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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts

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Ryan’s a fruit dessert lover through and through. Some of his favorite desserts to date are my grandma’s apple pie and last year’s birthday dessert: the lemon tart. I didn’t know if I could beat the lemon tart, it’s the kind of dessert that stands in a class of its own. Instead, I asked him if I could make a fruit tart for his birthday. I was confident he’d like it and it wasn’t so difficult that I’d spent our fun weekend in Chicago stressing over it.

The dessert ended up being easier than I imagined and everyone, Ryan included, seemed to like it more than I had anticipated…I’d call that a win win! Southern Living’s original recipe made 6 four-inch tarts, but I doubled the recipe (and made a little extra filling) to make 12 tarts since Ryan forewarned me he was going to want at least three for himself!

Any fruit would be good on these—berries, bananas, pineapple, whatever floats your boat! My friend Maggie and I used kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, and peaches, which ended up being aesthetically pleasing and gave us the chance to enjoy summer produce while we still could!

The original recipe also called for a shortbread cookie crust but after tasting how good the crust on the No Bake Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake was, I opted for a vanilla sandwich cookie crust, a decision I don’t regret!

Make these when you need an easy dessert that looks impressive, or if you too have a fruit dessert-loving spouse/friend/neighbor that needs a birthday treat!

One Year Ago: Tilapia with Black Bean Salsa (and a rather interesting salsa ingredient!)
Two Years Ago: Mediterranean Skillet

Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts
adapted from Southern Living, June 2010
-20 oz. vanilla sandwich cookies (you'll want about 4 cups of crumbs)
-12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
-16 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used low fat)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-assorted fresh fruit

1. To prepare the crust, preheat the oven to 325F. Pulse cookies in a food processor to get crumbs. Stir together crumbs and melted butter. Press crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of 12 (4-inch) tart pans with removable bottoms. Place on 2 baking sheets.
2. Bake crusts for 9 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer tart pans to a wire rack and allow to cool completely (about 30 minutes).
3. To prepare the filling, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon mixture into crusts, using a knife to smooth evenly. Cover and chill for 1-24 hours.
4. Just before serving (or 1-2 hours before), remove tarts from pans and top with assorted fresh fruit.
*Note: tarts are best eaten the day they're topped with the fruit!