Cheese tortes are pretty, flavorful, impressive, expensive to buy, and oh so easy to make. I’ve found them to also be a good way to use up leftovers (peas are surprisingly good used this way) and handy to have on hand. More than once an unexpected guest was wowed when I just happened to have a homemade cheese torte I could serve them.
All you’ll need, for each torte, is:
A container for a mold. You can use a plastic storage container, jello mold, or spring-form pan in whatever you want the final size and shape of your torte to be. Just don’t go to big in diameter and use a shallow container. Granted you won’t be filling it to the top, but too much left over container can make it difficult to remove the torte without damaging it.
For my small “keep on hand” tortes I’ve also reused containers from the grocery. The ones hummus or pesto come in are perfect. The added twist with these is when you turn the torte out there will be a depression on the top that is fun to fill with nuts or more filling.
Cream cheese at room temperature to “glue it all together.”
A medium hard cheese to layer (optional.) I only do this with a small torte. The firmness can add structure and help keep layers straight and pretty. On the other hand a truly hard cheese will be difficult to cut and your lovely torte will be destroyed when served.
Additions. This is usually sundried tomatoes, chopped olive, and /or pesto sauce. But feel free to be creative here, and have fun with it. Nuts especially pine nuts make an excellent addition. Be sure your ingredients are finely chopped.
Plastic Cling Film. This will help maintain the integrity of the final product and make it easier to get out of the mold.
Line the mold with plastic cling film, keeping creases to a minimum, they will show up in your final presentation. Let it drape over the outside of the container. There should be plenty to cover the top when you’re done.
On the bottom of the container create the top of your torte. Arranging something in a pattern (like olive slices) is a nice decorative touch. Your decoration will be embedded in the top of the torte. Perhaps you would rather decorate after you un-mold the torte (like in the illustration above.) In that case go on to your first cheese layer.
The first cheese layer is your creamed cheese. Spread a thin layer evenly along the bottom of the container; pancake thin, not crepe thin.
Next put a thin layer of a filling, followed by a layer of cheese. They are pretty when your layers are of equal height, however, a single layer of filling between two thick layers of cheese also works and adds flavor and interest. Continue alternating layers till you have at most six to eight layers.
Now bring one side of your cling film up at a time and cover the bottom of your torte. Apply slight pressure; just enough to smooth the bottom and be sure the layers are securely fitted together. You don’t want to squish it, but you don’t want it to be loose either.
Now refrigerate it for several hours or overnight. If you’re making this for a party it can easily be done the day before. Actually it will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Un-molding works best when it is thoroughly chilled, and basically one solid piece. Remember, like all cheeses you’ll want to set it out an hour before your guests arrive.
Gently coax the torte from the mold.
Place the torte on a plate topside down, just the way it was in the mold. Unwrap the bottom of the mold. Cover it with the plate on which you’ll be serving it and flip it over. Remove the plate that is now on the top, and gently remove the cling film.
Tidy up anything you may need it and garnish.
Serve with crackers or baguette bread.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/louise_marston/34388726/”>louise_using_spoons</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>