Celebrate red, white and blue

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This delicious dessert will brighten your Fourth of July parties. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times
This delicious dessert will brighten your Fourth of July parties. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

Throughout my youth, my family always got together to eat hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, potato salad and baked beans on the Fourth of July. After dinner, the aunts, uncles and cousins would sit around and visit until it was time to see the fireworks.

I grew up near Parkwood Mall, so we were close to the action. The older family members usually stayed behind to get a glimpse of the fireworks from our front porch. But the rest of us would walk the few blocks to the mall to sit with half of Wilson County and see the fireworks display that was shot off from the field behind Vinson-Bynum Elementary School. These are traditions that Reggie and I repeated with our own children.

Our family’s July Fourth party always included a seasonal sweet dessert or perhaps a juicy watermelon from Daddy’s garden at the Boykin homeplace in Rock Ridge. Sometimes we had blueberry cobbler or made peach ice cream if the fruit was ripe at local orchards that have since closed.

With my own children, and now my granddaughter, we usually make a cake. The children always helped spread the white frosting and place strawberries and blueberries in a flag design. Other times, I’ve make parfaits with red cherry Jell-O layered with blueberries and Cool Whip.

It’s always fun to see how other families mark holidays. A few days ago, I saw a pretty layered dessert on the Kraft website, Myfoodandfamily.com. The trifle was displayed in individual clear cups and featured layers of cubed pound cake, a creamy filling made from an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and a 7-ounce jar of marshmallow creme, and assorted red and blue berries.

At first, I planned to make that trifle, but then I remembered a favorite family recipe, strawberry delight, made with angel food cake and strawberries. It’s a recipe from my friend and former co-worker Heather Wilkerson that I’ve included before in my food column. My family loves this recipe, so I decided that’s what I wanted to make for my layered, July Fourth dessert.

Strawberry delight is simple enough to make. Just mix a block of cream cheese with a little sugar, then milk, and fold in Cool Whip. Tear or cut a prepared angel food cake into cubes and stir it all together. For the dessert I usually make, I would then pour the mixture into a glass pan, spread on some Cool Whip and top it with a layer of sliced strawberries.

But for the July 4 dessert, I layered the cream cheese and cake mixture with fresh berries into 9-ounce, clear plastic cups.

The result is a pretty and delicious dessert to star in your Fourth of July celebration.

For an added festive touch, I decorated each trifle with shiny stars on a wooden pick.

Heather’s Strawberry Delight

1 angel food cake, store bought or homemade

8 oz. package cream cheese (reduced-fat works fine)

1⁄2 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup milk

12 oz. tub of whipped topping

1 quart of strawberries (for layered trifles, use a quart of strawberries and around a pint of blueberries)

In a large bowl, soften the cream. Add sugar and milk. Mix well. Fold in 3⁄4 of the whipped topping. Cut chunks of angel food cake and add to mixture. Combine well.

Spread in a 9X13-inch pan. Spread the remaining whipped topping on top. Slice strawberries and arrange on top of whipped topping.

For trifle: Add a scoop of cake mixture in dessert dishes or plastic cups. (I used 9-ounce, clear plastic cups.) Top with several berries to make a layer. Add a spoonful of Cool Whip. Repeat with cake mixture and berries. Once you’ve done one or two, you’ll have a better idea of how much of each layer to add. I made 9 cups.

For best results, refrigerate several hours before serving.

Strawberry delight by Heather Wilkerson