On Food: Otho Spencer cooks up treats at Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream

May 15, 2013 Updated: May 15, 2013 at 8:00 am

Otho Spencer, master baker at Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream, was the headliner at the first in a series of Inspiration Saturdays at Coutura Design Inspirations.

If you haven't been to this collection of home design stores at 6380 Corporate Centre Circle, you've missed out on creative ideas for decorating your home.

The series of demonstrations, offered the first Saturday of each month, are a way to show off what the center has to offer. Spencer's cooking demonstration was held in the complete kitchens showroom, where you can find top-of-the-line cabinets, counter tops, appliances and design ideas.

In one of the beautiful kitchen areas, Spencer whipped up a Tri-Torta with Toasted Crostini.

"It's a dip or spread made with cream cheese and layered with chopped olives, sundried tomatoes and pesto," he said.

Spencer had several tips for making the torta, which turns out to be a great recipe for graduations, wedding receptions or anytime you need a snack for a special occasion.

Here are his tips and a few of my modifications:

- Use a clear 3-cup bowl sprayed with oil and lined with a generous piece of plastic wrap. You can see the layers line up as you build the torta. The plastic wrap allows the torta to slip out of the bowl when you're ready to serve.

- Spencer made his own pesto, a paste of fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. He jazzed it up with Cayenne Chile extra virgin olive oil from Venice Olive Oil Co., 109 N. Tejon St. This is a great store to explore and sample an array of flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

When I made the torta, I used a jar of pesto from King Soopers and added a couple of tablespoons of the Cayenne Chile oil to the mixture. It worked fine and gave the pesto a perky personality.

- Spencer recommended going to Whole Foods Market for the sun-dried tomatoes. You will find them at the olive bar. You also can buy L'esprit De Campagne Sun-Ripened dried tomatoes. I picked a jar with the tomatoes sliced, which made chopping faster.

- For the chopped black olive layer, Spencer sent us to Wal-Mart for its brand of canned olives.

"There's no way I could chop the olives so tiny and uniformly," he said. "And there is hardly any oil in them."

- For the crostini, he used a baguette from La Baguette bakery. The slices of bread were brushed with butter-flavored olive oil from Venice Olive Oil Co.


Tri-Torta with Toasted Crostini


Yield: 3 cups

1 ( 7 ounce) jar basil pesto

2 tablespoons Cayenne Chile olive oil

1 (8 ounce) jar sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 small can chopped black olives

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

3 tablespoons lemon juice


In large mixing bowl, whip cream cheese with lemon juice until smooth and spreadable; set aside. Empty pesto into bowl and stir in chile oil; set aside. Spray a 3-cup clear bowl with cooking oil and line with plastic wrap.

Spread whipped cream cheese across the bottom of the bowl to make a half-inch layer. Next spread pesto on top of cream cheese, then another half-inch layer of cream cheese. Next spread the chopped olives and on top of the olives make another half-inch layer of cream cheese. Then a last layer of sundried tomatoes and top off with cream cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, invert bowl on a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Serve with toasted bread, fresh veggies or crackers.

Source: Otho Spencer

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