Stars & Stripes & Sweets

The forth of July screams barbecue to me.

I'm sure there were millions of BBQ's happening around the country on Wednesday, and we were one of them.

I was in charge of the dessert. It kind of my forte.

I wanted to try something new this year and still be festive in the red/white/blue holiday theme.

I went to Pinterest to look for ideas and I was disappointed in my findings!  I never thought that Pinterest would let me down, but apparently red white and blue desserts are not their thing. 

After searching around the internet, I finally stumbled across the Betty Crocker website.

I actually got there by following a link to this Firecracker cake.
Once I looked at the cake, I realized it was not really what I was looking for, but I saw a side bar add for these cheesecake squares.
I was intrigued by the "no bake" cheesecakes. I absolutely LOVE cheesecake, but hate the time and energy that they require.

I actually love cheesecake so much, I made 15 homemade cheesecakes that we served at our wedding for our dessert.  I'm not a huge fan of regular cake, and I couldn't find a bakery cheesecake that I liked, so I used my own recipe.  Yes, I'm that picky about my cheesecake.

Anyway, back to the 4th of July dessert.

The recipe was for Berry-lemon cheesecake squares. I HATE lemon in desserts. So, I knew I needed to tweak the recipe. I figured I could swap out the lemon flavor for either Almond or vanilla extract.

After realizing that this could possibly be the easiest cheesecake EVER, I was sold on doing this recipe.  What was awesome is that it was semi-homemade (just like Sandra Lee) so I didn't have to spend all day in the kitchen.  Here is what I ended up with:

Berry Cheesecake Stars (adapted from Betty Crocker's Berry-Lemon Cheesecake Squares)
  • Pastry Stars
    • 1 pre-made pie crust (I used Safeway brand crust, but you could make your own as well)
    • 1 Tbs non-fat milk
    • 2 Tbs Sugar
    • Blue Food coloring
  •  Cheesecake Filling
    • 1/2 Whipping cream
    • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
    • 1/4 C. Sugar
    • 2 Tsp Vanilla
  • Topping
    • 2 cups Fresh berries tossed with 2 tsp of sugar (I used blackberries & strawberries)
  • Heat oven to 450°F.
  • Unroll one crust on lightly floured work surface (I froze the other crust for a future dessert). Use a large cookie cutter (I used a star) to cut out base shapes, and smaller cutters for top pieces.  If you run out of crust, you can ball up the crust remnants and roll them out again. 
  • Mix milk with food coloring and sprinkle on crust shapes as desired; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar. Place large cutouts on un-greased large cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown. 
  • Then bake the small cutouts 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned. (They burn easily, so keep an eye on them)
  • Mix berries with sugar and set aside 
  • In a small bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. In another small bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and the vanilla extract on medium speed until fluffy. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon mixture into each large cutout (I made 8 total). 
  • Arrange berries and smaller cutouts over filling. Cover and refrigerate any remaining squares.

I have to say, they were absolutely delicious!  If you are looking for a semi-homemade but wholly-delicious dessert, I highly recommend these guys. Plus, you could change up the shapes, colors and berries and make them for any occasion.