REPOST – Since the 4th of July is all about inclusion, I decided to do a ‘mash-up’ of a few of my family’s favorite desserts; sugar cookies, cheese cake, cream pie, and fruit pie.
This simple tart uses a sugar cookie crust, pre-baked and cooled, then it is filled with a luscious lemon infused cheesecake filling and finally it is topped with the fruit of your choice. Use what’s in season, but if you’ve missed the pique, or it’s out of season use frozen or canned if necessary. A nice cool dessert for a night outside under the fireworks.
Have a Happy 4th of July!!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
For the crust:
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups flour
For the cheesecake filling
2-8 oz. pkgs. Cream cheese
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint heavy cream
For the fruit topping
2 – 3 cups of fruit cleaned and slightly sweetened if necessary.
For the crust, cream the room temperature butter, eggs, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with a standing mixer. Add the flour one cup at a time, until thoroughly combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl in between. Using two 9-inch pans, or in my case I used a 9-inch and a 9 x 4 rectangular pan, split the dough and press gently to form the crust, including the sides to hold the filling. Use your fingers to smooth the edges and use the bottom of a measuring cup to smooth the dough into place. Make sure to patch any cracks along the way. Run the tip of your fingers along the bottom crust to check for thicker spots and smooth them out as needed. Chill both pans for at least 20 minutes before baking in a 350 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the crust is firm to the touch and slightly golden brown.
For the cheese cake filling, combine the room temperature cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth. Add the cold whipping cream and beat on high until the entire mixture is light and fluffy, like a mousse (about 2 minutes once you stop seeing lumps). Chill the mixture for 30 minutes then pipe the filling into the cooled crusts in a single layer to start the base.. Cover and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.
Tip #1: If you don’t have a piping bag with tips you can use a plastic storage bag with the tip cut off.
For the fruit topping, you can use fresh or frozen fruit depending on what you have available. I’ve even seen a few tarts where fresh fruit was used with a simple glaze of warmed and strained jam. Creatively decorate your tart for the 4th or in any pattern which strikes your fancy. Chill the tarts again and keep cold until ready to serve.
Makes approximately 16 servings.