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Strawberry & Blueberry 4th of July Treat

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering

Makes 16 portions in 9” x 13” pan

Everyone has tasted a version of this dessert before now, but not everyone has the recipe.  The base and cream filling can be made a day in advance, and get the kids to ‘assemble’ the flag just prior to serving.  I make this with homemade gluten-free shortbread, but I’m also realistic, so feel free to use store bought gluten-free graham crackers or cookies. I think the addition of nuts makes this base taste so much yummier than a plain graham cracker crust. When I filmed this recipe in studio, the TV crew agreed: http://www.wmur.com/video/28347217/detail.html

Ingredients:

Base

  • 2 cups (approx. 8 oz. package) of gluten-free cookiesGluten-free 4th of July dessert
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups (8oz) pecans, almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) soft butter or alternative

Filling

  • 2 x 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature (lite or Neufchatel is fine)
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar plus ¼ cup honey (or use 1 cup powdered sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 sachet of gelatin sprinkled over 2 T. cold water in a small microwave-safe bowl and stirred in. (Gelatin looks like fine sand, and when mixed with cold water, becomes like a piece of rubber until heated.)
  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy or whipping cream (or 2 x 8 oz. packages of Cool Whip – lite is fine, thawed in fridge)
  • 1 basket of blueberries
  • 2 baskets of strawberries (normally 2 lbs. total)
  • 1 extra cup of heavy cream, 2 T. sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, whipped until stiff for decorating

*Always check the label to ensure your ingredients are gluten-free!

Directions:

Base

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Roughly break up cookies in your fingers and process in food processor to crumbs. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts and process until finely chopped but not ground. Add butter and run to mix.  The mix will look moist, but not a dough. Spread into greased 9” x 13” pan and press with hand or spoon to form a firm base.

3. Bake in 350° oven for 20 minutes, remove from oven and cool completely. It will crisp up as it cools.

Filling

1. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and honey in a 6-8 cup bowl.  Beat until smooth. 

2. Heat gelatin and water mixture in microwave for about 10 seconds until totally dissolved and looking like a pale yellow-brown liquid.  You must make sure all the gelatin is dissolved otherwise it sets into little rubbery lumps. Whisk into cream cheese mix.

3. Whip the 2 cups of cream until stiff in a separate bowl and gently whisk into cream cheese mix.  (Add thawed cool whip now instead of cream if that’s what you decided to use instead of real cream.) Taste and see if it is sweet enough for you.  If not, add some powdered sugar 1 T. at a time and gently beat in. Spread over cooled crust.

4. Place blueberries touching in a square about 4” x 4” for the stars.  Place halves or whole strawberries (depending on size) touching to make the red stripes on the ‘Stars and Stripes.’ I try to squish in as many strawberries as possible in rows. I don’t leave a space between the rows.

5. Using a star food tube, pipe stars of cream in the blueberry square.  Pipe lines of stars between the rows of strawberries to create the white stripes Pipe cream around the outside edge of pan and around the inside edge of blueberries to finish it off. 

6. Refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving. 

Tips & Alternatives:

If you are new to gluten-free, replace your old electric hand mixer since flour can be stuck in vents ready to fall into food.  Also, be aware that many new mixers do not have stainless steel beaters, so they will rust if you put them in the dishwasher.

I use gelatin to stop the cream cheese mix from flopping in the heat.  Gelatin doesn’t make mix hard; it just holds it together better. You can leave the gelatin out, if you prefer.

If a 9” x 13” dish is too much, you can easily make just half in an 8” x 8” brownie pan.  Use half in a 9” or 10” pie plate and put strawberries and blueberries in circles. Even cereal bowls, custard cups or ramekins can be used to make this recipe fit your needs.

To double check what pan will fit, pour water into an 8” x 8” pan or 9” x 13” pan and count how many cups of water it holds.  Choose the pan you would like to use, measure that with water and then do the math on paper to see how much to decrease recipe by.  Just make sure that whatever dish you use, it is oven safe since you will be baking the crust.

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