Kitchen Table: Herb-Hip Puree Torte

Serves 8 to 10

The flavor of rose hips is enhanced by the spiciness of scented basils and the natural sweetness of sweet cicely. The Herb-Hip Puree freezes well and makes a fine substitute for canned pumpkin in cookie, muffin, cake, and other recipes.


• 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 24 crackers)
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
• 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Press the mixture evenly on the bottom and about 13/4 inches up the sides of a buttered 9-inch springform pan.

Bake at 350°F about 5 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Puree Filling

• 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
• 2 envelopes (2 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
• 1 cup milk
• 2 eggs, separated, yolks beaten
• 1 3/4 cups Herb-Hip Puree (below)
• 1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and gelatin in a medium saucepan and stir well to blend. Add the milk and the beaten egg yolks and mix well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes, or until the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Herb-Hip Puree and blend well.

Refrigerate the pan about 30 minutes, or until the mixture has begun to set.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup sugar gradually and continue to beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Fold the egg whites, then the whipped cream, into the cooled herb-hip mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the cooled crust. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours, or until the filling is firm.

Herb-Hip Puree

• 4-5 cups fully ripe rose hips
• 1 cup apple juice
• Water
• 2 sprigs sweet cicely
• 1-2 sprigs cinnamon basil
• 2-3 sprigs lemon basil

Remove the stalks and blossom ends from the rose hips. Rinse the hips in cold water, then place them in a large saucepan with the apple juice and enough water to almost cover. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Press the softened hips through a sieve or food mill and reserve the puree. Return the pulp remaining in the sieve to the pan and add enough water to almost cover. Heat but do not boil this mixture. Press it through the sieve again and add the puree to the reserved puree; discard the remaining pulp.

Tie the sprigs of sweet cicely, cin­namon basil, and lemon basil together with kitchen twine. Place the bundle in the saucepan with the rose-hip puree and cook the mixture until it is very thick (about the consistency of “slow” catsup). Cool. Discard the herb ­bundle.

–Barbara Fay, Fairbanks, Alaska

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