Cinnamon Rolls

Has winter hit your neck of the woods? It definitely hit Montana and it’s snowy and beautiful outside. I don’t know about you, but cold weather always instills a craving for cozy foods like soup and pot roast, hot chocolate and gingersnaps, oatmeal or waffles.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

Although working with yeast is rare for me, a few weeks ago I decided to make a batch of cinnamon rolls from scratch. Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite decadent treats, and it’s a good thing they are such a time-consuming endeavor or I’d probably make them a lot more often. I am very particular about cinnamon rolls, and don’t often even buy them for this reason. They must be soft both inside and out, heavy on the cinnamon and light on the frosting; a thin glaze is even better. I am not one for heavy frosting on much of anything, but I absolutely feel a quality cinnamon roll doesn’t need to hide beneath cream cheese and butter.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

A few years ago when my parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, my mom and I made this cinnamon roll recipe. It’s everything a cinnamon roll should be, with the light flavoring of oatmeal which I find to be a wonderful addition. Like most yeast recipes, this one takes a few hours from start to finish, although most of that is waiting around for the dough to rise.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

Nonetheless they result in pillowy rolls perfect for a cozy winter morning. Full of cinnamon and drizzled with a light glaze, they feel a little lighter than your average out-of-the-can variety, and the gentle oatmeal flavor is unique but delicious. Served with some savory options like scrambled eggs or sausage, these would be perfect for Christmas breakfast to treat the family this year.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

If you’re appalled at the idea of waking up *even earlier* Christmas morning just to make cinnamon rolls, never fear. I am definitely not suggesting you make a hectic morning even more so, but encouraging you to make these ahead for a simple breakfast that can bake while you open presents.

Since it’s rare that I have a need for 12 large cinnamon rolls, I opted instead to cut my batch into 18 slightly smaller ones. I baked one set right away (because, yum) and put the remainder in the freezer. A couple of weeks later, I pulled them out, shoved them into a pan (with some difficulty; more on that later), and after letting them rise overnight, baked them up fresh in the morning with no more work than preheating the oven. All the delight with little of the work.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

You could make these up anytime between now and Christmas and pop them in the freezer until you’re ready for them, which is great for anyone that feels the holidays get even more hectic as the actual day draws near. If you go the freezer route, I highly recommend using disposable pans and freezing the rolls in the pan. Although it’ll take a little bit more space in your freezer, it means less work once you’re ready to bake them. In their frozen state I had quite the time getting them squeezed into a pan, and this effort can be easily avoided by just freezing them that way. If, like me, you try to avoid using disposable things when possible, or just always forget to buy them, you can line the pan you’d normally use with plastic wrap, place your rolls inside, and freeze the whole thing till the rolls are hard. Then you can remove them from the pan, wrap tightly in the plastic and put in a Ziploc, and still have your dish available for using.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

Splitting the batch into two pans of nine not only gives you a freezer batch ready for another day, but also results in slightly smaller rolls that are great for portion control or to be served alongside heartier additions. The next time you’re feeling up to a little kitchen challenge, make these rolls. I’m sure you and your family will love them. If you have leftovers, store them covered on the counter. The rolls are great reheated in the microwave for about 20 seconds, just enough to warm them up.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Roll

Adapted from SparkRecipes
Makes 12 or 18 rolls

Ingredients

Dough
1 packet yeast
1 cup warm water, 105 – 115 degrees

1 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
3/4 tsp salt

3-4 cups white bread flour
1 cup whole wheat bread flour (or wheat all-purpose)
1 cup old-fashioned oats, ground fine in a blender

Filling
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk

Directions

  1. Run the bowl of your stand mixer under hot water for one minute, or until the bowl feels warm.
  2. Add yeast to the bowl then gently pour in the warm water to dissolve. Let rest 10 minutes, or until foamed.
  3. Stir in milk, butter, sugar, egg, and salt (I do this by hand).
  4. Add wheat flour, oatmeal flour, and 3 cups of bread flour to the bowl. Using the dough hook, mix until well incorporated.
  5. If necessary, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It will still be sticky. (I used a total of 3.75 cups of bread flour.)
  6. Cover bowl and let rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.1 
  7. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
  8. Butter or spray one 9×13″ pan (for 12 large rolls) or two 8×8″ pans (for 18 medium rolls). Set aside.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  10. On a floured surface, roll the dough into an 18×15″ rectangle. (I sometimes make mine slightly wider than 18″ so I can cut off the ends for more even rolls, but it’s not necessary.)
  11. Brush dough with melted butter, leaving one inch of a long edge clear.
  12. Spread sugar mixture evenly over the butter.
  13. As tightly as you can, roll up the long side so you end up with an 18″ cylinder.
  14. Reshape if necessary, then use unflavored dental floss or a very sharp knife to cut into 12 or 18 slices, then place in your pans. (Freezer option: see notes2)
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the center is 190 degrees Fahrenheit. (I highly recommend using an instant read thermometer for this!) If necessary, cover outer rolls with foil for the last 5 minutes, or until center rolls are done, to prevent excessive browning.
  16. Whisk together sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth, then drizzle over hot rolls. Serve warm!

Notes

My favorite method for getting dough to rise consistently: Microwave a mug of water for 2.5 minutes. Move the mug to the corner of the microwave, add your bowl or pan of dough, shut the door, and let rise as usual. This keeps the dough warm and humid even if the rest of your house is cold or drafty. If you do this for both stages of rising, use new water each time to avoid super-heating it and having it explode.

Freezer option: Cut log into 18 slices. Either place 9 each into greased 8×8″ disposable pans (recommended) or set them onto a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place into a Ziploc bag.
To bake: Remove rolls from freezer and unwrap completely. Place into a greased pan if they aren’t already, then cover with a thin dish towel and let rise overnight (at least 8 hours). Bake until center reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit, about 30 minutes. You may need to cover the rolls for the last 10 minutes to prevent over-browning while the center cooks through.

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Perfect Pumpkin Pie

For years and years I’ve used the pumpkin pie recipe found on the Libby’s cans of pumpkin puree. It always turned out consistently delicious so I never really thought to try another recipe.

This was a mistake.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Last year my mom linked me this recipe and was like “make this immediately and ditch the usual recipe.” She was quite right! This pumpkin pie is amazingly dense, superbly flavorful, and has zero of that occasionally slightly watery texture I sometimes noticed with the Libby recipe. I don’t often use qualifiers like “best” or “perfect” in my recipes, but trust me when I say Sally definitely figured this one out.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Deliciously creamy and superbly spiced, this is sure to be your new favorite pumpkin pie recipe and a go-to staple for the upcoming holidays. M is not much of a pumpkin fan, so I’m looking forward to having this whole pie to myself over the upcoming holiday weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll make him a pie he can enjoy too; I’m not a complete monster.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a rich pie but very smooth, and goes best with homemade whipped cream and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. I like my pumpkin pie cold, but it was also excellent at room temperature if that is your preference. Like every pumpkin pie, it works just as well for breakfast as it does for dessert, and I’m sure after your first piece you’ll already be planning your second.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

It does require some overnight chilling, so make sure you plan your Thanksgiving preparations accordingly. This pie could easily be started Tuesday and finished Wednesday, leaving Thursday free for the items that can’t be made ahead. As long as you have fridge space (or a cold garage) you are good to go. I will say that if you are planning to add the pie crust cutouts (which are super easy and really fun), you should wait until just before serving to do so in order to avoid sogginess.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Try out your new favorite pumpkin pie recipe this year, and don’t forget to thank Sally.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes one deep-dish pie

Ingredients

pastry for a double-crust pie (see below)

15 oz pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar (light works great too)

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
dash of ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. The night before: in a large bowl whisk pumpkin, eggs, and brown sugar until completely combined. Add cornstarch, salt, spices, cream, and milk, and whisk until combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next day: if you haven’t already, prepare your favorite pie dough, or use the recipe linked above. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Roll out slightly more than half the dough and gently place into your pie plate. Trim edges to about 1″ then fold over and crimp as desired. Optionally, sprinkle edges of pie crust with cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Briefly whisk filling then pour carefully into the prepared pie plate. If you have extra filling, you can bake it separately in a glass dish (no crust necessary) next to the pie.
  5. Optional: With remaining pie dough, roll out to about 1/8″ thick (or slightly thicker) and cut leaves or other designs. Place on a lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  6. Bake leaves for about 20 minutes, they should be golden in color. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. Bake pie for one hour. Pie should still be jiggly in the middle but look solid otherwise. To avoid cracking, turn off the oven and open the door but leave the pie in there while it cools down a little. Once it has settled (hopefully without cracks), move it to the counter to cool completely, at least four hours. I prefer pumpkin pie cold, so I placed mine in the fridge after two hours.
  8. Just before serving, decorate with pie crust shapes. (Eat any extra shapes, or serve them in a small bowl next to the pie). Top slices with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Refrigerate leftovers.

No-Fail Pie Crust

Makes 2 deep-dish pie crusts

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp shortening
5-7 Tbsp ice water

Directions

  1. Measure shortening into a small bowl and place in freezer for 15-20 minutes. Pour water and a few ice cubes into a bowl or cup and set aside. (I typically pour 8 oz of water and then use what I need.)
  2. Mix flour and salt in a larger bowl. Using a pastry blender (or two table knives), cut in the chilled shortening until the pieces are pea-sized.
  3. One tablespoon at a time, add water into mixture and gently mix with your pastry blender (or knives). Repeat until all is moistened and the dough will stick together as one ball, about 6 tablespoons. Divide dough in half and gently roll each half into a ball.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, gently flatten one ball of dough into a disc. Gently roll into a circle large enough for your pie plate. Transfer dough to pie plate, and trim to a half-inch larger than the rim. Fold pastry under itself and crimp, if desired.
  5. Roll out second ball of dough for a second pie, or cut into strips or decorations as desired.

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode

Ah, October. While most think of Halloween all month long, I focus on race season. Every weekend except one is taken up by a race, with this past weekend being the sole half marathon and taking place in Dallas. Unfortunately it was crazy hot and I missed my goal time by several minutes, but I did get third place in my age group and an award to boot!

I’m now in Houston and kicked off the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing which I’m superbly psyched to be attending. I do miss Bozeman’s October weather, but a whirlwind weekend with my favorite aunt for running and eating and Six Flags, followed by the inspiration of being around so many women in tech fields (plus my first time in Texas), is definitely worth skipping a few properly autumnal days.

Mini Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode {{Baking Bytes}}

Even with my disinclination towards Halloween, it does make for a great excuse to bake overly decadent treats that have no real justification. Although I’m still working on losing a few pounds and ergo drastically limiting my sugar intake, these tortes a la mode I made for my anniversary with M last Valentine’s Day are even more appropriate for the current holiday season.

Mini Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe created a full-size dessert, but I felt a mini version was the right choice for me. Already portioned, pretty for pictures, and simpler to tote around. As a bonus, it’s also easier to give away the extras to my unsuspecting coworkers. I have included the instructions for the miniature ones, but for the full-size option simply double the recipe and use two 8″ cake pans.

Intensely chocolatey and riddled with peanut butter flavor, these tortes are drizzled with more of both because, well, why not? Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to round out the experience, it’s an immensely rich dessert and high in presentation points.

Mini Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode {{Baking Bytes}}

Fudgy chocolate cake interspersed with chopped Reese’s, the tortes on their own are a wonderful treat, made extra decadent by sandwiching a spread of peanut butter, and drizzled with a peanut butter glaze and chocolate sauce. Smooth vanilla ice cream tones down the decadence just a tad, and makes for a lovely creamy and fudgy juxtaposition. (The sauces also make great ice cream toppings on their own.)

Mini Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode {{Baking Bytes}}

For an extravagant dessert experience bring out the big guns and make these layered tortes a la mode as directed below. For maybe a slightly more tame dessert endeavor, just top each mini torte with a little peanut butter glaze and chocolate sauce, and call it a day. Whichever route you take, or perhaps a hybrid of the two, your peanut butter chocolate lovers are sure to be thrilled.

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode

Adapted from My Baking Addiction
Makes 6 or 12 servings

Ingredients

Cake
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup sugar
2 eggs

1.5 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt

5 Reese’s cups, chopped

Filling
peanut butter, heated if necessary for spreading

Glaze
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 – 4 Tbsp heavy cream

2 Tbsp prepared chocolate sauce

vanilla ice cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberally coat a mini cheesecake pan with cooking spray. (A muffin tin will also work.) If you’re using anything besides silicon or mini springform pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk melted butter and cocoa powder until completely combined.
  3. Stir in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition (use a spatula).
  4. Repeat with eggs, 1 at a time.
  5. Add vanilla, flour, and salt, and stir until there are no streaks of flour.
  6. Fold in chopped Reese’s.
  7. Divide batter evenly between mini cheesecake (or muffin) wells, about 3 Tbsp each.
  8. Bake 18-25 minutes, until tops are matte and a toothpick comes out mostly clean, similar to brownies.
  9. Let cool completely.
  10. Run a knife around the edges of your pans and remove all cakes.
  11. Spread peanut butter on half of the cakes (I used about 1 tsp each), then top with another cake. Transfer to a platter, cake plate, or individual plates (or whatever you plan to serve from). Alternatively, for 12 smaller servings you can carefully cut each cake in half, spread peanut butter on the bottoms, and replace the tops.
  12. Whisk together additional peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 Tbsp heavy cream until smooth. If you want a thinner glaze, add additional heavy cream in small amounts at a time until desired consistency is reached. (If you are making 12 servings and want ample glaze, you may want to double the amounts.)
  13. Carefully top each mini cake with 1-2 tablespoons of glaze, letting it drip slightly down the sides.
  14. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips or chocolate sauce.
  15. Just before serving, top each stack with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  16. Enjoy!

Notes

I recommend you use a sweeter peanut butter like Jif or Skippy which probably doesn’t need to be heated, but if you insist on using a natural peanut butter it might need to be warmed a little in order for it to be easily spreadable.

I used homemade chocolate sauce I already had on hand; Hershey’s or similar would work great, or melted chocolate chips are always a good option. If you are concerned with presentation, I recommend putting the chocolate sauce in a piping bag and cutting off a very small tip so you have good control over your drizzle.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

With summer coming to a close tomorrow, perhaps your garden is overflowing with things to use or store. Although we only have a small garden, I did get an excitingly abundant harvest given its size. The raspberries were proliferous for several weeks (some are in the freezer to bake with this winter), green beans galore, a few delicious broccoli heads, a decent amount of potatoes, giant zucchini (hopefully still some more in the coming weeks), and for the first time ever, carrots!

This is the third year in a row I’ve tried growing fingerling carrots, and the first year they grew bigger than my baby thumbnails. Planting them on the very edge so they weren’t overgrown by the beans seemed to be the key, and I’m excited to eat them. I planted two rows so likely will chop some up for the freezer. Roasted vegetables are my favorite and I’m sure we’ll be eating many panfuls in the coming weeks.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

My zucchini plant was not as abundant as some, likely due to the lack of sunlight my garden gets, but it still produced quite a few and there should be some more to pick if the weather doesn’t turn super cold right away. If, like many people, you have more zucchini than you know what to do with, then this is definitely the recipe for you.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

I see recipes for zucchini bread, muffins, scones, pancakes, waffles, etc, all over the place, but many of them are heavy on the sugar and chocolate. Although this is delicious, it somewhat ruins the health factor of the zucchini if you’re basically eating dessert bread.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

I recently came across this recipe on Pinterest (as usual) and loved that the chocolate was only in chip form, and the sugar content relatively low. I made some modifications like I always do, and it resulted in a very tasty but much less sweet variation.The zucchini flavor is mild but the bread is warm and inviting with cinnamon and nutmeg throughout. It’s sweetened with honey and a few chocolate chips, but maintains a much less decadent flavoring than your typical sugary quickbreads. You can obviously increase the chocolate chips if you want, but I felt this amount was plenty. Even with 30% less sugar than the original recipe, it still functions just as well as a dessert as it does for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

Krista’s recipe called for walnuts, but I never put nuts in baked goods as I don’t care for the textural juxtaposition of soft bread and crunchy nuts if I’m not emotionally prepared for it. However, this time I chopped a few walnuts and sprinkled them on top, and it was a wonderful, crunchy addition to the bread. It’s a method I may use in the future for banana or pumpkin bread to give it a little something extra. If you don’t like walnuts, pecans or sliced almonds would work great too, or you can leave them off entirely, of course.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Adapted from Joyful Healthy Eats
Makes 1 loaf (12 slices)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/3 cup raw honey
1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cup grated zucchini
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp chocolate chips, divided

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease (butter, coconut oil, PAM, whatever) and flour a loaf pan, shaking out excess flour. Set aside.
  2. If you haven’t already, use a cloth or paper towels to squeeze as much excess water from your zucchini as possible. Get your upper body workout here, if your zucchini is drier your bread is less likely to have wet spots in the middle. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  4. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, combine honey and coconut oil. If they are not already liquid, heat 20-30 seconds and whisk until smooth. It’s okay if there are some small bits of coconut oil still solid.
  5. Add applesauce, egg, and vanilla, and whisk until completely combined.
  6. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring (I used a rubbed scraper) until completely combined.
  7. Fold in zucchini and 1/3 cup chocolate chips, then pour into prepared loaf pan.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.
  9. Bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool most of the way in baking pan, then run a knife along the edge and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, or slice and serve pronto because it smells way too delicious to wait.
  11. Store completely cooled leftovers in an airtight container on the counter.

Cookie Fruit Pizza

Just in case you still need an a quick and easy dessert for any Labor Day Weekend festivities, I am posting this a week early. Although I generally avoid mixes and pre-made desserts, everyone needs a couple quick go-to recipes for those impromptu barbecues and summer parties. Usually I make brownies because the Ghirardelli mixes are fantastic, but when I want to bring a lighter or non-chocolate dessert and don’t have the time for cupcakes or lemon pie spoons, I’ll tend towards fruit pizza or (peanut butter Cheerio treats). Made with a store-bought cookie dough, the longest step is preparing the fruit. It can be put together in less than an hour, assuming you have all the ingredients, and is a great crowd pleaser.

Cookie Fruit Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

Although any fruit can be used, my favorite options are strawberries, kiwis, raspberries and blueberries. The first two can be sliced easily whereas the latter two options require no cutting. I usually opt for a combination of fruits as it’s both delicious and prettier. In general I just use what I have on hand or what looked good at the store, which this time happened to be kiwi, blueberries, and mandarins. You really can’t go wrong other as long as you are careful to either not choose fruit that browns quickly, or to serve everything promptly. Think of the pizzas as your palette and choose whatever flavor combinations you like best.

Cookie Fruit Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

I did all mine the same, but you can certainly do each slice differently if you don’t have enough of a fruit, or just to allow people to pick their flavors. Since the cookies are pre-sliced, it’s easy to lay out each one identically or differently, and they’ll be ready to serve right away. Clearly you could also use a pizza pan for the normal round shape and slice into wedges, but I find the squares are easier to handle, less inclined to break, and just as pretty.

Despite most fruit pizzas being topped with some kind of glaze over the fruit, I never add one. The cookies and cream cheese frosting are already plenty sweet and the fresh fruit really shines if it isn’t drenched in extra sugar and fruit juice. It also saves an extra several minutes of prep time which is great since this is supposed to be a quick dessert.

Cookie Fruit Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

Although I kept it simple this time, another delicious option is to add a spice to your cream cheese frosting. I keep it relatively low sugar since the cookies have plenty on their own, but the addition of some cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, chipotle, or whatever you think would blend with your fruit selection would be an awesome way to add a little pizzazz. Start with 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon and then add more as necessary.

Cookie Fruit Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

And if you’re not pressed for time, you can absolutely substitute your own sugar cookie recipe!

Cookie Fruit Pizza

Adapted from Pillsbury’s Fanciful Fruit Pizza
Makes 12 servings (1 quarter-sheet pan)

Ingredients

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® Create ‘n Bake® refrigerated sugar cookies (or about 2 cups of your own recipe)1

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature2,3 
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, peaches, etc)

Directions

  1. Wash and slice the fruit (if necessary) laying it on paper towels to soak up excess water.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spray the edges of a quarter or half cookie sheet (ideally one with a lip) with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overhang the long edges of the pan.
  4. Press dough evenly in the bottom of the pan (if you’re using a normal-sized cookie sheet, it will only fill half the pan), use a rolling pin to smooth at the end.
  5. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown, then cool completely.
  6. Run a butter knife along the edges of the pan, then use the parchment paper to gently lift the whole batch out onto a cutting board (or the counter).
  7. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to trim the raised edges (optional, but it makes it easier to spread the frosting).
  8. At medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, and spread evenly over cooled crust.
  9. Using a knife or plastic pizza cutter, cut the crust into 8-12 servings3, or whatever size you want. If your pan is lipped, make sure you specifically cut the edges as a pizza cutter won’t reach there.
  10. Arrange the fruit on top4, keeping with in the guidelines for easy serving.
  11. Pro tip: use the parchment paper to move the cookies all at once back to your pan or your serving platter, then cut the extra paper away so it doesn’t show.
  12. Fruit pizza is just fine on the counter for a few hours, but cover and refrigerate leftovers overnight. The cookies are best on day one as they will get much softer in the fridge. For a make-ahead option, bake the cookies and leave them on the counter, make the frosting and store it in the fridge, slice and drain the fruits and store them in the fridge, then assemble the next day.

Notes

This is enough to fill a quarter-sheet pan. I love having this size around and am actually thinking I’d like to have two. If you only have half-sheet pans (normal size), then just press the dough into half of the pan, or double the recipe to make 24 servings.
Lower fat (or fat-free) cream cheese will work just fine.
This makes enough frosting for a thin coating, so if you like lots of frosting you may want to double it.
You don’t have to pre-cut the sections (say, if you want to make an American flag pattern) but it makes it much easier and less messy to serve and eat later.
If you’re using very juicy fruit, avoid putting it on more than a couple hours in advance if possible.