Oh Summer how I love you! The sun on my cheeks, riding with the windows down with the radio blaring (80’s metal naturally), backyard cookouts and chilling out with friends around a fire-pit drinking a few cold ones. There’s just something simple about summer to me. It’s unpretentious and more ‘take me as I am’ type of season. It’s carefree even. The kids are out of school, families are going on vacation, graduation parties are in full swing and it’s like every weekend someone is having a cookout. No need to get dressed up or put on a winter coat. Just throw on some shorts, grab a tank shirt (clean please) and if you are one of those folks that likes flip flops – grab ’em.
Summer is a time to chill out in the evenings, hang out with family and friends on the weekends. Catch a game – FYI, PNC Park here in Pittsburgh is GORGEOUS!!! OMG one of the prettiest skyline views ever! And if you’re like me right now you’re in full on Penguins Fever as we are going for the Stanley Cup. GO PENS!!! Yeah – I’m a HUGE sports fan. I mean growing up in Pittsburgh AND having 4 older brothers of which one of them played for the NFL it’s kind of requirement to be a sports fan.
Growing up our house was the house that folks gathered at especially during the summer. We had 41 acres and a field that was an actual football field (with goalposts). Again – 4 brothers, all played sports. I can remember us having cookouts weekly and at least once a month we’d have a huge picnic/bbq where at times we had close to 200 folks there. Everyone brought stuff even though Mom would insist that she would take care of the food. It’s funny as we were probably the poorest family yet somehow she managed to put out a spread a king would be impressed with.
I can still remember her the day before the huge party we’d all have our jobs to get things done. The boys were in charge of setting up the volleyball net and tether ball, my sister would set up croquet, my job was to thumbtack the plastic tablecloths to the 6 picnic tables Dad built as well as the 10-15 card tables and whatever else we could use as a table. Heck we’ve even used wooden saw horses with sheets of plywood across them as a table.
Mom was a planner; guess that’s where I get it from. Everything had its place – silverware at the beginning AND at the end of every food table because as she said “Lord knows when people see food they go all caveman and forget that we need utensils.” Speaking of, did you ever notice that when it comes to utensils that spoons are almost always the first thing to go at a party or picnic. Like literally in any catering job I did or even party I hosted I always had to have double the amount of spoons. And furthermore, no one uses knives.
Now our picnics were pretty grandiose when it came to food. We’re not talking a few burgers or dogs. OH NO! We’re talking pounds upon pounds of burgers, a case or so of hot dogs, 15-20 pounds of hot dogs, drumsticks on the grill (we pretty much would clear out a chicken farm), 20 pounds of potato salad, 5-10 pounds of macaroni salad, enough baked beans you could toot across country (giggle), bags of chips galore, hot salads, cold salads, 20 dozen of deviled eggs (to which every single one would go!), ham bbq’s, Dad’s ham salad (my fav!), stuffed cabbages (we’re talking 3 HUGE roasters full), halushki and at least 2 picnic tables full of desserts.
Ah Mom’s dessert tables ROCKED! I swear she didn’t sleep for a week from all the cooking and baking. She always made her Blackout cake and Pineapple Upside down sheet cake, at least 6 different kinds of cookies of which there were at least 6 dozen of each kind. She’d had rice krispie treats, jello salads, 4-5 different types of pies and whatever else she felt like making. One of those desserts was this strawberry pie but it had a almost creamy filling with it. It wasn’t like this cheesecake but it was something that I, to this day, can’t replicate. It’s not that I can’t do it; it’s that I can’t recall it vividly. I remember it being in a sugar cookie crust but the filling was pink and packed with strawberries. So since I can’t replicate that…yet; I decided to make my own summer berry tart. Since I’m all about no-bake cheesecake right now I wanted something that looked elegant and gave that wow-factor on appearance (and taste) but was seriously easy. I mean c’mon it’s summer after all and no one really wants to slave away at the oven while there’s a party going on somewhere, right?!
So that’s where this Creamy No Bake Cheesecake Strawberry Tart comes into play. I took the crust from my Sugar Cookie Crust fruit cups and turned it into a larger tart shell and then took the filling from my cheesecake parfaits and merged the two! What I love about this tart, besides how awesome it tastes, is that you can totally customize it for the summer holidays! Want to make it all patriotic for the 4th of July? Just add in some blueberries amongst the strawberries and when you’re ready to serve add dollops of whipped cream on top to give it that red-white-and-blue appeal!
What I also love about this tart is you can totally make up the tart shell well in advance and even freeze it unfilled! It keeps in the freezer for up to a month! And that cheesecake filling takes all of what, 5 minutes to make? Seriously… ZERO excuse to not make this! Show up at a backyard bbq with this in your arms and you’ll be the hit of the party for sure! So say HELLO TO SUMMER with this Creamy No Bake Cheesecake Strawberry Tart and HELLO TO YUM!
Sugar Cookie Tart Shell
- 3/4 cups butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 12 ounces cream cheese, full fat and room temperature
- 1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoon heavy cream
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups sliced strawberries plus one whole strawberry
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Make the Sugar Cookie Tart Shell
- Spray a 9 – 10″” tart pan with a removable bottom with non-stick cooking spray.
- Preheat oven to 350F, rack in the middle.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together for 5-7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Yes you need to do this for 5-7 minutes.
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.
- Turn off the mixer and add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cornstarch.
- Turn the mixer on low to incorporate and then to medium.
- Mix until smooth. Dough will be thick.
- Press the cookie dough in bottom of the cup and about 1/2 way up the sides of each cup. Be sure to have the dough uniform in thickness. Error on the side of thicker versus thinner.
- Bake 15-20 minutes or until the tart shell is cooked and very lightly golden brown. The shell will be slightly soft but harden upon cooling.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the tart pan. Allow to cool completely once removed from the pan.
- Once the shell has cooled completely, make the cheesecake filling.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whip together the cream cheese and greek yogurt until smooth and creamy.
- Shut off the mixer and add in the confectioners’ sugar then slowly turn the mixer on gradually mixing until it’s mixed in.
- Shut the mixer off and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium and slowly add in the cream and vanilla.
- Whip until light and creamy.
- Fill the tart shell with the cheesecake filling up to the top of the shell. Any leftovers, refrigerate for a snack!
- Starting on the outside of the tart line the sliced strawberries going around the shell. Repeat the circles until all that’s left is enough space in the center for the whole berry.
- Sprinkle on the mini chocolate chips.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.