Sunday, July 31, 2011

Berry Tart

When I tell people what I did yesterday, they say, “You did WHAT now?” Together with two other women, I hosted a baby shower.

This is seemingly a thing about as far removed from my regularly scheduled life as is possible: my house filled with a dozen straight women dressed for a summer party, toting colorfully wrapped packages and ready to talk about babies and children.

Except that the pregnant lady we’re showering is Katrina. She and all her friends, as it turns out, have many things in common. We love books, for one thing (that shower probably had the highest percentage of MFAs at any gathering outside the Loft). We loathe baby shower games; none were planned and no one missed them except to express relief at their absence. And nobody was shy about enjoying a good lunch made of fresh summer produce, or about having a slice of berry tart for dessert.

Berry Tart with Lemon Cream
This dessert is no less delicious for its ease of preparation; you can have the whole thing done in an hour from start to finish. It serves twelve—one slice for every lady at the party plus one more for Katrina to eat later. You know, so the baby can have a piece too.

Half a box of graham crackers (14 sheets)
⅓ c sugar
½ t cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
10 oz (1 ¼ packages) cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 c sugar
2-3 T fresh lemon juice
1/3 c heavy cream
2 pints assorted berries, washed/hulled/pitted/rendered fit to eat
¼ c jelly or preserves

Heat the oven to 350°. Smush up the graham crackers. I sealed mine in a Ziploc bag and steamrolled them with a rolling pin until they were fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon, then drizzle on the melted butter. Stir up well. Dump into a 10 or 11" tart pan with a removable bottom. Press crumbs into the sides of the pan first, then all over the bottom. Pop this into the oven to toast for 10 or 15 minutes, then cool completely.

Meanwhile, put the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl and beat them together. Dump in the heavy cream and blend this until smooth.
While you are waiting for the crust to cool, get the berries ready. Wash them, do any hulling necessary, and dry them off. Finally, prepare the jelly or preserves. If you’re using preserves, put them through a strainer–you only want the goo, not the solids. This is going to be your glaze. Warm it up just enough to melt it.

Now it’s showtime. Spread the lemon cream evenly in the bottom of the cooled crust. Arrange the fruit artfully on top. Ideally, no cream would be showing through; but if you don’t have enough fruit to pull that off, don’t worry about it. Last, brush the jelly glaze over the fruit so everything is shiny.

Chill the tart at least four hours; you should probably eat it by the next day.


  1. I once hosted a wedding shower where, instead of traditional games, we played Twister. That was fun.

  2. Hey, Amy -

    Whoever invented those traditional shower games is probably in hell playing them.


Thanks for your comments - nothing scatological, please. If you wouldn't bring it in the kitchen, please don't say it here.