An Alternative To Pumpkin Pie…

I love the spices that emerge this time of year to warm our hearts, homes and palates, and some desserts just have “holiday” written all over them.  Take this Chocolate Cinnamon Walnut Ricotta Torte with Spiced Poached Pears and Plums… a mouthful to say, but worth every bite!

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I was thinking about “desserts” (not that it takes a major holiday to evoke such thoughts…) and immediately asked myself, “Does it necessarily have to be pumpkin pie?”

For the Man Of Few Words, yes — that’s his perennial favorite, holiday or not.  But for me, hmmm…

Why not make two desserts?!  (Three actually, counting the aforementioned pie and this delectable combination.)

I have Sue Ann Gleason of Chocolate For Breakfast to thank for the torte recipe.  (Thanks, Sue Ann!)  Filled with toasted walnuts, cinnamon, and Ricotta, it’s a small slice of heaven on a plate and perfectly capable of standing on it’s own.

(Must do research for accurate reporting…)

But when I decided to pair it recently with fruit poached in a spicy wine sauce, it gave me even more reasons to be thankful!

Chocolate Cinnamon Walnut Ricotta Torte with Spiced Poached Pears & Plums

Chocolate Cinnamon Walnut Ricotta Torte* (preferrably still warm)

1 + 1/2 cups white wine (I used Chardonnay)

1 + 1/2 cups water

3/4 to 1 c. Turbinado sugar

1/2 lemon rind, julienned

1 whole cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp. whole cloves

1/2 tsp. whole allspice

3 black peppercorns

1 tsp. vanilla (I was out of vanilla beans…)

4 pears, peeled, cored and halved

4 plums, pitted and halved (I didn’t peel them)

Combine wine, water and sugar in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat.  (I used 1 cup of sugar for this recipe since the torte isn’t overly sweet, but if you’re making the poached fruit to serve “on it’s own,” reduce sugar to 3/4 cup.)  Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Add lemon rind, spices and vanilla; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and carefully slip the pears and plums into the poaching liquid.  Simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes, pressing fruit down with the back of a wooden spoon now and then to keep it submerged.

When fruit is fork tender, remove pan from heat, cover, and allow to cool to room temperature.  Using a slotted spoon, remove fruit to a bowl.  If desired, return sauce to heat and reduce to desired consistency.  (I did!)  Strain the poaching liquid over the fruit; discard spices.

Serve each slice of torte with a poached pear and a plum; drizzle with sauce.

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Enjoying the warmth of the pending holidays,

~ Kim

* ©2011 Sue Ann Gleason ~ Radiant Life Expert, Conscious Bites Nutrition ~ Visit her at to grab her free report: 7 Secrets to a Fit, Radiant, & Rockin’ New You or to subscribe to her ezine.

26 thoughts on “An Alternative To Pumpkin Pie…

  1. You have a point here. I will eat a sliver of pumpkin pie but it’s not a requirement for me. I would rather have something more interesting and this will certainly fit the bill!!
    I can’t wait to try this, maybe sans nuts since my son is allergic, THe pictures are mouth watering!!

  2. This recipe looks delicious! I love wine in cooking and I am sure that in cakes will be equally delicious. I wish I had a piece of this cake…
    Thank you for your nice comments in Michal’s Blog. I am glad to meet you too!!

    • Thank you so much, Chopinand & Mysaucepan! I’m already dreaming of making that torte again in a few days… :) The plate was my Grandma’s (Depression glass) and it’s a treasure. Thanks for noticing it — and for your comment that made me smile!
      ~ Kim

  3. Okay….it’s time for another “special” luncheon with my friend the Chef! December looks good to me. Seriously, keep up the good work on the blog, I’m so impressed with the recipes, photos and especially the inner thoughts. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating….so glad God brought you into my life!

    • Miss Marla, it’s a date! Thank you for your uplifting comments and also for labeling me a “chef.” :) Looking forward to whipping up something special just for YOU. Happy Thanksgiving!
      ~ Kim
      P.S. Forgive me for being so late in replying… off on another musical adventure, lol!

  4. What a delightful dessert, perfect for the coming holiday! Wonder when I’ll have the chance to try your baking.

    Love how you’d incorporate wine into the dish. The Spiced Poached Pears & Plums are making me drool!

    • Shirley, I think you’d like this dessert … a treat to relax with after all of your adventures. :) Always so nice to see your smile, here and on your blog!
      ~ Kim

    • Wan, so nice of you to come here and comment, too! (I was out of town for several days and apologize for not replying sooner…) I’m looking forward to trading recipes and thoughts with you, and if all else fails, we can “meet” at Ann’s! :) Happy Thanksgiving!
      ~ Kim

  5. While the components of this dessert are delicious as a stand alone dish, the pairing does take it to a new level. So much so that the desire for the stand alone is no longer there and the combo is required. Your plating does inspire. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  6. Wow! That’s stunning! A couple of years ago, I made Thanksgiving dinner for my entire family…I made the WHOLE meal! That year, I made 9 pies. We had 17 people! However, I didn’t make anything as exotic as this – really, this is beautiful!

    • NINE pies!!! It must have looked like a bake-off in your kitchen — what fun! I’m sure your family appreciated your efforts — I certainly would have! Thanks, Ann!
      ~ Kim

    • Sid, thank you for bringing up the texture! The toasted walnuts really set this off… a little crunch to go with the sweet and chocolate… need I say more?! Thanks again for your encouragement.
      ~ Kim
      P.S. Keep taking pictures and don’t forget to laugh at the “duds” — that’s what I do. :)

  7. The torte looks great (and I, for one, don’t feel committed to pumpkin pie, though I wouldn’t turn down a slice either)–but what’s really making me crave a bite right now are those pieces of fruit poached in the spicy wine sauce. That looks like a Thanksgiving dessert I could REALLY get behind!

    • Jenna, I plan on eating pumpkin pie AND this torte! (Maybe not at the same time… but you know me, gotta make — and eat– pies. :) This dessert is a keeper year-round! Thanks so much for your comments!
      ~ Kim

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