New York City isn't the sort of place where people just pop over for dessert, or to borrow a cup of sugar, or crash your Wednesday night dinner if they smell brown butter and sautéed mushrooms wafting down the stairwell.
I've lived in all sorts of places where casual near-cohabitation was the norm. Summers in an open tent at camp in Vermont, a few months doubled up in bunk beds in a lakefront house in New Hampshire, and growing up in a sprawling farmhouse with 3 sisters.
In high school, I lived in a one-room cabin with 8 people in Maine for a semester. It was heated by a wood-burning stove at the center and our beds lined the perimeter. At night, I'd fall asleep easily, comforted by the sensation of other people nearby: breathing, sleeping, whispering, studying.
I do miss the sort of living where close physical proximity breeds intimacy: When your lives ebb and overlap without deliberation or planning. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere just like that, you'll need a few good back-pocket recipes in case someone yells upstairs that they're coming over to watch the Emmys, or stopping by on their way home from drinks.
A perfect emergency dessert recipe for that very situation is this simple and quick fruit tart. The crust is a basic graham cracker-and-butter affair. Just whiz graham crackers (or any buttery cookie) and melted butter together in a food processor, press it into a pan, and bake for about 10 minutes until browned and fragrant.
As the crust cools, whip some cream and fold it into an equal amount of Greek yogurt. If your fruit is sweet, skip the sugar. If not, add a tablespoon or two of sugar.
Spread the yogurt mixture into your crust and top it with fruit: Berries or sliced peaches or sliced poached pears. It's a very loose guide to dessert: Anything you have on hand will work. Add some chopped, toasted nuts if you want, a drizzle of caramel sauce, or a dusting of powdered sugar.
Simple Fruit Tart
2 cups fruit (berries or sliced stone fruit)
10 graham cracker sheets
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they are in fine crumbs. Mix in the sugar and pulse several times. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until the mixture comes together.
Press the graham cracker crumbs into a tart pan or pie pan. I find it helps to use a ramekin or measuring cups to tamp the crumbs down into place, and press them neatly up on the sides.
Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until it starts to brown and smell delicious. Remove it from the oven and let cool.
While the crust cools, whip the cream until it has soft (but not too soft) peaks. Add the sugar (unless your fruit is very sweet) and blend in for a few seconds. Fold the whipped cream into the Greek yogurt, and spread this mixture over your cooled crust.
Drop the berries or sliced fruit over the surface of the tart. If you like, garnish with chopped, toasted nuts or powdered sugar.