As a competitive swimmer growing up, we used to have "pasta parties" before big meets. (Do kids still do this? Or is carbo-loading not cool anymore?) Whenever we hosted the potluck-style shindig at our house, my mom and I would make fruit pizza for the grand finale. We pressed sugar cookie dough into a pizza pan and, after baking, topped it with cream cheese frosting and a rainbow of fresh fruit.
These days, I like making mini versions for my son and his friends with a vanilla bean-specked frosting and bowls of fresh fruit for DIY decorating. It's a dessert and an art project, all in one.
While this wasn't my original intention, it turns out this edible activity is ideal for dinner parties with kids. Typically the kids finish the meal well before the adults, and sometimes the combination of a fast-approaching bedtime and deviation from routine leads to chaos. However, decorating mini fruit pizzas keeps little hands and mouths occupied while we wrap up our dinner and conversation.
That's not to say adults won't enjoy this treat, too. There's something about a soft baked cookie, tangy frosting, and juicy fruit that hits the spot. If you try it, you just might find yourself having a good time decorating the cookies too!
Mini Fruit Pizzas
For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk, whole or 2%
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
To decorate the cookies:
First, make the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl using a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until incorporated and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk and beat until just combined. Beat in the milk. Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least four hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Use circular cookie cutters or a biscuit cutter with a 3-inch diameter to cut out cookies. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Re-roll the dough to cut additional cookies. Bake until the cookies puff up and just begin to turn golden at the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before decorating.
Make the frosting while the cookies cool: In a large mixing bowl using a paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla bean and extract. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. The frosting can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To serve: Either top the cookies with frosting ahead of time, or set out stacks of cookies and bowls of frosting, along with bowls of cut fruit. Let everyone decorate their own cookies with fruit.
- The cookies and frosting can be made ahead of time. Store the baked cookies in an airtight container and frosting in a lidded container or bowl covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days