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Outshine the fireworks this July 4 with sparkling sweets

on June 23, 2013 3:00 AM

Fireworks don’t have to be the only party element that makes guests ooh and ah during July Fourth festivities. With colorful sweets that sparkle and a themed tablescape exploding with red, white and blue, your party is sure to be the best on the block.

Cool Watermelon Cheesecake

Makes about 12 servings

Crust

1 1/4 cups (16 ounces) roasted salted pistachios

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1/4 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted green icing color

Filling

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon imitation clear vanilla

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 package (16 ounces) frozen whole strawberries, thawed, pureed and strained (about 1  1/2 cups)

1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin

No-taste red icing color

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided

In food processor, pulse pistachios until coarsely ground. Add coconut, sugar, butter and icing color; pulse until well combined. Press into bottom an 3/4 up side of 9-inch springform pan. Refrigerate while making filling. In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Add heavy cream and beat until combined. In small saucepan, bring strawberry juice just to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over top and whisk vigorously to dissolve completely, about 3 minutes. Pour into cream cheese mixture. Add icing color and beat until well combined. Beat in 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips. Pour into chilled crust. Sprinkle top with remaining chocolate chips. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

Sweet Sliders

Makes about 24 Sweet Sliders

Cake Buns

1 package (16 ounces) yellow cake mix

Eggs, water and vegetable oil to prepare mix

Brownie Patties

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon water

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 egg

Toppings

Shredded coconut

Leaf green icing color

Assorted fruit flavored candies

Red sparkle gel

Yellow sparkle gel

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare whoopie pie pan with vegetable pan spray. For buns, combine cake mix, eggs, water and oil in large bowl; mix according to package instructions. Fill prepared pan cavities 2/3 full with cake batter.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes, or until tops of cake spring back when touched. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove to cooling grid and cool completely. Repeat with remaining cake batter.

For patties, combine flour and salt in small bowl. In small saucepan, melt butter and sugar with water; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add chocolate chips; stir until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. In large bowl, beat egg with electric mixer. Add chocolate mixture; mix well. Add flour mixture; stir until just combined. Divide batter evenly between whoopie pie pan cavities, filling about 1/3 full.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out nearly clean. Cool 10 minutes; loosen edges of brownies and remove from pan. Cool completely.

For toppings, mix shredded coconut with leaf green icing color for lettuce. Roll yellow fruit candies into thin layers for cheese. Use red and yellow sparkle gels for ketchup and mustard. To assemble, top cake bun with a brownie patty. Add toppings and finish with second cake bun.

Red, White and Blue Treat Pops

Makes about 12 Treat Pops

WHOOPIE PIE CAKES

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 egg whites

1 1/2 teaspoons imitation clear vanilla extract

2/3 cup milk

Filling

3 cups buttercream icing

Red icing color

Blue icing color

Patriotic mix sprinkles

Rocket Treat Pops Toppers

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare mini whoopie pie pan with vegetable pan spray. In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg whites and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. Alternately add flour mixture and milk in three additions, beating until just combined. Spoon one tablespoon batter into each cavity. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until tops of cakes spring back when touched. Cool in pan 3 minutes. Cool completely on cooling grid.

In separate small bowls, tint 1 cup buttercream red, 1 cup blue and reserve 1 cup white.

Place one cake in bottom of treat pop. Pipe a swirl of blue icing from back edge following the curve of the container to the front, then filling in the center; add sprinkles. Add second cake. Pipe a swirl of white icing; add sprinkles. Top with another cake. Pipe a swirl of red. Top with sprinkles or rocket toppers.

— Courtesy of Wilton Enterprises and Family Features

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