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Bring red, white, and blue to dessert

Published the week of June 27, 2016

Fourth of July celebrations rarely occur without food. While grilling and picnics might not have much room for festive colors, dessert definitely does. Just combine some naturally red, white, and blue foods in to something sweet and special.

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Red, White, and Blue Cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups butter-flavored shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 12-ounce package white chocolate chips
1 12-ounce package dried blueberries
2 6-ounce packages dried cranberries

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated. Beat in the other egg. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the white chocolate chips, blueberries, and cranberries, mixing just enough to evenly combine. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten each ball to about 1/2-inch thick. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 72 cookies.

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Red, White, and Blue Trifle

3 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 quart heavy cream
1 3.3-ounce package instant white chocolate pudding mix, unprepared
1 6-ounce container lemon yogurt
2 16-ounce prepared pound cakes, cubed
2 pints fresh blueberries, or as needed

Chill a large metal mixing bowl and beaters from an electric mixer. In a bowl, sprinkle the strawberries with sugar; stir to distribute the sugar, and set aside. Pour the cream into the chilled mixing bowl and add the white chocolate pudding mix, and lemon yogurt; beat until fluffy with an electric mixer set on medium speed.

Spread a layer of pound cake cubes into the bottom of a glass 10×15-inch baking dish. Cover the pound cake with a layer of strawberries; sprinkle blueberries over the strawberries. Spread a thick layer of whipped cream over the berries. Repeat the layers several times, ending with a layer of strawberries sprinkled with blueberries and reserving about 1 cup of whipped cream; top the trifle with dollops of whipped cream to serve. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 15 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Plan ahead and make red and blue ice cubes using food coloring and your drinks will be festive too.

Make low-fat treats in the new year

While it is nice to splurge on a decadent dessert occasionally, it is also nice to have a sweet ending to a meal that doesn’t undo a healthy diet.

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Serve these berries as is or use to top pound cake, angel food cake, or vanilla ice cream.

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

16 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Cut any large berries in half. Place all strawberries in a bowl. Drizzle vinegar over strawberries; sprinkle with sugar. Stir gently to combine. Cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour but not more than 4 hours. Just before serving, grind pepper over berries. Makes 6 servings.

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Double Chocolate Mousse

2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
1-1/2 cups fat-free milk, divided
1 1.4-ounce package fat-free, sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix
2 cups thawed nondairy whipped topping, divided
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

In a large microwaveable bowl, heat chocolate and 1 cup milk on High power for 2 minutes; whisk until chocolate is melted. Add remaining milk and dry pudding mix; beat for 2 minutes. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Whisk in 1-1/2 cups nondairy whipped topping; spoon into 6 dessert dishes. Top with remaining whipped topping and berries; serve. Makes 6 servings.

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Make sure that all your bowl, beaters, and pan are clean and very dry. Otherwise the egg whites could deflate.

Angel Food Cake

1 cup cake flour
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
12 egg whites
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar; set aside. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites along with the vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt to medium stiff peaks. Gradually add the remaining sugar while continuing to whip to stiff peaks. When the egg white mixture has reached its maximum volume, fold in the sifted ingredients gradually, one third at a time. Do not overmix. Put the batter into the tube pan. Bake until the cake springs back when touched, about 40 to 45 minutes. Balance the tube pan upside down on the top of a bottle, to prevent decompression while cooling. When cool, run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a plate. Makes 14 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

For a healthy dessert, mix low-fat yogurt with low-fat whipped topping and spoon this mixture over sliced fresh fruit.