The 4th of July has long since been an incredibly important holiday in my family, with many of my greatest childhood memories being swathed in shades of red, white, and blue. Since I’m a stickler for tradition, I’ve tried to carry these good feelings about the 4th into my adulthood. One of the easiest and tastiest ways for me to make the day feel extra special is to roll up my sleeves and pull together an appropriately thematic and delicious dessert to round out whatever festivities we get up to. While I’d love to spend hours upon hours on an elaborate layer cake or icing a hundred homemade cookies, my busy schedule in the summer just doesn’t allow such a luxury. Therefore, through trial-and-error, I’ve nailed down three recipes that have all the criteria I demand from a great Independence Day dessert: simple, delicious, and patriotic. Being that it is summer, and my family is particularly predisposed to love fruit, the following recipes are absolutely chock full of berries so you can feel a little less guilty about indulging in that second helping… or third, I won’t tell. So put on your most outrageously American flag printed clothing, slap on an apron, and pick one of these bad boys out for your very own.
Patriot Pops are a healthier take on the classic colors of the ice cream truck staples: Bomb Pops and Firecrackers. Loaded up with pureed fruit and Greek yogurt, they’re a sweet treat you’ll feel great about handing over to the kids, and since they’re such a cinch to make, you can easily involve little ones in the creation of their very own. Note: Since each layer must be frozen individually, it is best to start this recipe the day before any event or party they’re intended for.
Blender or food processor
Popsicle molds and sticks
Jars or cans to store fillings in fridge between freezing
Funnel (optional, but useful)
1 ½ cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
1 ½ cups raspberries or strawberries, frozen or fresh
1 ½ cups Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream
½ cup milk or almond milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
Two 1/3 cups water
Optional: blue food coloring
Chill popsicle molds in the freezer while making the three different fillings.
For bottom layer: Puree blueberries in blender or food processor, if they need help breaking down, throw in 1/3 cup water to help smooth out the mixture. Now, sometimes your blueberries may be a little more Willy Wonka in color than the desirable Smurf hue we associate with 4th of July colors, so you can decide to tweak the mixture, lightening it by adding in a dollop or two of Greek yogurt, or a few drips of blue food coloring, and blending to evenly distribute. Once you’re satisfied with your first filling mixture, it’s time to take the molds out of the freezer. Depending on how deep and broad your popsicle molds are, getting the blue mixture on only the bottom third of the mold can be quite difficult. The first time I starting making these, I tried to spoon them in and the blue ended up splattered up the sides of each, ruining the clean, striped look I was attempting. Learn from my mistake and invest in using a funnel to get your mixture to only the bottom third of your mold. If you don’t have a funnel though, my advice is to go ahead and spoon it in and then once the bottom third is full, take a small piece of wet paper towel and clean up the splatter from the rest of the mold. Return the mold to the freezer so the first layer can freeze. Set timer for 2 hours (may need longer depending on how cold your freezer runs). Clean blueberry residue completely from blender or food processor. Now, onto the second filling.
For second layer: Dump the 1½ cups of Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, milk, and sugar (omit if using ice cream) into your blender. Puree. Should still be fairly thick. Transfer mixture to a can or jar and place in the fridge. Clean residue entirely from blender again (this is the most exhausting part, sorry!).
For top layer: Puree raspberries or strawberries, adding 1/3 cups water if necessary as with blueberry layer. My family loves things a bit sweet-tart so we add a smidge of lemon juice to this layer and blend it in, but feel free to omit it if you just want pure raspberry goodness! Again, transfer mixture to jar or can and place in fridge.
Assembly: When 2 hour timer goes off, take molds out of freezer, the bottom layer should be solid, if it’s not pop them back in until they are (adjust subsequent freeze time accordingly!). Take the yogurt mixture out of the fridge and funnel or spoon it on top of the blueberry mixture in the molds, until the bottom 2/3 of the molds are filled. Again, clean splatters as necessary, and then place molds back into the freezer. Wait necessary freezing time. Repeat with the red mixture for the top layer. When all three layers are in the molds, insert popsicle sticks, and then return to freezer. Freeze for 8+ hours, though I would recommend just freezing them overnight. When ready to enjoy, run individual molds briefly under warm water to loosen the popsicle from the inside, and enjoy!
The Blue Ruby Crumble is a staple in my kitchen come summer, rivaling only the deeply beloved Strawberry Rhubarb Pie that my mother makes. Honestly, once you’ve made this thing once, you can make it in your sleep. The filling is tasty with either frozen or fresh fruit, and the topping consists of dumping the right things in a bowl and then letting a stand mixer do the work for you—what could be better? If only being lazy always led to such great rewards. If rhubarb isn’t your greatest love, feel free to substitute another red fruit like cherries or raspberries into the mix and give the BRC your own twist.
Food processor or stand mixer
Large mixing bowl
Large 8×11 baking dish
Baking tray with sides
2 cups fresh rhubarb, stalks cut into 1 in. pieces
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
½ tablespoon of cinnamon
1/3 cup of orange juice
1-cup quick cook rolled oats
½ granulated sugar and ½ cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ sticks cold butter (unsalted), cut into 1/8th inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
*make it à la mode (and truly red, white, and blue) and grab a pint or quart of vanilla bean ice cream for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Filling: Combine all fruit, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in large mixing bowl. Mix together. In a smaller bowl, dissolve cornstarch into the orange juice. Pour OJ mixture over fruit filling and toss to coat. Transfer coated fruit filling to baking dish.
Crumble topping: Combine flour, oats, granulated and brown sugars, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Fit the bowl into the bottom of a stand (electric) mixer and begin to mix on low. Slowly and gradually, add the slices of cold butter to the mixture. It should begin to moisten the dry ingredients, forming crumbles, and taking on the appearance of rather delicious smelling wet sand. Once all ingredients are combined with the butter, have fun sprinkling the crumble mixture over the top of the fruit filling in the dish. Make sure the topping is evenly distributed and covers all the fruit. Now, cover a baking tray in a layer of aluminum foil to prevent a sticky oven in the case of any bubbling over of the fruit mixture that may occur while it cooks. Place the baking dish onto the foiled tray and once the oven is preheated, pop it in. Set a time for one hour and sit back and relax while your house begins to smell more and more heavenly. Once done, remove from oven to cool for 20-30 minutes and serve warm with ice cream.
Full disclosure, I made this trifle for the first time last week, but let me tell you, I’m already dreaming about making it again for my upcoming 4th of July shenanigans. The fruit and angel food cake are light and airy, but the whipped cream cheese filling is dense and moist and phenomenal. The only way I could see this trifle being any better is perhaps making the filling into a lemon mousse, but that’s a project for another day. Trifles are great because they don’t have to be perfectly assembled to still be gorgeous (and, more importantly, tasty) so they lend themselves to kid-friendly involvement. Allow an adult to cut the fruits and cake, and whip together the topping, and then the kids can assemble the layers and decorate the top. It’s a perfect family activity that just happens to end in deliciousness.
Large 13 cup trifle bowl or large glass bowl without stand
Hand mixer or electric stand mixer
Large mixing bowl
2 pints strawberries, washed hulled and sliced into halves
2 pints blueberries, washed
Premade angel food cake from your favorite store or bakery, cut into 1 in. cubes
2 cups whipping cream, cold
Two 8 oz. packages of plain cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Extra strawberries, blueberries, or other red fruit for garnish as you wish
Directions: Once all fruit and cake items are sliced and diced, place them in bowls next to your trifle bowl for easy assembly. In electric stand mixer (with whisk attachment), whip the whipping cream on high until peaks begin to form and cream is firm enough to stay on your finger should you dip it into the mixture. Next, add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract into the whipped cream in the bowl and mix until combined into this lovely fluffy and gooey consistency.
Remove mixing bowl from stand and place next to trifle for assembly. Layering the trifle is easy, starting with a bottom base of angel food cubes, on which goes a layer of whipped topping, followed by berries, and so forth, until you should end with a whipped topping layer at the top on which you can decorate with berries or other things to your heart’s content. I told you it was simple!