The Fourth of July, America’s biggest day for cookouts and picnics, is just around the corner. If you’re one of the millions of Americans planning to host or attend a gathering to celebrate our nation’s independence, you’re probably looking for some festive foods to enjoy on the Fourth.
This year, I decided to put together some easy desserts, and used a popular picnic dessert ingredient to create a festive appetizer.
A recent survey revealed American’s No. 1 choice for dessert on the Fourth is ice cream. I thought it would be fun to reinvent the ice cream sandwich and make it a little more festive, so I mixed a little homemade blueberry sauce and raspberry sauce in to some vanilla bean ice cream to make give it a red, white, and blue effect.
I used the ice cream to make sandwiches by scooping it onto pizzelle cookies. I also like to make ice cream sandwiches using ladyfingers, which are more cake-like.
I also put together a strawberry shortcake spinoff and swapped the strawberry sauce for blueberry sauce and used a blueberry scone instead of a biscuit for the shortcake.
This was a quick treat to make because you can buy fresh scones at the store and the sauce can be whipped up in just a few minutes. Store-bought whipped cream can also simplify the process, but I whipped my own, which takes about five minutes.
Speaking of quick treats, a fun and festive appetizer for the Fourth can be made by stacking feta cheese on watermelon chunks and adding a blueberry for some patriotic color.
A drizzle of flavored olive oil, such as orange rosemary, adds extra flavor and a garnish of mint brightens up the dish.
- 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
- 4 store-bought scones
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
Add 2 cups of the blueberries to a saucepan and stir in the granulated sugar, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water.
Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a low boil, then stir in the cornstarch-water mix and lower the heat to medium. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, then remove from heat and set aside.
Add the whipping cream to a bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream on high until it thickens, is somewhat fluffy and holds its shape, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar and beat for several seconds to incorporate.
Cut the scones in half horizontally and spread the butter on the cut surface. Set a skillet over medium heat and place the scones, buttered side down, in the skillet. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly toasted, then remove from heat.
Place the bottom part of a toasted scone in a bowl, then spread a little sauce on top, then add a dollop of whipped cream. Place the top of the scone on the whipped cream, then drizzle with additional blueberry sauce.
Finish with a dollop of whipped cream on top for garnish before serving, if desired.
Red, White & Blue Ice Cream Sandwiches
- 7 ounce package pizzelle cookies
- 1 quart vanilla ice cream
- 6 ounce package of raspberries
- 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup water, divided
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
- 2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 4 tbsp water, divided
First, make the sauces to stir into the ice cream.
To make the blueberry sauce, add 2 cups of the blueberries to a saucepan and stir in the granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of water and the lemon juice.
Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat, then stir in the cornstarch-water mix and lower the heat to medium.
Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, then remove from heat and set aside.
Repeat the same process to make the raspberry sauce. Set both sauces aside to cool.
Line a container big enough to hold the ice cream with parchment paper and set it aside.
Once the sauces are cooled, set the quart of ice cream out to soften slightly for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer it to a large bowl.
Spoon a tablespoon of blueberry sauce into the ice cream, then swirl it around.
Repeat with the raspberry sauce. Alternate spooning the raspberry sauce and blueberry sauce throughout the ice cream until you achieve a red and blue swirl effect, then transfer the ice cream to the parchment lined container and set it in the refrigerator for about an hour to harden. To make the sandwiches, add a generous scoop to a pizzelle cookie and top it with a second cookie.
Patriotic Watermelon Stacks
- 1/2 watermelon, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 16 ounce package feta cheese (solid, not crumbled)
- 1 quart fresh blueberries
- 3 tbsp orange rosemary olive oil (or plain olive oil)
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
Set the watermelon cubes on a serving platter.
Cut the feta cheese into pieces that will fit on top of the watermelon cubes and stack them on top.
Skewer a blueberry on a cocktail pick, then insert the pick through the center of the feta and watermelon stack. Drizzle the olive oil over each stack and garnish with fresh mint before serving.