This past year, we had the great privilege of hosting a AFS foreign exchange student in our home. When Liisa first arrived we had no idea what to expect and, I'm sure, neither did she. Transitioning from a small town in Finland to a really, really small town in Montana wasn't easy. There were many things to learn. Liisa proved herself to be extremely adept and finding her way here. She braved horseback riding and AP History and succeeded at both. She ate her first sweet potato and saw her first rodeo. She discovered Pop Rocks. She learned what it was like to have three younger sisters. She dressed up for the prom and Halloween and, along the way, became very much a part of our family.
Last week we sent Liisa home. It wasn't easy! By now she is swimming in cold Finnish waters, eating rye bread sandwiches and renewing friendships. She's come home old enough to drink beer and learn to drive. We hope she brought home as many lovely memories as she left behind. She will always be welcome here. We love and miss her!
This tart was Liisa's favorite. We made a big one together just before she left; I mixed the ingredients and she put them all together. It came out beautifully. I promised then that I would post the recipe so she could make it at home. So, dear Liisa, this one is for you.
This is a great recipe - flexible, easy to make ahead, and very adaptable. You can make it with just about any fruit that's in season and vary the flavorings accordingly. In winter, it's wonderful with plums or apples that have been tossed in a little sugar and cinnamon. This time of year it's all about raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and huckleberries.
The crust is a press-in crust (which means you don't have to roll out the dough) and it can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen before baking. The filling can be made in advance (I make a double batch and store the rest for the next time around) as well so it's a perfect thing for breakfast. Pop the crust in the oven, fill the hot shell when brown and top with the best the fruit basket has to offer. Enjoy.
Liisa's Fruit Tart
For the crust:
Cream 1/2 cup butter with 1/4 cup sugar. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Mix until combined and press into the bottom of a greased 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Watch for thick/thin spots! Bake at 400 for 15 minutes until golden brown.
Meanwhile, mix together:
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (softened), 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the zest of one lemon (or lime or orange - your choice). While you are waiting for the crust to finish, prepare the fruit - slice the apples/apricots/plums or wash the berries.
Remove from the oven and:
Top the hot crust with the filling and carefully arrange the fruit in the filling. I like to fill the tart with raspberries in circles places very close together; as the filling puffs they make a beautiful design.
Bake about 35-40 minutes until the filling is lightly brown. Cool and serve - preferably with a little dollop of freshly whipped cream.