4th of July Inspired Dessert Recipes

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Holidays are an excuse to treat yourself to something sweet.  Add a little red, white, and blue to your dessert this 4th of July and surprise your guests with one of these delectable creations that is sure to make their mouths water.

1. Flag Cake

Ingredients

Cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons rainbow or red, white and blue sprinkles

Frosting:
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces chopped white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Garnish:
1 cup blueberries
One 16-ounce container strawberries
1 tablespoon apple jelly or apricot jam, melted

 

Method

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and coat again with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together and set aside.

Beat the butter with the granulated sugar on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, and then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined. Beat in half the buttermilk and then repeat, adding the flour in two more increments and alternating with the second half of the buttermilk. Stir in the sprinkles. Transfer to the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly. Bake until golden brown and the top springs back to a light touch, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in the pan.

Run a small knife around the edges of the cake to release the sides and turn the cake out onto a baking sheet. Remove the parchment paper and then flip again onto a serving platter or cutting board so the top of the cake is back on top. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: Place the butter and salt in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the white chocolate and beat until fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar and the vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until very smooth and fluffy.

Transfer 1/2 cup of the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a small rosette tip. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

For the garnish: Place the blueberries in six rows of 6 berries each in the top left hand corner of the cake. Trim and halve the strawberries lengthwise and make four rows of strawberries across the cake. Pipe 13 stars between the blueberries and use the remaining frosting to pipe a border around the bottom of the cake. Brush the berries with the melted jelly. Cut and serve.

 

2. Star Studded Berry Tarts

Ingredients

For the crusts:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup pecans
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg, beaten
For the pastry cream:
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blueberries
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

 
Method

Make the crusts: Pulse the flour, pecans, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Drizzle in 6 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a disk; wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Lightly flour a large sheet of parchment paper. Roll out the dough on the parchment into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle. Trim into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle (reserve the scraps). Cut into eight 3-by-4-inch rectangles. Separate the pieces slightly on the parchment, then use your fingers to crimp the edges. Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet. Roll out the scraps until 1/4 inch thick. Cut out 8 stars using a small floured star-shaped cookie cutter; arrange on the baking sheet around the crusts. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Poke holes in the crusts with a fork. Brush the stars and the edges of the crusts with the beaten egg. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes; remove to a rack to cool completely.

Make the pastry cream: Combine the milk, 1/3 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk 1/2 cup buttermilk, the egg yolks, cornstarch and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a bowl. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook, whisking, until thick and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons buttermilk. Lay plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate 45 minutes.

Carefully transfer the crusts to a platter. Spread the pastry cream on the crusts, then top with the berries. Top each tart with a star. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

 

3. Patriotic Pin Wheel Cookies

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Red food coloring
Blue food coloring

 

Method

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition, then add the vanilla.

Turn the mixer off. Add the flour and then beat just until combined. Remove the dough and separate it into three equal pieces. Shape one piece of the dough into a 4- by 4-inch square, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. (This will be the white portion of the cookies.)

Return one of the remaining pieces of dough to the stand mixer bowl, and with the mixer on "low," add in the red food coloring until it reaches your desired color. Remove the red dough, shape it into a 4- by 4-inch square, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. (This will be the red portion of the cookies). Clean out the bowl to remove any red food coloring residue.

Add the final piece of dough to the stand mixer bowl, and with the mixer on "low," add in the blue food coloring until it reaches your desired color. Remove the blue dough, shape it into a 4- by 4-inch square, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. (This will be the blue portion of the cookies.)

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge and cut each square in half to form two rectangles. Wrap half of each color of dough in plastic wrap and return it to the fridge. Place the red dough in between two pieces of wax paper and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll out the white dough between two separate pieces of wax paper until it is a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll out the blue dough between two separate pieces of wax paper until it is a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick.

Peel the top layer of wax paper off of the red dough and then peel the wax paper off one side of the white dough and use the other side to transfer the white dough on top of the red dough. Peel off the wax paper from one side of the blue dough and use the other side to transfer it atop the white dough. Very lightly roll the three layers together.

Starting at the shorter end of the rectangle, roll the dough as tightly as possible into a log. Repeat the rolling and stacking process with the remaining dough in the fridge. Wrap the logs in wax paper and then plastic wrap and refrigerate them for 1 hour.

Remove the dough logs and roll them on the counter several times so they don't develop a flat side. Alternately, stand the rolls up in glasses in the fridge. Refrigerate the dough for 4 more hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and slice each log into 1/4-inch rounds. Place the rounds about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, as the cookies will expand when baked.

Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes until pale golden, and then transfer them to a wrack to cool completely.

 

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