For a truly patriotic display this weekend, offer red, white and blue desserts exploding with the flavor of fresh fruit and berries.
Abigail Johnson Dodge, author of the Williams-Sonoma Dessert cookbook, tempts friends and family with a berry-rich trifle suitable for backyard celebrations or picnics.
"It's a classic dessert and travels very well," says the classically trained pastry chef. "Most people think you have to make it in big glass bowls. But it works wonderful in Tupperware or a plastic bowl."
For her husband and two children, Dodge prepares the trifle with a nice variation - she uses chocolate-cake layers instead of poundcake.
Crab City and Seafood Company in Greenspring Station features its own patriotic confection aptly dubbed the "Red, White and Blue." Two sweet blueberry shortcake discs topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh whipped cream sit in a pool of strawberry-and-blueberry coulis and berries.
Sous-chef Giovanni Azzara came up with the recipe for a biweekly staff meeting where Crab City chefs offer new dessert suggestions. "We all loved it," said restaurant manager Rafael Hernandez of the confection. "We try to rotate our desserts. We do all homemade; the only thing we buy is the ice cream."
Find Azzara's treat on the menu at Crab City this Fourth of July and during the summer months.
Red Star restaurant in Fells Point offers another holiday dessert possibility - a red, white and blue fruit tart on a graham-cracker crust.
Executive chef Bill Hughes, who created the tart, credits his great-grandmother from Reggio di Calabria in the southern tip of Italy for his baking panache. "I did a lot with her. She was pretty much my influence," he says of the dessert recipes that "pop" into his head.
With Red Star's location near the waterfront, he says the new restaurant expects a crowd on the Fourth of July. And, of course, Hughes will be serving his sweet salute to America.
Red, White and Blue Trifle
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups mixed berries such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and halved strawberries
3 tablespoons dark rum or sweet sherry
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
6 slices poundcake each 1/2 inch thick
sweetened whipped cream for serving
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the 1/3 cup sugar and the cornstarch until pale and well-blended. Pour the cream into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Gradually add hot cream to the egg mixture while whisking.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until just boiling and very thick, about 4 minutes.
Pour it into a clean bowl and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the sides and gently press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
In a large bowl, toss together the berries, the rum, the zest and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until well-mixed. Cut each poundcake slice into 8 pieces. Arrange half of the cake pieces snugly in the bottom of a 2 1/2 -quart serving bowl.
Spoon half of the berries along with half of the juices over the poundcake. Pour half of the chilled custard over the fruit. Top with layers of the remaining pound cake and the berries and their juices. Pour the remaining custard over the fruit. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.
Just before serving, top with whipped cream and garnish with the toasted almonds.
-- From "Williams-Sonoma Dessert" by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Simon & Schuster, 2002, $16.95)
Per serving: 331 calories; 4 grams protein; 23 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 29 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 187 milligrams cholesterol; 94 milligrams sodium
Raspberry-Blackberry Cobbler With Biscuit Topping
Makes 12 servings
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
6 cups fresh or frozen red raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons ( 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger (divided use)
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (divided use)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To prepare fruit: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Mix sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel and cinnamon. Add berries and lemon juice; toss to blend.
Transfer to prepared dish. Dot with butter. Bake until mixture begins to bubble, about 30 minutes for fresh berries, 45 minutes for frozen berries.