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.