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Apple Fromage Blanc Torte
Karen Von Dollen, Sunset Magazine

Serves 12
TIME 2 hours, plus cooling time

Winner, Sunset Fromage Blanc cheese contest for the California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 2010. This torte was created by Sunset reader Karen Von Dollen of Santa Barbara for a family birthday dessert for someone who loves cheese. They happily discovered that it tastes just as good for breakfast!

½ cup             butter, softened and cut in chunks
About 3/4 cup  sugar, divided
1¼ cups          flour
1¼ tsp.           vanilla extract, divided
2 cups            full-fat fromage blanc (about 1 lb.)
2 large            eggs
1 tsp.              lemon zest
1½ tsp.           apple pie spice (or scant 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and ground ginger)
1 tbsp.            lemon juice
3 cups            chopped (1/2 in.) peeled tart-sweet apples such as Fuji

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, whirl butter, 1/4 cup sugar, the flour, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla until dough holds together. Using floured fingers, evenly press dough over bottom and 1 1/2 in. up sides of a 9-in. springform pan that’s about 2 1/2 in. tall.

2. Bake crust until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, make filling: In food processor, pulse fromage blanc, 1/4 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and remaining 1 tsp. vanilla until blended.

3. Combine 1/3 cup sugar with apple pie spice, then lemon juice, in a bowl. Shortly before crust is done prebaking, gently toss apples with sugar mixture.

4. Spread cheese filling in hot crust, using a flexible spatula. Distribute apples over cheese.

5. Set torte on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until filling jiggles only slightly when gently shaken, about 55 minutes.

6. Transfer torte to a cooling rack. Tip pan and spoon off any excess liquid with a small spoon. Let cool completely. To serve, run a thin knife around inside rim of pan to loosen, then remove torte.

Make ahead: Up to 1 day, chilled

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