Saturday was my Mom’s birthday, so I offered to make one of her favorite desserts: Lemon Torte. Now that I've looked closer at the box of Jello lemon pudding, I won’t be able to make that again. “Happy Birthday, Mom, enjoy all these rotten preservatives and artificial flavors!”
I actually made both a Lemon Torte and a Chocolate Torte, but for the chocolate I used a box of organic pudding. I’ll show you the differences in ingredients between the box of Jello lemon pudding and the box of organic chocolate pudding. Granted, homemade pudding would be even better, and hopefully someone will share a good recipe with us, but these are what I used this time.
Ingredient list in Jello lemon pudding:
“Sugar, modified food starch, contains less than 2% of natural flavor, disodium phosphate and tetrasodium pyrophosphate (for thickening), mono- and diglycerides (prevent foaming), yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (preservative).”
When you can't pronounce some of the ingredients, that's never a good sign.
Now look at the ingredients in the organic chocolate pudding:
“Organic cane sugar, organic cornstarch, organic cocoa, salt.”
We’ve had this recipe in the family for years, but I’ve made some changes to get rid of some of the junky stuff. It consists of 4 layers of fun: a crust, a cream cheese layer, a pudding layer (you can make whichever flavor you’re feeling like that day – variations below), and a whipped cream layer on top.
Take a look at the recipe and I’ll show you ways I made it a little better, but still not ‘healthy' due to the sugar.
If you’re like me though, and you know you’re going to make something like this now and then to take when you go somewhere, my changes at least get rid of the high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial colors, etc. And with the better ingredients I use, it adds a few healthier nutrients, like part whole wheat flour, crispy nuts, and the healthy fats in the butter, cream cheese, and real cream.
- ¾ c. melted butter (I use organic)
- ½ t. sea salt
- ¾ c. pecans chopped small (even better, use crispy nuts)
- 1 1/2 c. organic flour – Einkorn flour is my favorite nowadays (sprouted flour is good, too, but acts different in recipes usually)
Mix all crust ingredients together and spread into a 9×13 glass or stainless steel baking dish. Bake at 375* for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, start working on the other layers…
Now start working on the different layers:
Start the pudding, using about ½ c. less milk than it calls for, so it’s a bit thicker. If you don’t use the Jello junk (1 or 2 boxes of 3.4 oz. size/instant), then you’ll need to stand there and stir it for 15 minutes or so while it thickens. Yes, it’s a pain, but here's my secret: have your kids help! Give them a stool and let them sit there and stir. (Obviously, only do this if they’re old enough to safely be that close to the stove.) Once it's thick, set it in the frig to set up more until you’re ready to spread this layer on.
Make the whipped cream using 2 cups of cream. (Don't use icky “Cool Whip”.) NOTE: Be sure to read at that post how to make your whipped cream more “stabilized” so it works better in these type of recipes! (However, you'll still want to serve this right away as it won't be AS stabilized as the fake stuff and may get a little runny later.)
Cream Cheese layer – mix together:
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- ¾ c. organic powdered sugar (Anybody? Ideas for healthier alternative please? Or just shut your eyes and pour the stuff in and enjoy every stinking bite like I do.)
- ½ c. of your whipped cream (above)
When your crust is cool, start layering:
- Cream cheese layer on top of the crust
- Pudding layer
- Whipped cream on top
- Garnish with whatever might go with your flavor of pudding: more crispy pecans, shaved chocolate, organic chocolate syrup drizzled around the top, bits of lemon zest, mini chocolate chips – things like the nuts and chocolate chips are nice if you’re taking it somewhere, so you can put a little Press & Seal on top without it getting onto the whipped cream.
- You could use vanilla pudding, then shave some chocolate on the top.
- Or squirt a little organic chocolate syrup on the cream cheese layer, use vanilla pudding, and more organic chocolate syrup to make a little design with it on top.
- For Turtle Torte: on the cream cheese layer drizzle some caramel (this post has a simple caramel recipe or here's another caramel recipe), use chocolate pudding, then add crispy pecans on top of the whipped cream layer.
- Caramel Torte: Same as the Turtle Torte only use vanilla pudding.
- Chocolate/Peanut butter torte – chocolate pudding, along with a PB layer, made with a mixture of 1 cup PB, 1/4 cup butter, and 2/3 cup organic powdered sugar.
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Chocolate torte photo by rochelle