Festive Fruited-Cheesecake Flag

printed from melskitchencafe.com

*Note: For truly white stripes, cover alternating rows with just confectioners' sugar rather than lightly dusted strawberries. Also, the cheesecake (without being topped with fruit) can be made up to a day in advance and kept well-covered in the refrigerator.

*Makes about 48 squares

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

12 ounces (3 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

8-9 ounces (1-2 cups) blueberries

1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise into thirds

12 ounces (3 cups) raspberries

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Coat a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Coat parchment with cooking spray.

Sift flour and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on medium-high speed, occasionally scraping bowl, until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add light brown sugar, beating until very pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture all at once, and beat on low speed until just incorporated.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Press the dough into an even layer that covers the bottom of the sheet. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake the dough until the entire surface is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Let the cookie base cool completely in the baking sheet. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed, occasionally scraping bowl, until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Scrape the bowl, then mix in lemon zest, vanilla and a pinch of salt until well combined. Scrape the bowl, then beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated. The mixture should be very smooth; scrape the bowl as necessary. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust and spread into an even layer.

Bake the cheesecake until the filling is set, about 20-25 minutes. Let the cheesecake cool completely in the baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm and cold, about 4 hours (or overnight).

Run a sharp knife along short sides of sheet, and use the parchment overhangs to lift out the cheesecake. Run the knife under hot water and dry well. Use it to cut the cheesecake into 48 squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts.

Transfer squares to a serving platter, reforming the rectangle. Decorate the top left squares (3 down and 4 across), with a mound of blueberries on each square. Use raspberries (about 4 per square) to decorate the 1st, 3rd and 5th rows (the 1st and 3rd rows are shorter rows since part of them are decorated with blueberries). Decorate the remaining rows in one of two ways: either dust them with powdered sugar for a completely white row or place three cut strawberries on each square and dust the tops of the strawberries with powdered sugar. If using this method (to dust the strawberries with powdered sugar), dust the strawberries immediately before serving as the powdered sugar will begin to dissolve into the juiciness of the strawberries.

Serve immediately (or refrigerate for up to 3 hours).