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Goat Cheese and Almond Torte

  • SERVINGS: 16
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • VEGETARIAN
  1. 1 cup whole blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
  2. Vegetable oil, for frying
  3. 30 medium sage leaves
  4. 11 ounces mild goat cheese, softened
  5. 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
  6. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  7. Toasted croutons, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.
  2. Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet. Fry the sage leaves in 2 batches until crisp, about 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Let cool, then crumble.
  3. In a bowl, combine the goat cheese and cream cheese and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the pepper. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 5-inch overhang; smooth out any large wrinkles. Spread half of the cheese mixture evenly in the cake pan and sprinkle with two-thirds of the almonds; press them down lightly. Scatter the sage on top, then cover with the remaining cheese; don't dislodge the almonds. Fold the overhanging plastic onto the cheese and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Unwrap the torte and invert onto a large plate; discard the plastic. Pat the remaining almonds around the edge of the torte and let return to room temperature. Serve the croutons on the side.