4th of July Treats

Summer is upon us and it is glorious! The sun is shining, people are out and about and one of the best holidays is right around the corner. 4TH OF JULY! Living in Huntington Beach we are able to see the largest parade west of the Mississippi right in our front yard, the beach is practically a sardine can and the fireworks off the coast are a perfect ending to a fun-filled day.

I decided to test out 4 recipes for the 4th. Below you will find some pictures and the links that will help you re-create these delicious treats. They are all great to bring to parties and easy enough to whip up on the Wednesday night before the holiday!

First up is a classic red velvet cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting. I used Preppy Kitchen’s Red Velvet Cake Recipe and it made 24 cupcakes perfectly. They had cute 4th of July cupcake liners at Albertsons so that was an easy way to make these look extra festive.

Thoughts: I love Preppy Kitchen’s cake recipes, but I am not a huge fan of red velvet. If you like red velvet then these will be delicious. They are a perfectly moist three-bite treat that are easy to make and display.

Price: I spent $2.50 on the liners and $3.50 on buttermilk. If you are starting from scratch and need to buy everything from the flour to the baking soda this will cost you quite a bit.

Second was a no-bake cheesecake with fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce. I got the recipe for the no-bake cheesecake from Sugar Spun Run and improvised for the topping.

Topping Recipe: I washed and cut the tops off of 2 pounds of strawberries. I set aside 16 strawberries for the whole ones seen on top. I chopped the remaining strawberries into smaller 1/4 inch pieces and threw them into a little pan on the stovetop. I also added 1/3 cup sugar and the juice of a whole lemon. Let that cook down for about 15 to 20 minutes, mashing the strawberry chunks as they get softer. After the 15-20 minutes of cooking I removed from the heat and put into a bowl and chilled it in the fridge for about an hour. DO NOT add the strawberries and jam until you are about to serve.

Thoughts: This was a REALLY easy recipe IF you have the basics, especially a hand-held or stationary mixer and a spring form pan. The crust was amazing, a little thicker and did not require a bake either. The cheese cake mixture was very easy to mix up: add cream cheese and whip, add sour cream and whip, add vanilla and lemon and whip. Then work on your whipped cream and combine. Let sit for 4 hours to up to a day!

Price: Pricier. I had to buy everything from the cream cheese to the graham crackers. I spent about $24.00 making this cheesecake. In the grand scheme of things isn’t too bad considering you would pay double or triple that at Cheese Cake Factory. But not something you just whip up on a whim.

Third, I made your classic Rice Krispie treats with a fun spin. While strolling through Target, just casually spending more money than I have, I stumbled across a special edition box of red, white and blue Rice Krispies. I bought a box and a bag of mini marshmallows and I was set!

Recipe: In a large sauce pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the whole bag of marshmallows (I bought a standard 16 oz bag) and stir until completely melted. Turn off your burner and add your Rice Krispies in. I usually eye ball it but to give you an idea I used about 6-7 cups. Immediately pour the mixture onto a flat surface covered in parchment paper. Use another slip of parchment paper to help push down into a flat 1-inch thick slab, I didn’t do mine perfectly rectangular because you are going to chop it up later. I put mine in the fridge so they would harden up and that made cutting them way easier. To cut I used a cookie cutter for the outline and used a knife to cut into the slab of Rice Krispie treat. If you don’t have a star cookie cutter you can just use a piece of paper cut into a star shape for a stencil. There were a lot of little scraps left over so you can either toss those or if they find a way into your mouth you won’t be upset. This made about 15 stars!

Thoughts: YUM! I could eat a bowl of Rice Krispie treats hot off the stove top with a spoon. So, these were obviously just as delicious as always. They took a bit more work to cut into stars but easy enough for how festive they come out.

Price: Cheap! Box of Rice Krispies was $4 and the bag of mini marshmallows was $1.99. I had butter at home which is your only other ingredient.

And finally, for the fourth treat I made a classic shortbread with strawberry jam in the center.

Recipe: Mix 1 cup of unsalted room temperature butter with 1/4 cup of granulated sugar until smooth. Add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla mix until combined. Then add in 2 and 1/4 cup flour and mix until the dough comes together. The dough will be very dense. Next, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll dough into 1-inch balls. After they have been balled you need to push your finger down into the middle of the ball. It will flatten out a bit but you should get a little bowl which is where the jelly will go after you freeze. Place the balls in the freezer for about 30 mins to an hour, this will prevent spreading and allow the walls of that bowl to hold so there isn’t jam everywhere. Remove from the freezer and add little dollops of jam into the centers of each cookie. I wouldn’t be too overly cautious but if you do over fill then you will have spill over. When they are all filled you can bake in a 350 degree pre-heated over for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottoms start to look a little bit golden (they won’t look too much different from when you started but don’t go overboard or they will be dry and crumbly). Cool for 30 minutes before trying to stack. This made 36 cookies!

Thoughts: Easy and SO scrumptious. Kyle and I each ate 4 last night, whoops. Took about an hour and a half with the freezing and cooling included. They are easy to travel with and are low-maintenance, meaning they don’t need to be refrigerated or stored in a cool place. Make them!

Price: Cheap! All I had to buy was the jelly, which cost me $2.99.

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