Smooth, seductive dessert

Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Photo by Gerard O'Brien.

Lusciously creamy and rich-tasting, this glorious torte is velvety smooth and silky. A sublime end to a long leisurely lunch or dinner.

I have lightened the torte by using lower-fat creamy cheeses and reducing the amount of sugar. This lighter version gives the illusion of richness without compromise of flavour or texture.

Do not be tempted to replace the cottage cheese as this is what makes it so deliciously light. Cottage cheese has the ability to absorb and hold other flavours added to it.

If it is whipped to smoothness in a food processor I find its texture very appealing. Flavoured with orange liqueur it makes a seductive partner with dark, slightly bitter chocolate swirled through.

This pudding is not at all difficult and being able to make it a day or two ahead of time is always a plus.

Sometimes I make the base when I have half an hour to spare and pop it, well wrapped, into the fridge to chill. When convenient, an hour or a day later, I whip together the filling ingredients, pour into the chilled crust and bake.

You need serve nothing with it. This is deliciously, beautifully elegant by itself. However, I do adore raspberries as an accompaniment. Their perfumed, floral fruitiness is a mystical match with the torte.


Grand Marnier and chocolate torte

Ingredients

Base
150g digestive biscuits
40g ground almonds
50g butter, melted
2 tsp orange flower water or 1 tsp vanilla essence

Filling
500g regular cottage cheese, not light
220g extra light cream cheese (I use Philadelphia)
3 large eggs, size 7
1 large egg yolk
100g caster sugar
1 Tbsp custard powder or cornflour
grated zest of 1 large orange
1/4 cup Grand Marnier, other orange liqueur or orange juice
80g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into squares

To decorate
extra chocolate, grated

Method

Base: Line the base of a 22cm round springform tin with non-stick baking paper and lightly spray the sides.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor or with a rolling pin, then mix with the ground almonds, melted butter and orange flower water or vanilla essence.

Press the mixture evenly onto the base of the tin and about 2cm up the sides, pressing with your hands or the back of a spoon. Cover and place in the fridge to chill.

Preheat the oven to 170degC

To make the filling: Place the cottage cheese in a food processor and process for 3-4 minutes until smooth. To become totally smooth, the cottage cheese must be processed by itself.

Do not be tempted to add any other ingredients as it will not whip to creamy smoothness. Add other ingredients once the cottage cheese is smooth.

Add the cream cheese, eggs, egg yolk, caster sugar and custard powder and process briefly until just mixed.

Place the squares of chocolate in a glass jug and heat in the microwave on 50% power for 1-2 minutes. Chocolate holds its shape after heating, so stand before adding extra cooking time.

Or melt the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl set over, but not touching, simmering water. When melted, add about half of the cottage cheese mixture to the chocolate and mix well.

To the remaining cottage cheese mixture add the orange zest, Grand Marnier or orange juice and stir to combine. Pour the chocolate mixture on to the biscuit base.

Pour over the Grand Marnier mixture and gently swirl with a spoon to give a marbled effect. Place on a lipped oven tray, in case of any leaks, and bake for approximately 1 hour until set on the outside but slightly wobbly in the centre. Do not overcook.

Place the torte on a wire rack to cool a little. It is easier to remove from the tin if still slightly warm. Run a small sharp knife around the edges to loosen the torte. Remove it from the tin and slide it on to a serving platter. Cover with cling film and chill. Don't worry if a few cracks appear. They usually contract as the torte cools. If any remain they will be covered with grated chocolate.

This torte will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Sprinkle the top with grated chocolate or scatter fresh berries over. Serve chilled. Serves 10.

Cook's note

Surplus egg whites can be refrigerated, well-covered, for up to 3 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.

Egg whites freeze fairly well but they do lose a little of their ability to beat up to a stiff foam, so may not be the ideal choice for meringues or pavlovas.

Refrigerated whites, however, are perfect for pavlovas, as older egg whites are easier to whisk than fresh. Bring whites to room temperature before using.


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