In the Bender Kitchen: Festive Appetizer you can make ahead of time

(WTNH) –  Holidays are, by definition stressful and we all want everything to be perfect. The key is to plan ahead and to serve dishes that are not only delicious and attractive, but can it be done ahead of time?

Heidi Lang shows the perfect appetizer for any Christmas or New Years Eve Party. The green from the pistachios and red from the pomegranate seeds make this dish both festive and inviting.  The ingredients needed are also easily accessible and even an inexperienced cook can master this recipe in no time at all. It barely involves any cooking. Mostly just assembling, with a very high “wow” factor. And the best part about it? This dish is not only attractive, but the bulk of the work can be done up to 24 hours ahead of the time!





  • 1/3 cup shelled salted pistachios
  • 6 ounces mascarpone cheese room temperature
  • 6 ounces plain goat cheese room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 ounces (about 5-7 slices) prosciutto coarsely chopped*
  • ¼ cup or more pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
  • 1 baguette cut into ¼ inch slices



  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and roast pistachios for five minutes, or until they are slightly brown. Remove and let cool.
  1. Coarsely grind or chop pistachios to ¼ inch pieces. Set aside.
  2. Combine the mascarpone, goat cheese, salt and pepper. Mix until well blended.
  3. Line a 3 to 4-inch bowl with plastic wrap, letting the plastic fold over the sides of the bowl.
  4. Brush the inside of the bowl with a thin layer of olive oil (this is so the torta does not stick to the side of the bowl or the plastic wrap).
  5. Divide cheese mixture in three parts (a scant ½ cup each).
  6. Press down the first part of the mascarpone/goat cheese mixture in bottom of the bowl with the back of an oiled spoon firmly so that it is evenly spread.
  7. Spread the prosciutto on top of the cheese mixture and pack down again.
  8. Spoon the next third of the cheese mixture and once again pack it down firmly.
  9. Sprinkle two thirds of the pistachios on the cheese and gently press the nuts into the cheese.
  10. Add the last remaining goat cheese mixture and once again make sure it is packed firmly.
  11. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but up to a day before you are planning to serve the torta.
  12. When it is time to serve, uncover the top, and pop out the mold (it should be very firm). Place on an attractive serving plate and uncover the plastic.
  13. Sprinkle with the reserved pistachios and pomegranate seeds. Let the torta stand to room temperature (approximately an hour).
  14. Toast baguette slices in the oven at 350 degrees until the bread just begins to be crisp, about 5-10 minutes.
  15. Arrange the bread slices around the torta and serve.



More Information:

The Fig Cooking School, LLC is an exciting gourmet cooking school that teaches home cooks how to prepare fabulous, interesting food without spending hours in the kitchen. Our mission at Fig is to “find your inner gourmet.”  Our classes are taught with only the finest ingredients and feature foods that are seasonal, local and organic often purchased from nearby Connecticut farms. We offer a wide array of classes ranging from basic chicken to more challenging dishes like steak au poivre. Fig also offers a many seasonal farmers market, vegetarian and pescatarian classes for students interested in healthy gourmet meals.  Students may sign up for already existing classes taught in our state-of-the-art kitchen and featured on our website (, or a private class, including team building events.


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