A step up from a simple tray of sliced cheese with crackers, this layered cheese torta includes smoky bacon and savory pesto layered between a cream cheese-Parmesan blend.
I have seen similar appetizers many times at parties and I always marvel at how pretty and delicious they are.
This is an easy dish to put together, and because it needs a few hours to set in the fridge it is one you can make in advance and have ready to whip out just before your party begins!
Serve this spread with crackers sturdy enough to sink through the layers and come out unbroken (like round wheat crackers, water crackers, and pita chips/pita crackers are also great choices.)
- 8 ounces bacon
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup butter, unsalted, softened
- 1 cup freshly and finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh or store-bought pesto
- Have ready a 6-inch x 6-inch square pan, or a mini loaf pan. Line the pan with plastic wrap that covers all sides and overhangs out of the pan,
Cook the bacon until it is crisp and remove it to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once it is cool enough chop the bacon finely by hand or in a mini chopper to a fine consistency. Set this aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese, butter, and Parmesan cheese until the mixture is smooth and well blended.
- If there is any excess oil or liquid in the pesto you are using, drain this out of the pest using a fine mesh strainer.
- Into the prepared loaf pan sprinkle one tablespoons of the chopped bacon over the bottom and out to the sides of the pan. Take 1 tablespoon of the pesto and add it in small dollops over the bacon in the pan. Take half of the cream cheese mixture and drop it in dollops over the bacon and pesto. Use a spoon or your fingers to spread the cream cheese mixture into an even layer and smooth the top. Put half of the remaining chopped bacon evenly over the cream cheese to the sides of the pan, all of the remaining pesto spread over the bacon and to the sides of the pan. Drop in the remaining cream cheese mixture, spreading it over the pesto out to the sides, and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining bacon over the cream cheese and press it into the cheese. Bring up the overhanging edges of the plastic wrap over the top of the cream cheese to cover it completely. (Use more plastic to cover the top if needed.) Set the pan into the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
When you're ready to serve the cheese, unwrap the plastic from the top of the pan. Invert the formed cheese onto a serving platter and peel away the plastic wrap from the surfaces, revealing the layers of cheese, pesto and bacon. Serve the cheese with sturdy crackers or pita chips.