Fruit pizza typically starts with a sugar cookie crust, although you can substitute phyllo dough or chocolate chip cookie dough for the base. This versatile dessert can easily be made into individual tarts or in a large pan. Once you've assembled all the ingredients, the pizza goes together in about 10 minutes. You can make it ahead, but it's so fast to make that you probably don't need to.
You can prepare fruit pizza ahead of time, but you won't want to make it more than a few hours prior to serving. Make and assemble the fruit pizza no more than four to six hours ahead of time. Cover the dessert with plastic wrap and refrigerate it. If you store it for longer periods, the cookie crust becomes soggy. The fruit becomes mushy, and the frosting might weep.
The ingredients you choose can also influence how far ahead of time you should make a fruit pizza. If you're using canned fruit, such as mandarin oranges, or whole fruits, such as blueberries and blackberries, you can safely assemble the fruit pizza several hours ahead of time. If, on the other hand, you use fresh, sliced fruit, including strawberries or kiwi, you'll want to assemble the fruit pizza no more than two or three hours before serving so the fruit doesn't become damp and mushy. If you use fruit that browns, including apples, pears and peaches, assemble the pizza immediately before serving.
Fruit pizza is an ideal dessert when you're looking for something light, pretty and fast. It's best to assemble it right before serving, but that doesn't mean you can't make the individual parts ahead of time. Bake the cookie crust up to 24 hours in advance. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in a cool, dry location. Whip your frosting -- which might be a cream cheese or whipping cream frosting -- and store it in a covered plastic container in the refrigerator overnight. Cut the fruit at serving time and put the pizza together in a snap.
Fruit pizza's been around since the 1980s, but it's far from passe. Add grated orange zest to the cookie dough crust for extra flavor or spice up the creamy topping with a bit of frozen limeade concentrate, almond extract or lemon flavoring. Opt for a theme when decorating the pizza. Try pineapple, mango and kiwi slices topped with shredded coconut and macadamia nuts for a tropical flair or use only red and blue fruit for the Fourth of July. Drizzle melted apricot or raspberry preserves or white or semi-sweet chocolate over the whole thing.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."