I'm feeling so blah. Like melted ice cream on a hot sidewalk, a puddle of muddy rainwater, a blob of hormones and frustrations and exhaustion topped with cabin fever. Blah. Know what I mean? I bet if you live in Iowa right now you do... ;)
Anyway, in an effort to cheer myself up and crawl out from under the blanket of late-winter despondency that seems so prevalent this time of year, I've been making summer fare. Might as well fool my taste buds if I can't fool my wardrobe (yup, that t-shirt a few days ago was not a wise idea). It started with our Liberian Luau at the end of January. Pork brats, potato salad, and pineapple, oh my! Then my dad wowed us all with perfect ribeye steaks on the grill. True, he had to shovel the grill out from underneath four feet (yes, you read that right--four feet) of snow. But he did it! And we rejoiced. Next I found asparagus in the supermarket, and proceeded to dress it with olive oil and sea salt, then broiled it just long enough to make it hot and snappy. Since then I've scoured the produce aisle for hothouse tomatoes and made my famous bruschetta, stocked up on sundae supplies even though hot chocolate seems more appropriate, and--best of all--I slaved over a giant fruit pizza topped with fresh berries, ripe pineapple, and every other amazing-looking fruit I could scrounge up. I even made filigree chocolate decorations to adorn my February work of art. It was amazing, if I do say so myself.
In the hope that a little taste of summer might be just what you need, too, I'm going to share my top-secret, adapted over the course of a decade, eat it 'till you're sick recipe for fruit pizza. Enjoy!
Niki's Fruit Pizza
1 batch homemade sugar cookie dough (you can also use refrigerated Pillsbury sugar cookies if you don't feel like making it from scratch)
a variety of fresh fruit
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1/4 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 small containers raspberry yogurt (or yogurt flavor of your choice)
1/2 container whipped cream (or to taste)
Spread cookie dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or, if you have one, a baking stone) in a large cirle. Make sure the dough is the same thickness from edge to middle. Bake in a 325 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes. Baking time will vary depending on the type of cookie dough you use and how large you make your cookie. Watch the cookie carefully, and remove it from the oven when it is golden brown thoughout. Don't overbake! A chewy cookie is better than a crunchy one for this recipe.
While the cookie is baking, blend softened cream cheese with powedered sugar and vanilla. Set aside. In a separate bowl, stir yogurt with whipped cream. Then carefully clean, dry, and slice fruit. I like to leave my berries whole, and alternate with mandarin oranges, kiwi, or any exotic fruit that is in season. If you have fruit that may spoil, let it soak in orange juice for a few minutes. The citric acid will help even apples retain their nice, white flesh.
When the cookie is cool and transferred to your chosen serving plate, spread with the cream cheese mixture. Top with the yogurt mixture, leaving a half inch of the cream cheese visible along the edge. This pink layer is light and fluffy, the perfect backdrop for your fruit. Now carefully arrange the fruit, paying attention to color and pattern. If done correctly, this dessert is almost too pretty to eat. But trust me, you'll definitely want to eat it. :)
If you're feeling really creative, top your cookie with chocolate filigree. Melt 1/2 - 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl. Pour the melted chocolate into a plastic bag. Cut a very tiny tip off one corner. On a sheet of wax paper, swirl the chocolate into large, lacy patterns. Let it dry completely. When the chocolate is hard, you can carefully remove your artwork. I like to break it into big pieces and stand it up in the center of my fruit pizza. So yummy. And so summery... If only I had the weather to go with my sunshiny dessert...