Southern Stories
Freedom Never Tasted So Sweet: Dessert Pizza
Jan 27/17

Freedom Never Tasted So Sweet: Dessert Pizza Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

As a child, my heroine was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read and re-read my Little House on the Prairie books until the covers tore and fell off. The deference given to Sundays and a few select holidays always made a big impression on me. The Christmas stories were my favorite, but I also enjoyed reading the descriptions of Fourth of July celebrations from the childhoods of Wilder and her husband, Almonzo.

It was a day of rest from work and special foods such as fried chicken were prepared. In town, neighbors gathered for games, music, and food treats such as ice-cold lemonade. Instead of a fireworks show, the climax of the celebration came when someone would read the entire Declaration of Independence aloud to the crowd.

It is a monumental day in our history and it’s worthy a day set aside, with all the special attention it deserves. You can devote part of your effort to the food for the day, especially the desserts. I usually make an apple pie with the top crust made of pastry cut into stars and stripes to create a flag design on top. A delicious southern strawberry shortcake may be given a patriotic look with the addition of blueberries. Chill your drinks by filling ice trays with raspberries and blueberries in the water to give your iced beverages a touch of the red, white, and blue.

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Every year, I see the recipes for cakes with tub whipped topping and berries to form a flag. They’re cute, and they have their place, especially when schedules are tight, but I wanted to create a homemade version which would really satisfy your sweet tooth on this hot holiday. A buttery shortbread crust is topped with a cream cheese layer and homemade strawberry pie filling. Whipped cream and berries form the stars and stripes pattern on top. This is best made ahead and stored in the refrigerator which leaves you free to enjoy your day. Try this dessert pizza as the grand finale for your Fourth of July cook-out.

The Pie Belle’s Red, White, and Blue Dessert Pizza
Strawberry Filling
1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and finely chopped in food processor
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water

Shortbread Crust
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
7/8 cup (1 stick and 6 tablespoons) cold butter

Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream Cheese Layer
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup reserved whipped cream (from that made as part of the whipped cream topping above)
Also: 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

In a saucepan, combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. In a small bowl, use a whisk to stir cornstarch and water until smooth. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the strawberries and cook for about ten minutes, or until bubbly and thickened. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool.

To make the crust, combine flour, powdered sugar, and lemon zest. Use a pastry blender or your hands to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is crumbly, with no loose bits of flour. Dump this mixture into a 12- inch pizza pan and press into place firmly with your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup. Use flour on your hands if necessary. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool completely, in the pan, on a baking rack.

To make the whipping cream, combine whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Cover and set in refrigerator.

To make the cream cheese layer, combine cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat well until blended and smooth. Add 1 cup of previously whipped cream (from steps above). Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture.

To assemble the pizza: Spread the cream cheese layer evenly over the shortbread crust, leaving about ½ inch of crust around the edge. Spread the strawberry filling evenly over the cream cheese layer. Either use a decorative tip* to pipe the remaining 2 cups of whipped cream, making stars in the upper left quadrant of the pizza and stripes for form the white stripes of the flag, OR spread the whipped cream evenly over the strawberry layer. Place fresh blueberries in the upper left quadrant. Place strawberry quarters, horizontally, so they form the red stripes of the flag.

*I used decorative icing tip 1M for the stars and tip 2D for the zig-zag stripes. Both tips require large couplers for your icing bag. A gallon-size storage bag with the corner snipped off may be used as an icing bag.

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