This dessert was inspired by my friend Christine. As teenagers, we often put together little dinner parties or just made food together from recipe books we started collecting at a very early age. She started making something called a Tranchee aux Fruits, which was basically a crust, a sweet cheese layer, and a layer of fresh fruit. To make the dish especially appealing, you melt a little apricot jam with some water and brush it over the fruit, which gives it a beautiful, jewel-like shine. Once you have the crust made, this dish could not be simpler to make, and everyone seems to find it quite impressive. You should feel free to play around with the combinations of fruit you use, depending on what you find freshest at the market. Also, alter the cheese mixture to your liking. Most often, I just use a bit of regular cream cheese, mixed with confectioners sugar and flavored with a little vanilla extract. Here, I used some almond extract and I think that, in the future, I’ll try a little orange flower water. Go with your instincts on what you think works together. I chose the almond flavor here because the peaches (and all stone fruits) are related to almonds. If I am feeling a little more fancy or frivolous with money, I might try some Mascarpone cheese in this recipe, or some other Neufchatel-style cheese.
As far as the crust is concerned, make it as simple or complicated as you like. For this version, I made a pat-in-pan shortbread crust which was delicious and easy. Granted, it was not as easy as the store-bought crescent rolls that Crissy and I used to use, but not too bad. A homemade or store-bought flaky pastry crust will work, too. Just make sure that you get enough crust up the sides of your pan to hold the cheese and fruit. Regardless of what you choose as the crust, I think a fluted tart pan makes the most attractive presentation. In these high-summer days, when fresh, local fruit is at its best, I cannot think of a better way to showcase those delicious flavors.
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