Difficulty: Easyish --just because the recipe is long doesn't mean it's hard!
In the summer of 1993 someone brought a fresh fruit tart with a cookie crust and a cream cheese filling to a party I attended and a near riot broke out. It came from "The Farm" bakery in Aptos and it was a brand new concept to all of us. Still popular in 20013...it kind of reminds me of a fruit pizza!
Using fresh fruit like strawberries, kiwi, seedless grapes, nectarines and blackberries placed artistically in concentric rings makes this a gorgeous dessert. The only thing I don't like is that when people eat this you can hear them chewing seeds. It's the kiwi and strawberry seeds! Aaaaaaah! If you're warped like me...you can leave the kiwi out, they're the worst, but I wouldn't leave out the strawberries. They just taste too darn good. Just wear earplugs or something. Once I actually peeled strawberries for a man I loved because he couldn't stand seeds. Now that was crazy! Stick with me schweetheart, and you'll have all kinds of psychological problems! This started out with Paula Deen's recipe for "Fresh Fruit Tart"which I combined with another recipe. Yield: a 12" tart -- Serves 8-10
Note: If you make the crust and the filling one day and fill it with fruit the next, the crust will stay crisp and the flavors will meld. If you make it and eat it all the same day --that works too. It's showy and as easy, as well... pie!
1/2 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C butter, softened and sliced (if you don't want to make crust you can always use Pillsbury Sugar Cookie refrigerated dough-- this homemade version, however, is more like shortbread and is less sweet)
1 (8-oz) pkg. cream cheese--softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar (if you like things super-sweet use 1/2 C)
1 t vanilla extract
Fresh Fruit Topping:
(use 3 C or more of any combination of those listed below--be free to be artistic!)
Strawberries (cut in half or quarters--looks pretty as a "star" in the center of the tart)
Peaches or nectarines (sliced thinly)
Seedless grapes (slice in half and lay sliced part down for easy eating)
Red pears (sliced thinly)
Kiwi (sliced thinly--you can overlap these when you lay them on the crust--artsy)
Star Fruit (sliced thinly--best used on top of another fruit like bluebeirries or in the middle of the tart)
Exception to fresh: canned mandarin oranges--super easy--no slicing!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine the dry ingredients and butter in a food processor and process until it forms a ball . If it won't form a ball your butter wasn't soft enough--keep processing. Lacking a food processor, use two forks to keep cutting the butter into the flour mix until you have a dough texture. Press dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removeable bottom. If you (or the kids)eat any of the dough you may have to use a 10-incher. Be sure and push the dough flat and squish it into the side indentations of the pan. This takes a little muscle. You may have to enlist a passing male to help. Put pie weights or dried beans in the unbaked crust to discourage shrinkage and pop in the oven for 10-18 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and cool.
Mix filling ingredients together in a small bowl with a mixer and spread thickly on cooled crust. Pat dry washed fruit and apply to cream cheese layer in concertric circles starting with the middle and working outward. Make fruit glaze...
1/2 C fruit juice ( apple, peach, pineapple)
1/4 C sugar
1 T cornstarch (mix with a T of water before adding)
OR: warm up some honey or melt some apricot jam in a small sauce pan to use for glaze
Combine fruit glaze ingredients in a saucepan and heat to a simmer. Simmer until thick and remove from heat. Cool slightly before brushing on to fruit. Did your cat eat up your pastry brush? In a pinch...use a scrape of paper towel to brush on the glaze. Hey...stuff happens! I refuse to run to the store for one item. Be creative.