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Jun 2, 2012 09:15 PM

Good 4th of July dessert to serve with my menu?

I'm thinking of having a little outdoor 4th of July get together. My idea so far has been for a salad, maybe romaine with blue cheese (grilled or not I'm not sure yet), then some sandwiches with provolone, roasted red pepper pesto, portabello, with arugula or spinach, and some watermelon, and then a dessert. I can't figure out what dessert would go well with the above and also feel kind of 4th of July-ish. Any ideas? I'm hoping for something that can be made or cut into a small size, so people can just grab a small piece and easily eat with fingers. Also, does the rest of the food sound okay?

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    1. re: 1POINT21GW

      As seen above but I take it one step further and make individual ones in little old fashioned glasses. (plastic) Everyone loves them and you don't have to worry about people digging into a large dessert and any sanitary conditions associated with it. They make a great presentation. Some I've done with cheesecake and others I've done with custard or bavarian cream, Easy step use vanilla pudding.

        1. re: bythebay

          I usually do a trifle too, in a big dish (my grandmother's, which my husband dropped recently). I have no idea what the sanitary concerns are regarding people scooping portions into their own dishes with a serving spoon.

          The nice thing about trifle is you can go as DIY or store-bought as you like, when it comes to the custard, cake, and cream components.

      1. I made a cheesecake in a 9 x 13 pan once that I decorated with strawberries and blueberries to resemble the flag--something like that might be an option. There are tons of July 4th dessert ideas online as well, from cupcakes (might fit better with the kind of snack menu you're planning) to layered desserts with strawberries and blueberries for color. You could mix blueberries and baby marshmallows or something else white in with chunks of watermelon if you decide to carve it decoratively (scoop out and then refill with balls or chunks of fruit).

        I personally wouldn't serve salad with sandwiches, and wonder if you're considering grilling the blue cheese why you don't grill some chicken or kabobs or something to make a more substantial meal, but that's just me as I think of BBQ being 4th of July party food.

        24 Replies
        1. re: Transplant_DK

          I agree with you transplant-the menu is lacking substantial cuisine

          1. re: iL Divo

            I think you can do it vegetarian, but perhaps a quinoa salad with grilled peppers, zucchini, red onion, etc would supplement it all? You could also prepare your sandwiches as wraps and then grill them briefly before serving.

            1. re: katecm

              That's a great idea for both the salad and sandwiches, thank you!

          2. re: Transplant_DK

            I agree, with you, for sure I'd be hoping I had more than one party to go to......Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Ribs, Chicken, Even grilled veggies if your not into meat.

            1. re: othervoice

              The portabello will be grilled and will be in place of burger. We don't have an outdoor grill, just a grill pan inside, so it's not that kind of grilling BBQ get-together. I guess maybe it would be a portabello "burger" rather than sandwich.

            2. re: Transplant_DK

              I'm vegetarian/pescatarian, so no meat.

              1. re: bythebay

                Sort of figured that. How about Cook's Country strawberry icebox pie? Basically, 2 lbs of strawberries cooked down to 2 cups, add 1 cup sugar, 1 tbs bloomed gelatin. Fold in 1 lb fresh berries (sliced). Pour into pie shell, chill. You can use this recipe to make individual tarts, or regular pie, I could see upping the gelatin content slightly, then making a sheet of shortbread cookies, topping that with strawberries, chilling, then slicing into cookie-bars.

                1. re: sbp

                  Yumm! Except gelatin is not vegetarian, but I can substitute for that. It sounds really good thank you.

                  1. re: bythebay

                    Sure. If you google it, you can see pictures. Cooking down the strawberries concentrates the flavor.

                    1. re: sbp

                      Oh my God, it looks really good. I think that might be what I go with, as individual tarts. Thank you! Do you think I could leave out the gelatin altogether or it would be get too runny without it? I've used a substitute for gelatin before so I could do that again too.

                      1. re: bythebay

                        I made a similar recipe last weekend in a rectangular tart pan (filling from, WS basic tart shell recipe). I think the gelatin - or a substitute - is very necessary. The tart pretty much stayed together when we sliced into it. It was pretty, and the filling didn't slide off. It keeps the slices from becoming all shell, no filling.

                        1. re: SAHCook

                          Thanks I'll definitely use gelatin or a substitute if I make this. Do you think that that pie would also be good with a graham cracker crust?

                          1. re: bythebay

                            I think it would be great! There's a recipe on one of those sites for a strawberry cream cheese tart. I did the filling with mixed berries on the WS tart shell, and it was really good. Not too sweet, and creamy. I'm not up on all the vegetarian definitions so I don't know if you do cream cheese and cream? Anyway, I immediately thought about a graham cracker crust for that one, kind of like a no-bake cheesecake. The graham cracker crust would be good with the strawberry one, too.

                            1. re: SAHCook

                              Oh good, I love graham cracker crust. Thank you!

                              1. re: bythebay

                                Definitely graham cracker would taste great. Whenever I do a fruit pie, I also melt a little white chocolate with some butter and "paint" the bottom crust with a very thin coat of it before I fill with fruit. (I spread it with my fingers; better control). This totally seals the crust, so it never goes soggy.

                                1. re: sbp

                                  Not that I was doing well anyway, but you've just completely ruined my weight loss efforst for this summer with that white chocolate tip - thanks a lot! ;)

                                  1. re: sbp

                                    Oh my, I agree with SAHCook, that is definitely getting into weight loss effort out the window territory! : ) But yum!

                      2. re: bythebay

                        Go into the kosher section of your market and they gelatin that is pareve vegetarian. All products marked pareve on the package are vegetarian.

                        1. re: paprkutr

                          Thanks so much, I never knew that. I think in the past I used something called "agar agar."

                          1. re: bythebay

                            Beware on the kosher gelatin. After eating yogurt for years that contained it (I thought, it can't possibly be animal if the yogurt is labelled kosher dairy) I got really curious about it and googled it...turns out it is often made of fish bones, but it's also perfectly acceptable for it to be made of hide or bones of cow, because it is considered so far removed from the flesh of the animal that it is no longer meat. Many online sources to document, here is one:

                            1. re: 16crab

                              Thank you so much! I'll stick to the agar agar I used before. It worked well. Thanks for the warning!

                      3. re: sbp

                        This recipe was so good. I'm wondering can I make this with other fruits too, by just subbing something else for the strawberry, say plum, peach or apricot, or would this really only work with strawberries in this recipe?

                        1. re: bythebay

                          fruits like plums won't cook down as much, but you could give them a whir with a stick blender to get that puree that forms the base.

                  2. How about two or three kinds of bars---lemon bars, brownies, or whatever sounds good. I love the Epicurious recipe for Apricot Walnut Bars:

                    The rest of the food sounds really good!

                    1. Mini apple pies. I make them in my mini-muffin tin. big hit.

                      15 Replies
                        1. re: critter101

                          Recipe? ha! Pie dough. Sliced apples, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, brown sugar, cornstarch. A small pat of salted butter on top of filling, then place a top crust, crimp edges (I use a baby fork), and put a slit in the top crust for steam to escape. Bake until crust is golden.

                          1. re: wyogal

                            what ! Apples for July 4th? no, berries!

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              We prefer apple pie to berry pie. As American as apple pie, ya know...

                              1. re: wyogal

                                I think it's the seasonality, not nationality, eg. turkey and stuffing would be American but not fourth of July.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Well, pardon me. I buy green apples all the time in the market to make apple pie. In this day and age, they are not that hard to come by year round.
                                  Do what makes you happy. For our house, it's apple pie that pleases us.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Once picked, apples will keep for a loooooooooooooong time without degradation of taste or texture. Good tasting apples can be found fairly easy now.

                                    1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                      As can good turkeys and stuffing.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Ah, I see. I'm sorry, I thought you meant good apples couldn't be found now. Instead, I think you're saying that apples are not indicative of summer. I honestly never knew people thought that. I've always thought of them as a having no quintessential time of year like there is with turkey, dressing, pumpkins, etc.. Thanks for the insight.

                                        Although, I gotta say, apple pie sounds pretty darn Independence Day to me. Maybe I'm alone on this though.

                                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                          Obviously not alone. I'm surprised that there is such an adamant opposition to a simple suggestion. sheesh.
                                          Have your berry pie, chowser. we'll have apple, and it will be damn good.

                                          1. re: wyogal

                                            I never suggested a berry pie but was trying to clarify what magiesmom was meaning. I think there is a seasonality to food and try to eat foods that are in season.

                                          2. re: 1POINT21GW

                                            It's more about eating food that is in season, for me. And, there is a seasonality to food, eg. as I've been saying turkey and stuffing is great and might be next month but it seems off season, just as I wouldn't do a braise in the middle of summer or berries in the middle of winter. Apples to me say fall as do pumpkins.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Apples do say fall to me, and I definitely bake with them more often when they're coming off the trees. BUT I personally prefer apple pie to berry pie - especially Dutch Apple Pie, although I hope that doesn't cancel out the "American as apple pie" aspect of it! ;)

                                              In fact, when I was learning to bake pie, apple pie was what I practiced baking because, to me, apple pie is the quintessential pie. I'd be soooo happy with one on the 4th!

                                    2. re: wyogal

                                      agree about the apple pie.
                                      the only berry pie I'm crazy about is the blueberry pie I've mentioned too many times on Chowhound.

                                      easiest with best colors if you're going for red/white/blue:
                                      the flag cake-a white sheet cake white frosting or whipped cream strawberries and blueberries.

                              2. My standard July 4th dessert is mixed berry shortcake -- strawberry, raspberry and blueberries, which, with the whipped cream, give you the red, white, and blue color motiff, and is a quintessentially American dessert. Hard to eat as finger food, however.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: masha

                                  Not true! I make them into sliders and they're fabulous. The trick is that you can't do very thin slices of strawberry - you pretty much have to halve them and use that as the filling. If you did regularly sliced strawberries, they'd squeeze right out:

                                  1. re: katecm

                                    Shortcake is what I was thinking too, but I wasn't sure if it would be good with the rest of the food. I like the mixed berry idea. But the cream won't slide out the sides?

                                    1. re: bythebay

                                      It goes. You can make the biscuits wider and flatter, scoop out a bit of the insides, the make it more of a container.

                                    2. re: katecm

                                      Shortcake sliders! I love that idea!

                                    3. re: masha

                                      Great idea, I just might have to steal it.