Category Archives: Fourth of July

Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches

Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesWhen I posted Flourless Chocolate Cookies a couple months ago, my first thought was “these would be perfect for ice cream sandwiches.” Short story shorter, I was right.

Like all the best ice cream sandwich cookies, Flourless Chocolate Cookies are fairly flat and aren’t too hard or too soft. They also have this lovely, crinkly brownie-like quality, and are super easy to make and naturally gluten-free. Like I said, perfect.Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches These cookies are on the sweeter side (confectioner’s sugar provides a lot of the structure), so I added a teaspoon of granulated espresso to the recipe to keep them from being cloying with ice cream. I also cut the size of the cookies in half for a dozen medium cookies instead of six large ones.

The assembly process begins by matching cookies, meaning determining which are the most compatible shapes. Mine all turned out fairly round, but there are always a couple that are a little oblong. Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesNext up, you’ll need to freeze the cookies for about 30 minutes. This helps the ice cream to stay on the solid side and the cookies from getting too soft during assembly. This step is not strictly necessary, but it is good insurance against ice cream sandwich frustration.Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesEasy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesRegarding ice cream, use whatever flavor you want. I went with a mid-level nationwide brand’s vanilla here and it was fine—good, even—but I will go higher quality next time. Oh, and I’ll probably go with mint chocolate chip because it’s my favorite. The point is to use what you love and not settle for less. Cookies are an important part of ice cream sandwiches, but ice cream is the *most* important part.

There are many ways of getting ice cream into ice cream sandwiches—slicing it, pressing it into molds, etc.—but I like to use the very easy and imprecise method of measuring out roughly 1/4 cup (1 small scoop) and lightly smashing it on a cookie.Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesEasy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesEasy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesFreeze the sandwiches before rolling them in your sprinkles of choice or chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips or candy bar pieces or crushed Oreos. Again, use what you love and don’t settle for less. <—good life advice? Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesThe last step is to freeze your ice cream sandwiches again for several hours or up to a day before digging in. Yes, you can eat them right after assembly, but the ice cream squidges out the sides and then you’re just eating two cookies with a translucent smear of ice cream and a weird smattering of sprinkles and then licking ice cream off a salad plate like a wild animal.

Maybe that’s just me.Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesAnyway, freezing the completed ice cream sandwiches for a few hours allows the ice cream to adhere to the cookies so that the sandwiches become single entities. That’s something I really care about with my ice cream sandwiches. Considering how much I loathe the patriarchy, I sure do love to be able to eat things in a ladylike manner.Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesI assure you, they’re worth the lengthy freezer time. The cookies never fully freeze, instead softening a tiny bit and getting extra chewy. And then there’s the ice cream and crunchy sprinkles. Like I said, perfect.Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches

Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches
makes 6 medium-large ice cream sandwiches

For cookies:
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch processed)
1 teaspoon granulated espresso
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large egg whites, room temperature

For assembly:
1 1/2-2 cups (about a pint) ice cream of choice
sprinkles of choice, optional
chopped nuts, optional
chopped candy bars, optional
crushed cookies, optional
miniature chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 325F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, espresso granules and salt. Add egg whites and whisk until smooth, glossy and a bit thick. If it seems dry during mixing, just keep going—it will get smooth. Let batter rest for 10 minutes–it will thicken slightly.

Drop batter in 1 tablespoon increments on the prepared baking sheet, making sure to leave them at least 3 inches apart. Bake 11-12 minutes, until puffed and crackly.

Let cool completely on their pan on a rack. Carefully peel parchment away from each cookie to release.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Place cooled cookies on the prepared pan and freeze for 30 minutes.

Assemble the ice cream sandwiches. Match cookies by shape and size so that you have six pairs. Turn 6 cookies upside down. Place 1/4-1/3 cup ice cream (roughly 1 small scoop) on each upside down cookie and use the back of the scoop to lightly smash it so that there’s a small perimeter (1/4-1/2 inch) of bare cookie all the way around. Top with one of the bare cookies. Smash down lightly with the heel of your hand to adhere. Freeze for 1 hour.

Place sprinkles (or other toppings of choice) in a shallow bowl(s). Working with one ice cream sandwich at a time, dip the edge into the sprinkles and carefully rotate the sandwich until the entire perimeter is covered. Use a clean finger to brush off any toppings stuck to the cookies. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Ice cream sandwiches may be enjoyed immediately, but will not stay intact. For the most “stable” results, freeze for 4 hours before serving. For longer storage, double-wrap each ice cream sandwich in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to a month.Easy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesEasy Gluten-Free Ice Cream SandwichesEasy Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeThere is just something about bundt cakes. They’re one of my absolute favorite things to bake—they’re low-maintenance crowd pleasers *and* I get to feel like the queen of the universe every time I get one to release cleanly from the pan. That kind of glory is hard to come by these days.Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeThis Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake is utterly spectacular, if I do say so myself. Lemon-scented and studded with a bevy of blueberries, it’s the perfect summertime cake. Oh, and it’s gorgeous too.Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeThe base is a sour cream spin on my favorite bundt cake formula. While that cake batter is rich and delicious, it’s not quite thick enough to suspend whole blueberries, leaving them all to sink to the bottom of the pan/top of the baked cake. The final product still tastes right, but if you’re going to make a blueberry cake, you want the blueberries strewn throughout, ya know?

By swapping the usual milk for sour cream, the batter becomes just thick enough to support the blueberries, and you also get a super velvety crumb out of the deal. #score The blueberries are also given support via a light dusting of dry ingredients before being folded into the batter. This “trick” allows a little bit of the leavener to react directly against the blueberries, helping them to stay buoyant instead of sinking.Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeAs for the lemon portion of this Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake, it’s as simple as rubbing zest into sugar to release those good lemony oils and finishing the cake with a simple lemon icing. Easy peasy.Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeBlueberry Lemon Bundt Cake is perfect for any summer occasion, including the Fourth of July. There’s no melting frosting or chocolate to worry about, and just about everyone loves the combination of blueberries and lemon.Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeI know a lot of us aren’t having or attending gatherings large enough to finish this cake in one go, so feel free to halve it and put it in a loaf pan. I, however, have never seen leftover cake as a problem.Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake
makes one 10-cup capacity bundt

Cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
zest of 1 medium lemon
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 pint fresh blueberries (about 12 ounces)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature

Icing:
1 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and use your fingertips to rub them together. Set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on the lowest setting for 20 seconds.

Remove 1/4 cup of the flour mixture to a small mixing bowl. Add blueberries and toss together. Set aside.

Add butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream to the flour mixture. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold floured blueberries (including any unincorporated flour) into batter.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cake cool completely. Cake may be made up to a day in advance; it will keep double-wrapped in plastic wrap.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, lemon juice and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more lemon juice by the teaspoon up to 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon); if it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar in 2 tablespoon increments. Pour over cake. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeBlueberry Lemon Bundt CakeBlueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Pimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits

Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsRemember those Cornmeal Biscuits I made earlier this year? They’re the perfect solution for when you can’t decide between biscuits and cornbread—the absolute best of both worlds! They’re super-tender too, thanks to the addition of naturally gluten-free cornmeal. If you haven’t checked them out, go do so, and then click back over here to see what happens when biscuits meet cornbread meets pimento cheese!

Hint: it’s this 👇 Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsFor those of you wondering what the heck pimento cheese is, it’s a creamy spread made of shredded cheddar, mayonnaise, sweet pimento peppers, and freshly-cracked black pepper. It’s incredibly popular in the southern U.S.—you’ll see it at every baby shower, cookout and picnic. You can buy the stuff in tubs in the grocery stores down there, but it’s next to impossible to find here, so I make my own and eat copious amounts with celery. You know, for balance 😉Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsHere, I’ve taken the basic ingredients of that southern staple (minus the mayo) and folded them into a batch of cornmeal biscuit dough. The results are cheesy, spicy, sweet-pepper studded magic!Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsThese are the cheese biscuits of my summertime dreams, and soon, yours. And those of your family and friends too, permitting you take a batch to your Fourth of July festivities tomorrow. You can serve them plain or with butter…Pimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits…but maybe crisp up some bacon and grab some tomatoes and arugula because these happen to make the best BLT on the planet.Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsCAN. NOT. BE. BEAT.Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsOh, and these aren’t pictured, but if you dice your leftover biscuits and sauté them in butter and olive oil, you’ll get some insane croutons. I ate these on salads for five days after I took these photos and I still want more.

You should probably go ahead and make a double batch.Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsHappy Fourth of July, y’all! If you’re looking for cookout appropriate beverages, see here and here. For snacks, here and here. And for dessert…here, here, here, here, and here.

Pimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits
makes about 14 biscuits

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2 4-ounce jars pimentos, well-drained and minced
2/3 cup buttermilk, very cold

For finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For serving:
butter
bacon, lettuce & tomato

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, black pepper, optional cayenne, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and use a pastry blender (or two forks or very clean fingertips) to break it down until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in cheddar and pimentos, followed by buttermilk. Dough will be soft.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and pat until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut biscuits. Make sure to cut directly down—do not twist. Place cut biscuits a couple of inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Chill dough/baking sheet if anything becomes too warm/sticky at anytime in this process.

Bake biscuits 12-15 minutes, or until puffy and golden. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.

Let biscuits cool until you can handle them. Serve with butter, or make yourself a BLT, if desired.

Pimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits

Cheesecake Blondies

Cheesecake BlondiesI have been debating for three days whether or not I should post these Cheesecake Blondies or use Independence Day as a “free pass” to take a rare blog day off.Cheesecake BlondiesCheesecake Blondies won out though, because they are the perfect treat to sink your teeth into while you watch the fireworks. Creamy cheesecake and chewy brown butter blondie in near-equal layers? Sign. me. up.Cheesecake BlondiesAnother great thing about these blondies? They are super easy to make and bake up in just 25 minutes!Cheesecake BlondiesThe most difficult part of making Cheesecake Blondies is waiting for them to chill. Those three hours can seem eternal, but they are completely necessary—nobody likes warm cheesecake.Cheesecake BlondiesOnce the chill time is up, slice up the blondies and revel in their cuteness. Chocolate chips have a way of making things more adorable, don’t they?Cheesecake BlondiesMake a batch of Cheesecake Blondies for your holiday cookout or pack a box into a cooler and take them on the go! You and your friends and family will love the combination of tangy cheesecake and sweet, brown buttery blondie ❤ Cheesecake BlondiesHappy Fourth of July!Cheesecake Blondies

Cheesecake Blondies
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan, about 9-16 blondies

Blondie Batter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips + more for scattering

Cheesecake:
8 ounces (1 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with foil and grease lightly. Set aside.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl.

Add brown sugar to the brown butter and stir to combine. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula to stir in flour and salt, scraping down the bowl as needed. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Set aside.

Make cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Pour on top of blondie batter and smooth to the edges of the pan. Scatter additional chocolate chips over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, tenting with foil at the 15 minute mark or if anything begins browning too quickly. Blondies are ready when the cheesecake just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Let cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until completely cold.

Use foil overhang to lift blondies out of the pan. Carefully peel off foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve.

Leftover Cheesecake Blondies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. For best storage, separate layers with wax paper.Cheesecake Blondies

Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Red, White & Blueberry CakeThe Fourth of July is just a few days away, y’all! While you may be thinking about vacation or grilling or how to keep your dog safe during the fireworks, I am over here thinking about–what else–cake! Red, White & Blueberry Cake, to be specific. Yes, a layer cake that is loaded with strawberries, blueberries, and tons of whipped cream. It showcases some peak summer produce and looks pretty patriotic, too! This is my kind of Independence Day dessert.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeThe cake itself if a classic white cake. I used my Vanilla Layer Cake as a starting point, manipulating the recipe until I had a light, fluffy result. The most significant change is that there are no whole eggs in the recipe; if there were, the cake wouldn’t be white! Only egg whites are used here. They are whipped to the point where they hold stiff peaks before being folded into the batter. The air in the whipped egg whites, along with a hefty dose of baking powder and sifted dry ingredients, will keep the resulting cake light and airy.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeWhile the egg whites give the cake tons of structure, their complete lack of fat has the potential to dry it out. I did a few things to counteract this:

  • I reduced the flour. Egg whites provide tons of structure in baked goods, so I was confident that cutting a bit of the flour wouldn’t affect the cake’s ability to bake properly.
  • I used butter and oil. I wanted this cake to have a buttery flavor, but as butter is 15% water, I was concerned that the results could be dry. This recipe requires 3/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil, like vegetable or canola oil. This small amount of oil keeps the cakes nice and moist.
  • I used a combination of regular milk and sour cream in place of buttermilk. Sour cream’s thick texture and fat content keep this cake super moist. Also, as it has been “soured,” when combined with milk, it mimics the tenderizing qualities of buttermilk.

But enough about the chemistry of cake batter. This white cake is crazy delicious–soft, buttery, and flavored with vanilla and almond extracts (you can leave the almond extract out if you have a tree nut allergy). It would be spectacular with a little vanilla buttercream, but that’s not the direction we’re going in today.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeInstead of frosting this cake with buttercream, we’re using Whipped Cream Frosting! It’s a lot like regular whipped cream, except that it won’t weep or slouch after an hour or two. Many recipes for Whipped Cream Frosting require gelatin, but I don’t care for the texture it produces. Instead, our whipped cream is stabilized with sour cream. This adjustment allows for the whipped cream to hold up for days! Just beat some heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form, and then use a handheld whisk to incorporate the sour cream until you achieve stiff peaks. Don’t be tempted to add the sour cream all at once–this will deflate your whipped cream. Instead, add it by the spoonful. This sounds tedious, but it really doesn’t take long at all.

For those of you who do not care for the flavor of sour cream, know that I don’t either. Its flavor here is very subtle, especially when combined with the white cake and berries. If you really don’t wish to use it, you may substitute creme fraiche or cream cheese.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeRed, White & Blueberry CakeRed, White & Blueberry CakeTo assemble the cake, slice both baked layers equatorially so that you have four very thin layers. If the idea of slicing a cake layer in half intimidates you, just know that they don’t have to be perfect–mine certainly were not! Just do your best. Lay one cut-side up on a serving plate (or a cake round, if you are me and can’t fit a serving plate in your fridge). Top the layer with some sliced strawberries and a few tablespoons of blueberries before spreading whipped cream frosting over the top. It may seem illogical to put the fruit directly on the cake, but it allows the berries’ juices to soak into the cake instead of breaking down the whipped cream. This is just insurance that your leftovers won’t get gross in the refrigerator. Repeat the layering process two more times before placing your last thin layer cut-side down. Use the rest of the whipped cream to frost the cake. I went for the naked cake look, but you may do whatever you like. Make sure to decorate with more berries!

Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Sliced 15 minutes after assembly.

Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Sliced after chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Red, White & Blueberry Cake may be served immediately after assembly, but know that the whipped cream frosting may squish out the sides a bit. This doesn’t bother me one bit, but know that a couple hours in the refrigerator will help the cake stay more intact.

Look at that! Cake, berries, whipped cream, and a little patriotic flair. Add fireworks and you’re in for a great Fourth of July.Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Red, White & Blueberry Cake
makes 1 9″ round layer cake

To Grease the Pans:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (not skim or fat-free)
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg whites, room temperature

Whipped Cream Frosting:
3 cups heavy cream, cold
4-6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream

For Assembly:
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and flour. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer to the entire insides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sift together four times. Do not skip this step. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, sour cream, and milk. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean, dry medium-large mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment on an electric mixer to beat egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Do not over mix. Set aside.

Fold dry ingredients into wet in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Carefully fold half the whipped egg whites into the batter, followed by the other half.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Lightly tap each pan on the counter a couple of times just to help any large air bubbles dissipate. Bake for 32-37 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge of the pans and inverting the layers onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.

Make the whipped cream frosting. Combine heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat mixture until soft peaks form. Switch to use a hand whisk. Add sour cream by the spoonful, whipping until stiff peaks form.

Slice cake layers in half equatorially. Lay one cut-side up on a serving dish or cake round. Top with about 1/3 of the strawberry slices and 3-4 tablespoons blueberries. Drop large spoonfuls of whipped cream over the top and spread them out with an offset icing spatula. Repeat this process two more times. Place the last layer on the top cut-side down. Frost and decorate with berries as desired. Serve or refrigerate immediately.

Leftover cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Red, White & Blueberry Cake