Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pumpkin Crunch Torte

I received this email from my fabulous, gorgeous, talented, youthful, vibrant, funny, caring and all-around wonderful sister, Cathy.
Thanx, Sissy!
and thanx Laura!

Joe - This recipe comes from my friend, Laura Schiavone, from my dance group. Poor Laura always gets stuck bringing dessert because she is such a FABULOUS baker, despite the fact that she is also a fabulous cook. Laura is so good, that she bakes desserts for restaurants -- you know, those cakes that the restaurants charge $8 per slice??? Once, she did a wedding, where the centerpiece for each table was a beautifully decorated, incredibly tasty cake (each table's cake was different!). She's so talented, and she is kind enough to pass along recipes to me whenever I ask. Anyway, this pumpkin crunch torte has become a once-a-year must for our get-togethers, usually when we see each other right before Thanksgiving.

It does involve a few steps, but it is really not as hard as it might seem by looking at the long recipe. And it is so worth it, especially for something special like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner ... (not to mention you are absolutely guaranteed to impress the hell out of everyone!) So, here goes...

Crunch Top:
1 1/2 cups finely chopped nuts (your choice)
1 1/2 cups finely ground vanilla wafer cookies
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

Mix all the above ingredients with a fork until well blended. Divide among 4 round cake pans, pressing firmly onto the bottom only of each pan.

1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 16 oz. can pumpkin
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Cream the butter and sugar for 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin, yogurt and eggs to the creamed mixture.
Sift together the dry ingredients, and add to pumpkin mixture.

Divide the batter among the four pans that already have the crunch mixture in the bottom. Smooth and even out the batter. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Stagger pans in oven and rotate halfway through baking time.

Whipped Cream:
1 quart heavy cream
3 tbsp. confectioners sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whip together until stiff peaks form.

Place 1st layer on cake plate, crunch side down. Spread evenly 1/4 of whipped cream on layer. Top with next layer and repeat procedure. On the top layer, spoon or use a pastry bag to place whipped cream around outside edge of the top layer, and make a nice pretty mound in center as well. (This is just to make it decorative - you can actually just mound the whipped cream on the top however you like.) If you like, top the whipped cream with chopped nuts for an extra decorative touch.

Tip from Joey:
Make sure to follow the recipe as it's written and don't take any shortcuts. Yes, it says to cream the butter and sugar for TEN minutes. You won't even believe the fluffy texture that is created by this!
If you don't have four layer pans, you can mix everything up as directed and then just bake two layers at a time, or you can buy four disposable aluminium pans. You can find them at any grocery store or dollar store. They're very inexpensive and I think they're slightly smaller (like 8 1/2" rather than 9"), but they'll work perfectly for you.

No comments: