Fresh Fig, Mascarpone, and Pesto Torte

Adapted from Gourmet, September 1996


Yield: Serves 16 to 32 as an appetizer



For the crust

  •     1 cup finely ground wheat crackers such as Wheat Thins
  •     1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden, cooled, and ground fine
  •     1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling

  •     1 1/4 pounds cream cheese, softened
  •     1/2 cup mascarpone or sour cream
  •     3 large eggs
  •     1 1/4 cups homemade basil pesto or prepared basil pesto
  •     2 pounds firm-ripe fresh figs (about 16 large), 1 pound cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  •     1/2 cup fig preserves (available at specialty food shops)
  •     1 1/2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

Accompaniment: baguettes cut diagonally into thin slices and toasted lightly




Step 1: To make crust: Preheat oven to 325° F. and butter a 10-inch springform pan.


Step 2: In a bowl with a fork stir together crust ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Press mixture into bottom of pan and bake in middle of oven 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.


Step 3: To make filling:  In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together filling ingredients and salt and pepper to taste until very smooth.

Step 4: To assemble torte: Pour half of filling into crust.

Step 5: Drop dollops of pesto over filling and spread carefully to form an even topping. (Some filling may show through.) Top pesto layer with half of fig slices, overlapping them slightly.


Step 6: Pour remaining filling over figs, spreading evenly.


Step 7: Bake torte in middle of oven 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until top is golden brown and set. Cool torte in pan on a rack (filling will deflate slightly). Chill torte, covered loosely, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.


Step 8: In a small saucepan stir together preserves and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and cool mixture. Stir in salt to taste.


Step 9: Slice remaining pound figs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side. Spread torte with preserves mixture, leaving a 1/4-inch border, and top decoratively with remaining fig slices. With 2 large metal spatulas transfer torte to a serving plate.


Step 10: Serve torte at room temperature to spread on toasts.


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