Host a starry picnic on July 4th with these dessert recipes
I don’t mean to brag, but when it comes to pop culture I’m Albert Einstein, Steven Hawking, and Isaac Newton all put together.
Ah, who am I kidding? I really want to brag.
Need an example? I can sing a jingle for First Source Bank in South Bend, Indiana that ran 30 years ago. I can also identify any episode of “Brady Bunch” within the first 30 seconds, and, as a reminder, tell you the names of all of Marcia’s boyfriends (Harvey Klinger … Warren Melaney … Doug Simpson …).
Doubt me, and you will regret it. A friend once tried to test me by asking me to identify a TV cartoon based solely on the quote âCoin! Coin! “I looked at him, scoffed mockingly and said,” This is the mummy episode of ‘Scooby-Doo, where are you?’ “
Do not hate me because I’m beautiful.
Of course, I don’t remember anything really important. I can’t name Pi beyond two decimal places and have no idea how physics works. I can, however, sing the theme song from “Laverne and Shirley”, so let’s call it again.
I remembered my special talents (and limitations) as I sat down to write this column for July 4th. I wanted to focus on the red, white and blue desserts, so I started to think of songs that referred to the colors of the flag. Time and time again, a tune comes to my mind.
“Stars and stripes forever? ” Nope.
“Are you a Big Old Flag?” Hit two.
Instead, my brain kept coming back to this melody. Sing if you like.
âLove, American style! Truer than red, white and blue-ooh-ooh-ooh! Love, American style, is you and me.
My apologies to George M. Cohan.
For younger readers of this feature film, âLove, American Styleâ was a comedy anthology series that aired on ABC from 1969 to 1974. It was part of the original âMust See TVâ lineup which included âThe Brady Bunch “and” The Partridge Family “.
It featured a different cast each week that played short romantic comedy scenes. I guess it was considered a bit risky for the time. Still, it couldn’t have been too edgy or my parents would never have allowed us to watch it every week.
Forty-six years after the release of âLove, American Style,â I can’t remember a single episode. I can, however, remember that theme song, as well as the star logo and the fireworks that exploded during the opening credits.
And now those words are the inspiration for a starry dessert menu that’s perfect for your 4th of July picnic. Do them both or choose your favorite. They both contain some of the fresh fruits that are everywhere right now.
Try them out and enjoy your vacation. And always, always remember that “love, the American style is truer than red, white and blue”.
Again, I’m sorry Mr. Cohan.
Strawberry, pretzel and jelly dessert
Growing up, pretty much every vacation included some form of Jell-O. So, with July 4th on the horizon, I had to include at least one gelatin dessert.
Or, salad. Back home, anything with Jell-O was salad. It doesn’t have to make sense. Go for it.
This one is a recipe that I have grown to love as an adult. Layers of bright red Jell-O and sweet cream cheese are the perfect addition to the salty pretzel crust. Please try it this holiday.
There are variations of this dish all over the internet, but I found this one on the All Recipes site.
- 8 ounces pretzels
- Â¾ cup butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 container (8 oz.) Whipped topping
- 10 oz. strawberries, sliced
- 2 pkg. (3 oz.) Strawberry gelatin
- 2 cups of boiling water
To make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray. Put aside.
Crush the pretzels in the food processor, taking care of do not reduce them to dust or crumbs. You want pieces of pretzels that are about Â¼ inch in size for your crust. Add the melted butter and brown sugar to the food processor and mix just to combine.
Pour your crust into the prepared 9 x 13 inch pan. Spread evenly along the bottom – but not the sides – of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before continuing.
To make the cream cheese layer:
Beat cream cheese with your electric mixer until smooth. Add the whipped topping and sugar and beat until well blended. Spread over the cooled crust.
To make the gelatin layer:
Mix the strawberry gelatin with the boiling water. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 to 45 minutes until it cools and just begins to set. Pour over the layer of cream cheese. Sprinkle the sliced ââstrawberries evenly over the gelatin.
Refrigerate until set. Cut into slices and serve.
A classic berry pie
There’s no better way to use up fresh summer fruit than in this pie from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours” book. Feel free to personalize it as you wish. Use an assortment of berries or just one type. It will be good no matter what. However, for July 4th strawberries and blueberries seem appropriate again.
To make it, you will need a pie pan with a removable bottom. They are easily found in any store that sells kitchen supplies. Also, if you decide to use strawberries, hull the berries and cut them in half before putting them on the pie.
For the dough:
- 1Â½ cup of flour
- Â½ cup of powdered sugar
- Â¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold butter (the butter should be cut into small pieces)
- 1 large egg yolk
For the pastry cream:
- 2 large egg yolks
- Â¼ cup) sugar
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 cup of milk (whole milk if you have it)
- 1Â½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
For the icing:
- Â¼ cup strawberry jam
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 2 pints of berries (if you don’t want to go for the festive look for the fourth, you can also use raspberries and blackberries)
To make the crust in the food processor:
Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and mix several times. Spread the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and mix until the butter is coarsely cut (the mixture should have pieces the size of oatmeal and some the size of peas). Stir the yolk just to break it up, then add it little by little to the food processor. When the yolk is in, proceed in long pulses (about 10 seconds each) until the dough begins to form lumps and curd. With your hands, press the dough into a coarse ball and then flatten it into a disc.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can also do all of this by hand using a pastry blender (I tried and it worked well). It will take a little longer, but the dough will not come together in a lump. Instead, you can test when the dough is ready by squeezing it in your hand. If it sticks into a ball, it is ready to be pressed into the mold.
Butter a 9-inch pie dish with removable bottom. Press the dough evenly onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and place the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust (the author says you won’t need the pie weights). Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. Bake another 8 minutes until the crust is golden and firm. Transfer the pie pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before filling.
To make the pastry cream:
Beat egg yolks and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until thick and pale (about 8 minutes). Reduce mixer speed to low and stir in flour until blended.
Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add a few teaspoons of hot milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in the rest of the hot milk. Return the mixture to the pot and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 1 minute. Transfer to another bowl and stir in the vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the cream. Refrigerate for about 3 hours, until completely chilled, or up to 1 day.
To make the icing:
Heat the jam with the water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until it melts.
To assemble the pie:
Pour the pastry cream into the cooked but cooled pie shell. Smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Carefully lay the berries on top of the cream, arranging them in any pattern you like.
Brush pie with icing. To serve.