Celebrate Independence Day with something festive for the dessert table. You’ll wow your crowd with these colorful July Fourth treats that are stunningly simple to prepare (and barely have you near an oven or a stove). 

Raspberry-Blueberry Parfait 

This dessert looks great in parfait ­glasses. It can be made in the morning for the evening and is perfect for company. This amount fills six four-ounce glasses. You can use any type of pretty glass for this parfait. 

3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest
3 cups vanilla low-fat Greek-style yogurt
1 cup blueberries

Purée the raspberries in a food processor and blend in the sugar. If using frozen raspberries, make sure they are completely defrosted. Process until the mixture is smooth, brushing down the sides of the bowl if needed. 

Pour half the sauce into each of the six glasses, being careful not to touch the sides of the glass. Mix the lime zest into the yogurt, then scoop half the yogurt on top of the sauce. Repeat filling the glasses with the remaining sauce. Spoon the rest of the yogurt over the sauce, ending with the yogurt. 

Add several blueberries on top of each glass. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves six. 

Berry Fruit Salad

Sure, anyone can make a fresh fruit salad, but it’s the unique ginger-basil topping that wins the raves here. And a colorful berry mix always is perfect for celebrating our country. Use this as a guide, but feel free to substitute any fresh berries you like. 

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup honey
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups blackberries
2 cups raspberries
½ cup heavy cream

Whisk the ginger, basil, lemon juice and honey together in a bowl. Add the fruit, and toss well to coat all the fruit. Place the fruit in a glass bowl or plate so that all the pretty berries can be seen. 

Whip the heavy cream, and place a spoonful in the center or serve the cream on the side for people to help themselves. Serves six.

My Famous Blueberry Pie

This is my favorite way to take advantage of the abundance of blueberries when they are in season. The berries remain whole, juicy and firm because half of them are not cooked, while the other half are only briefly simmered. It’s astonishingly simple, but always wows a crowd. (Use a ready-made piecrust to shorten the preparation time. The crust is cooked blind, which means that it’s cooked without a filling.) 

1 nine-inch prepared piecrust
About 1 cup uncooked rice or dried beans
5 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 cup water
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
Raspberries (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the piecrust with parchment paper or foil. Add the uncooked rice or dried beans for weight to fill the bottom of the pie shell so that the pastry doesn’t bubble up. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes or until the edges are golden. Remove the piecrust, and set it aside. Throw away the rice/beans. 

Wash and drain the blueberries. Remove any stems, if necessary. Reserve two-and-a-half cups of blueberries for the sauce, and fill the baked pie shell with the remaining blueberries. 

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Add the water, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid thickens, stirring constantly, about three minutes. Add the reserved berries, and simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly or until the sauce is thick, not cloudy.

Spoon the cooked berries evenly over the fresh, uncooked berries in the pie shell. Place in the refrigerator to set. The pie can be made a day ahead.

Optional garnish: Whip the heavy cream, and serve a dollop on each slice with a raspberry on top. Serves eight. 

Lemony-Berry Tart

This dessert has a light, lemon-flavored, creamy base. It’s topped with strawberries and blueberries.

1½ cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 eight-inch prepared graham-cracker crust
5 strawberries, sliced lengthwise
1 cup blueberries

Add the heavy cream and sugar to a large saucepan over low heat. Cook without boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about five minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, and boil to thicken the sauce, stirring constantly, about six to seven minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. 

Remove the sauce from the heat, and let it cool for several minutes. Spoon the mixture into the graham-cracker crust, then refrigerate for at least two hours. The tart can be made a day ahead.

Festive garnish: Wash the strawberries and blueberries. Set the fruit on paper towels to dry. Remove the stems of the strawberries, and slice lengthwise. Arrange the strawberry slices around the edge of the pie, and place the blueberries in the center.

The pie can be eaten immediately or held in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature about 15 minutes before serving. Serves eight.

Strawberry–Chocolate Chip Ice-Cream Sandwiches

July is national ice-cream month. Here’s a recipe to build your own ice-cream sandwiches in a snap. They’ll keep several days in the freezer. Tip: Work quickly to keep the ice cream from becoming too soft. Thin chocolate wafers can be found in most supermarkets, but any type of thin cookie can be used. 

3 cups strawberry ice cream
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
16 chocolate wafers (about two inches in diameter and 1⁄8-inch thick)

Place the ice cream in a bowl, and stir in the chocolate chips. (Let the ice cream soften for a minute if it is very hard.) Place the bowl in the freezer to firm up the ice cream after the chips have been added, about 30 minutes. Place the chocolate wafers on a countertop, flat side up.

Fill a one-quarter dry measuring cup with ice cream, then spoon it onto the flat side of a wafer. Continue to measure one-quarter cup of ice cream onto seven more wafers. Cover with the remaining eight wafers, flat side down. 

Gently, press the cookies together until the ice cream comes to the edge. Smooth the edges with the back of a spoon. Place them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to harden. Makes eight sandwiches.  


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