Simple shortcut makes spring dessert easy with limited time in the kitchen

Spring activities have certainly kept me and and my gang busy for the last few weeks.

I think we are getting into a groove and finding some pockets of free time in the schedule. It has allowed us a little time in the kitchen, most recently to make some strawberry tarts.

I dont know whether it was from time crunch or laziness, but I resorted to pre-made pie dough. True, it is not as good as homemade, but if it is a matter of springy strawberry dessert or no springy strawberry dessert, I opted for the first. It is also easier to get the kids involved when all you have to do is unroll the dough from its nifty bag and they can get started with the project at hand.

Emma, 11, hulled the strawberries. She is the only one I do not hover over while using a knife. Clay, 7, helped toss them with sugar and cornstarch. Molly, 9, worked on the cream cheese mixture, even though she does not eat cream cheese. It had sugar in it, which made it appealing enough to work with. The mixture was a little thick, so I took a quick turn beating it until it was smooth.

We unrolled the two pieces of pie dough and smeared the center of each disk with sweetened cream cheese, leaving about 2 inches free around the edge. Then, we topped that with a mound of strawberries. The kids enjoyed folding up the edges around the tart, basically making their own crust. The center was left open.

We brushed the exposed dough with egg wash and sprinkled some coarse sugar in top. They baked until brown, about 20 minutes, and smelled great.

When dessert time came around, they were still warm enough to melt the vanilla ice cream we served on top. They were delicious.

Clay, Emma and I devoured ours. Molly, who loves pastry and ice cream, ate hers delicately to avoid the cream cheese part.

If I make these with homemade dough in the future, I will try to make little individual tarts. But for now, this is an easy way to make a pretty, spring dessert. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.

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