Last week I hosted a brunch, invited a few friends to join me, and made this Cream Cheese Fruit Tart with Almond Crust for the occasion. I am better, life is better, when I’ve had time with good friends around my table—it is pure joy.
It wasn’t always that way. At one point in my life I was more focused on entertaining than being hospitable, making sure everything was … perfect. (I cringe just thinking about what I put myself and my family through.)
Remember the scene in the movie Gladiator when Russell Crowe slayed multiple opponents and yells this to the crowd?
“Are you not entertained!”
“Are you not entertained!”
The sword could just as easily be a dirty pan being flung across the kitchen at midnight, wondering if the 15 hours spent to make that dinner party happen was even worth it …
Been there? I have. When we feel this way, I think it is because we confuse hospitality with entertaining. The heart and motivation behind them is different, though they sometimes exist in the same space. The way I see it, hospitality is welcoming and warmly facilitating, entertaining is performing—they are synonyms, but they are not the same. The recipes and practical advice in this series will focus on the life-giving spirit of hospitality and leave behind the pressure to please through performance.
We will cover topics like invitations (who to invite), what to serve (more recipes), making your space work (dealing with limited space), exploring the ‘why bother?’ (no joy), and how to use what you already have. I’ll throw in some ideas on large groups (800 is my top set limit) and intimate evenings (this is certain to gross-out my kids), just to keep it interesting. 😉
Now let’s be real. I’m not claiming to be an expert on the matter, but I have survived both ends of the love-hate spectrum of having people over and settled on the side of loving it. This not only took practical experience, it took an attitude adjustment as well. I hope you find this series tasty, helpful, and encouraging.
I do hope you’ll join the conversation in the comments too—offering words of wisdom or posing questions.
Now back to my brunch of friends and this delightful Cream Cheese Fruit Tart with Almond Crust. Several friends were avoiding wheat or grains, so I was on the hunt for a special treat everyone could enjoy. Oh, boy did we! Luscious cream cheese filling spread over an almond crust, topped with fresh fruit and a tangy citrus glaze. It was the favorite of the brunch—thankfully I made two, so the fam was pretty happy to see some left when they got home. No one was allergic to nuts, so the almond crust was perfect. I have found among gluten-free flours, almond flour is the most tender in baked goods, without the grittiness of rice flours. I was very pleased with how it performed here; the crust is tender, not as dense as pastry or shortbread type crusts.
Of course, you can use a favorite pastry crust or try one of these versions of tart crusts: Easy Tart Crust at Epicurious, Shortbread Tart Crust at Dianas Desserts, or a Gingersnap Cookie Crust by Amy Tobin.
Sweetened only with enough honey to accentuate the fresh fruit, this tart isn’t so sweet you’ll regret eating it before lunch, yet also makes a light, refreshing dessert. The components can all be made in advance and then assembled when needed—I made mine the night before the brunch so there was less to do that morning. The fruit topping is what makes the tart so beautiful, as well as its glistening glaze. Vibrant berries, mandarin oranges, peaches, plums, pear, mango, pineapple, or nectarines can also be used for the fruit topping; the cream cheese filling is a blank canvas for your creation.
For more examples, I’ve created a Pinterest board labeled ‘Fruit Tarts‘ you can check out for inspiration.
Inspired by Fruit Pizza by Simply Living Healthy.
- 1 cup almond flour -- + 2 tablespoons for High Altitude
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon butter -- melted, plus more for greasing the pan
- 3 tablespoons honey -- or coconut palm sugar
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup orange juice or grapefruit juice -- freshly squeezed, without pulp
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons tapioca starch -- or cornstarch
- 8 ounces cream cheese -- softened, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice -- fresh squeezed
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- strawberries -- stems removed, halved, quartered, or sliced
- blueberries -- leave whole
- kiwi fruit -- peeled and sliced across to create rounds
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of 8" tart pan or line with parchment paper.
- Mix almond flour and salt in a mixing bowl to incorporate salt (if using coconut palm sugar, add that into the dry ingredients here). In another bowl, blend egg, butter, honey, and almond extract. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour into tart pan and smooth with spatula to form an even crust.
- Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack before adding filling.
- Mix orange juice, honey, and tapioca starch in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to combine. When mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring constantly, until glaze thickens--2-3 minutes. Transfer glaze to a bowl and allow to cool completely before glazing the tart.
- Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add honey, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla to the cream cheese and mix until well blended. Set filling aside until crust and glaze are completely cooled. These steps can all be done in advance and reserved until tart is ready to assemble and serve.
- Prepare fruit in the manner you prefer. In this application, strawberries were quartered, kiwi was sliced, blueberries remained whole.
- Once the crust is completely cooled, spread cream cheese filling evenly over crust -- an icing spatula works wonderfully here to create a smooth finish. Arrange prepared fruit over the filling in any design you choose. Whether you overlap the fruit, completely cover the filling, or allow it to peek through is up to you.
- Once all the fruit is in place, use a pastry brush to gently apply the glaze to the fruit, or use a spoon to drizzle glaze over the tart, just be sure to cover the fruit. Don't be shy, the glaze is not just for looks, it also adds a pleasing citrus accent to the tart.
- Chill until ready to serve. Serve within 24-48 hours.