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A Berry Patriotic Dessert

There’s nothing like a birthday to create a celebration. And when our nation becomes another year older it’s no exception. The grills light up, the fireworks blast off brilliantly against the night sky and the entire country celebrates. Today is the day we shout out a big old Happy Birthday to America and, just like with any other birthday celebration, you must end it on a very sweet note!

This patriotic fruit tart is not only the perfect colors for today’s festivities. It also is scrumptiously delicious. It looks like you slaved for hours and hours in the kitchen, when in reality it only takes a few minutes to create this red, white and blue dessert. (You don’t have to tell that to anyone. We’ll keep it between you and me.)

The original recipe for this tart was called Fruit Pizza in my first cookbook, Blossoms and Bees; Peaches and Pound Cakes. It is certainly a cute enough name but, in my opinion, it can be much more elegant than a pizza. By using your imagination and tweaking the recipe a little, you can turn an ordinary dessert into a sweet and festive ending to your Fourth of July gathering.

It requires very few ingredients and you may have many of them already. The base of the tart is actually a large cookie. No need to make this complicated. All you need is some refrigerated sugar cookie dough. Cut it into pieces and pat it evenly into any shaped baking sheet you like. I use a 9-inch round cake pan. A piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan makes for easier removal. Bake until golden brown at 350 degrees. Allow it to cool completely.

While it is cooling, mix together the cream cheese and other ingredients to make the creamy layer of this dessert. If you are like me and love sweets, you may want to add a tad more sugar. Just let your taste buds be your guide. I have also found that I prefer to use confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated. You may even want to make a little extra of the creamy layer. I always do! Flavor it with whatever extracts you like. I used a combination of almond and vanilla.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled cookie crust allowing a little bit of the cookie’s edge to show. Choose some of your favorite fruits with which to top the tart. Since today is the Fourth of July, I decided to work with fruits that are in the red and blue color families but any kind of fruit will suffice. Just make sure you have enough to adequately color the top of your tart. Don’t forget to be creative. Slice the pieces of fruit into interesting shapes and use those pieces to form eye-pleasing patterns on the top of your tart.

Having done that, you are ready to make the simple glaze for your sweet concoction. It is orange marmalade thinned down slightly with some warm water. Drizzle it across the top of your tart being sure to cover any sliced bananas you may have used to keep them from turning brown. Finish off with some piped on whipped cream dollops for that professional chef look!

Now, have I made your mouth water yet? Don’t worry. You still have plenty of time to whip up one of these colorful tarts in celebration of our nation’s birthday. Just think what kind of compliments you will receive when you waltz into your party carrying your beautiful and tasty creation. Happy Fourth of July!

Recipe: Fruit Tart

18-oz. pkg. refrigerated sugar, slice and bake cookies
8-oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/3 to 1 cup sugar (I prefer confectioner’s sugar)
1/2tsp. vanilla flavoring
1/2tsp. almond flavoring
Assorted fruits
1/2c. Kraft pure orange marmalade
2 T. warm water

Cut cookie dough into slices 1/8-inch thick. Line a 14-inch pizza pan with cookie slices, pressing together to form one large crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar and extracts, mixing until well blended. Spread mixture over cookie crust. Arrange fruit over cream cheese layer. Glaze with combined marmalade and water. Chill. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes 10 to12 servings.