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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
- Wash and slice the fruit (if necessary) laying it on paper towels to soak up excess water.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown, then cool completely.
- 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).
- Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to trim the raised edges (optional, but it makes it easier to spread the frosting).
- At medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, and spread evenly over cooled crust.
- 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.
- Arrange the fruit on top4, keeping with in the guidelines for easy serving.
- 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.
- 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.
1 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.
2 Lower fat (or fat-free) cream cheese will work just fine.
3 This makes enough frosting for a thin coating, so if you like lots of frosting you may want to double it.
4 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.
5 If you’re using very juicy fruit, avoid putting it on more than a couple hours in advance if possible.