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Author Notes: Incidentally, I first made this torte for Shauna Ahern's gluten-free Thanksgiving recipe roundup. The best part about this torte is that it can be dressed up or down as the occasion calls. A light cake made with 4 basic ingredients - nuts (walnuts/pecans), eggs, sugar and spices makes for a fantastic snack with a cup of coffee. Topped with spice-roasted apples and pears and a salted pumpkin caramel sauce and barely sweetened whipped cream, it is an elegant end to any dinner party. Any gluten-free friends at the table will not be left out. The components are simple and can be made ahead of time; you can add or leave them out as you like. Assemble the cake when ready to serve, though a couple of hours ahead will not do much harm. —Heena
- For walnut-pecan torte:
- 3.5 ounces (100 grams) chopped walnuts
- 3.5 ounces (100 grams) chopped pecans
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For pumpkin-caramel sauce:
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick unsalted butter)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
- 1 cup whipping cream
- generous pinch of sea salt
- For spice-roasted fruit:
- 2 apples (I like using a mix of sweet and tart), peeled and sliced
- 2 medium pears (I like using Bosc), peeled and sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- To Serve:
- 1 cup cold whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons fine sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Walnut/pecan halves
- Make the torte: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with waxed or parchment paper.
- Grind the chopped nuts and spices in a food processor using on and off turns until finely ground but not pasty. (If you start with whole nuts, you'll need to process for a longer time and will get a pasty mixture.)
- Beat egg yolks in a large bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 mins, Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until well blended, another 2-3 mins. Stir the ground nuts into the mixture.
- Beat egg whites in another bowl with cleaned beaters until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/2 cup of eggs whites into nut mixture to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a knife/cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-35 mins. Cool for 5 mins, then run a thin knife around the edges and release the sides of the pan. Cool to room temperature. (The center of the cake will sink.) (The cake can be made a day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)
- Make the pumpkin-caramel sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan with high sides over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir constantly until the mixture is a deep amber color (8-10 mins).
- Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the cream. Be careful as the mixture will bubble and rise. Place the pan on medium-low heat and stir until the mixture is smooth, about 5 mins.
- Add the pumpkin and stir until smooth. Add salt to taste. Cool to room temperature. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in the fridge and bring back to room temperature when using.)
- Make the roasted fruit: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Toss the fruits with the lemon juice, spices and butter. Place in a shallow layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven until the fruit is soft and golden, about 30-35 mins, turning the fruit after 15 mins with a spatula and checking to see it doesn't burn. Cool to room temperature on the sheet.
- Assemble: Pour a thin layer of pumpkin-caramel sauce over the cake. Layer the roasted fruit over the caramel. Whip cream in a cold bowl with sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread on top of the cake. Drizzle with more caramel sauce and garnish with walnut/pecan halves. (You will have leftover sauce depending on how much you use. Reserve to spoon later over ice cream/crepes/waffles/pudding/pound cake).
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Gluten-Free Baked Good
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Non-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert