No-Bake Sweet Cheese Tart with Summer Fruit Compote

Sweet cravings don’t subside when the days are long, but our desire to turn on the oven generally does. The solution is a satisfying no-bake dessert.

With its tropical notes of lime, macadamias and coconut, a cool, creamy filling, and a juicy compote of your favorite fruits of the season, this tart celebrates the last weeks of summer in all their warm-weather glory.

The crust gets its surprising sweet-salty flavor from graham crackers and roasted, salted macadamia nuts. If you’re like me, you have an abundance of fresh fruit on hand at this time of year.

An ideal way to use any of the fruit that’s past its prime is to make an accompanying fruit compote. It adds vibrant color and a burst of sweetness to the tart’s lightly salted crust and tangy filling.

Cook the fruit — no need to peel, unless you’re using peaches — with jam or preserves briefly on the stovetop until thickened, then cool and refrigerate.

Fresh berries are a nice addition to the compote, and the coconut completes the tropical theme.

When you’re ready to serve, be sure to notice the temperature of your kitchen. Even with a lovely dessert in hand, the oven has remained off, and the room should be just as comfortable as when you started.

Ingredients:

Nut Crumb Crust
1/2 cup (3 ounces) roasted and salted macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
5 whole (2-1/2 ounces) graham crackers
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling:
10 ounces (2 1/4 small packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
Summer Fruit Compote:
4 cups assorted fruit, such as 1/2-inch-thick slices of nectarines, plums or figs and berries, like blueberries, strawberries or raspberries
1/2 cup raspberry or apricot jam or preserves
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups fresh berries (optional)
1-1/2 to 2 cups toasted dried coconut flakes (optional)

To make the crust: Place a round of parchment or waxed paper in the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Using a food processor, in short on/off bursts, pulse the macadamia nuts and powered sugar until the mixture is in tiny, chunky pieces (larger than sesame seeds yet smaller than pine nuts).

Break the graham crackers into pieces and add them to the nuts. Resume pulsing the mixture until it’s coarsely chopped (not finely ground) to yield a scant 2 cups. Transfer nut mixture to a large bowl and toss with the melted butter. Press evenly over bottom of springform pan. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to set the crust before filling.

To make the filling: Place the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer at medium-low speed until smooth. Add the creme fraiche, lime juice and zest, and beat until creamy.

Release the metal springform ring from the bottom and remove the crust. Using an offset metal spatula, spread the filling over the chilled crust. Return the tart to the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.

Remove the tart from the refrigerator and gently slip a long metal spatula under the parchment paper-lined crust to ensure that the crust is free from the metal bottom. (For now, the spatula is just going between the paper and the metal bottom.) Refrigerate again until serving.

To make the compote: Place the fruit, preserves and sugar in heavy medium saucepan and cook, stirring often, uncovered just until syrupy, 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Refrigerate until serving. If desired, at serving time fold in fresh berries.

To serve, carefully slip the thin-bladed metal spatula between the parchment liner and the tart. Cut wedges with a sharp knife. Slip the metal spatula under each portion to support it as you set it on a serving plate. Spoon some of the fruit compote next to the wedge. If desired, drizzle some of the compote’s juice decoratively over the wedge, and lightly sprinkle toasted coconut over the dessert and plate.

Serves 8

PER SERVING: 480 calories, 5 g protein, 47 g carbohydrate, 33 g fat (16 g saturated), 67 mg cholesterol, 186 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.