to follow Mario Batali's recipe - but he added butter to the goat cheese and I thought - if I'm going to spring for truly rich goat cheese it should be flavorful enough to stand on its own. I didn't want it mellow. I wanted the tang. I craved the hints of savory. In making that decision, I greatly eased the preparation.

The goat cheese needed no extras. It stood on its own scrumptious bottom and claimed the day. You could purchase jam - Chef Batali recommends fig jam which would add Italian summery sunshine. I made some jam - because I needed a little time at the stove to summon the elves.
`
I knew I had a hit when my very theatrical, food-clueless friends began a discussion of the layers and wanted to know each ingredient - wished to taste the layers separately and then taste again with all the layers on one chunk of bread. A conversation starter! (Although theatricals are not noted for their lack of conversation.)

Adapted from a recipe by Bon Appetit, I made the easiest jam recipe on the planet. I lowered the sugar amount and created plum jam. It felt good to let the stove work its magic and transform fruit to jam. I like transformations but you probably knew that.


Chop 3-5 medium, ripe plums - no need to peel. Add two tablespoons honey (I used Mitica's Orange Blossom), 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, 4 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary and a pinch of Meyer lemon salt. (Pat from Mille Fiori Favoriti would approve of the salt choice. You can use a bit of sea salt.) Bring to a boil in a medium saucepan, lower to simmer and stir occasionally until the mixture thickens - about 20 minutes. Cool. Put in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use (can be made two days ahread of time). Makes one cup.


The jam could be made with any stone fruit - apricots, nectarines or peaches. I'm also thinking berries - although would adjust cooking time and and lower the vinegar amount.
You can purchase basil pesto but I did go with the minty-herb pesto Mario Batali recommended. I changed it just a bit - more herby than nutty.

In a blender combine 1/2 cup fresh mint, 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, 1/4 cup fresh thyme, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts. Cover all with olive oil and blend - stop once to stir. makes 1/2 cup.



I left a few nuts chunky.
`
Now the fun part:
Get a "hunk of 12-16 ounces of favorite goat cheese (not a skinny log and definitely not crumbles!) Coach Farm does come in the shape of a torte. A cheese shop would cut a chunk for you. "

1. Prepare dish to hold the goat cheese. The dish should easily fit the torte. Cut parchment paper to fit bottom of dish. Spray with Pam or oil the parchment.
2. Slice goat cheese into three equal layers. If the goat cheese is firm (put it in a freezer for ten minutes) it easily slices.
3. Put one layer on prepared parchment paper. Evenly spread the herb pesto on top of it.

4. Top the pesto with the second layer of goat cheese. Carefully spread the jam on top of the middle layer. Or not so carefully - mine oozed and I delighted in the ooze.
5. Add the third layer.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Do ahead: Can be refrigerated for two days.

To serve: Slide goat cheese on to serving plate. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle black pepper.
`
There is no "goat-cheese-torte police." Whether you purchase your jam and pesto and just assemble the torte or do it all from scratch, it so satisfying to create something - especially when you have an "elf" problem as I do.
`
I love how this torte touches so many places in your palate - dancing from creamy to minty to tangy to sweet to pepper to pillowy cream.
When elves remain silent, there's always this amazing goat cheese torte. Wishing everyone a loving Memorial Day filled with sweet appreciations. If you do happen upon the elves, please send them my way.

29 comments:

Fresh Local and Best said...

Claudia, you presented all of the luscious layers of this torte beautifully!

Lemons said...

Beautiful torte--love all the layers of flavor!

Mary said...

What a gorgeous creation. I have to make some time to prepare this. It looks wonderful. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

owlmoon said...

If the elves haven't responded to the aromas from your kitchen, maybe there's something (someone?) blocking their path. Perhaps a walk in the garden...

JillyAn said...

that is absolutely beautiful and I'm sure it was as good as it looks!

girlichef said...

I would probably have a hard time not just eating the cheese like candy alone...but these layers are tickling my tongue all the way over here...it looks and sounds superb! Now...where are my elves...

Ciao Chow Linda said...

All those wonderful flavors would sing on their own - but together, it's like a symphony.

Ruth said...

Wow! What flavours and textures!!! No wonder the theatricals reacted!! Quite envious myslf lol so want a bit!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

These could quickly become my favorites with the rich goat cheese and fig jam. Meyers lemon salt - I'll have to keep an eye out for it. Sounds delicious.
Sam

5 Star Foodie said...

It sounds amazing! I love the combo of minty-herb pesto and the jam, yum!

Mister Meatball said...

You are welcome to entertain the elves.

I'd prefer not to have them about, as that would ensure more torte for yours truly!

Barbara GF said...

Oh, Claudia, I do believe I hear those elves chattering now — about how divine is this torte! And Coach Farm is right here in the Hudson Valley — a great local producer of goat cheese (Mario's in-laws own it).
I love the recipe for plum jam — a must try for me!

pegasuslegend said...

wow what a masterpiece, gorgeous to look at and divine to eat....amazing flavors and I could just imagine the taste...amazing :)

Cinnamon-Girl said...

I was thinking the same thing as pegasuslegend - what a work of delicious art! I am trying to imagine the flavors and I fear I'm nowhere close - I hope you saved me a piece! This would certainly lure those elves in...

Anncoo said...

Oh Claudia! Please pass me some, I would like to have it right now ;))

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Such a wealth of flavours! What a extravagant treat! I wish I could have tasted it!

My Little Space said...

Such a wonderful recipe! Love the simplicity of it. Hope you'll have a wonderful weekend, Claudia!
Cheers, kristy

Adventures in Domestic Cooking said...

Wow, that has got to be great!!
=)

theUngourmet said...

This looks like heaven to me! I bet this would wake up your tastebuds in an instant with such a wonderful punch of flavors!

Chow and Chatter said...

wow impressive but your a fab cook all the time

janet said...

Wow, that is magnificent. Yum for every layer! I have to try that jam as soon as I get my hands on some plums.

biz319 said...

You had me at goat cheese - yum!!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Ahhh...I'd trade a thousand elves if I could for a taste of your torte! It must have been amazing!

Back from all my travels..tired now and have to catch up on much.Hope you had an enjoyable holiday weekend, Claudia!

Jamie said...

Wow this is amazing! The flavor combination is stunning. Brilliant! At first glance I thought it had been heated through. Nice thought too, though? I love this!

Table Talk said...

Yep...this one's a keeper.

Shree said...

so gorgeous, and such great flavors. awesome

Sophie said...

An unbelievable, unique & fantastic well flavoured dish, dear Claudia!

How is the new bike????

Kevin said...

Goat cheese, pesto and plum jam sounds like an amazing combo!

OysterCulture said...

Oh my goodness, Claudia - you are a genius! What an incredible treat that you've shared with us.