wooden spoon

wooden spoon

I don’t know what your Fourth of July plans are, but at this point mine don’t look too typical. I usually march in the parade with my DAR sisters, enjoy a family or neighborhood barbecue and watch fireworks from afar.

No matter your plans, here’s a couple of celebratory recipes that will make an easy, timely holiday dessert.

A colorful red and blueberry crumble combined with a delicious, creamy homemade ice cream makes a flag-colored dessert.

It’s as easy as it is tasty—two reasons to love it.

The ice cream is exceptional as the vanilla bean takes the taste to a whole new level. It relies on two unexpected ingredients: corn starch (helps thickening) and cream cheese (to make scoopable). The slight hint of cream cheese ramps up the taste and, with the berry crumble, reminds me of frozen cheesecake. Hmmmm.

This takes a little planning since the ice cream needs to “cure” (4) hours before serving. While the crumble may be prepared ahead, it can be baked almost last minute. Plan on a little more than an hour to bake and at least 10 minutes to cool before serving.

Oh, feel free to serve store bought ice cream if homemade is not your bag.

VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM

2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1-1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (3 tablespoons)

1-1/4 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons milk with cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth. In a large saucepan, combine remaining milk with cream, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean and seeds. Bring milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until sugar dissolves and vanilla flavors milk, about (4) minutes. take off heat, remove vanilla pod and gradually whisk in cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until slightly thickened, about one minute. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in salt, set bowl in ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes. Strain into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. When done, pack into container, press plastic wrap directly onto surface and close with airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least four hours.

Note: if time allows, skip ice bath and cool mixture overnight in refrigerator. Works just as well and ice cream can be made next morning.

Calling for both white and brown sugars, I love the crumble’s slightly caramel taste. It pairs well with the berries.

PATRIOTIC BERRY CRUMBLE

5 cups mixed berries*

1-1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

zest from one lemon

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, optional

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9 x 9 inch baking pan, set aside. Wash berries, drain and pick through. If using strawberries, stem and cut into pieces roughly the size of the other berries for even cooking. Drain well, lightly pat dry and combine with 1/4 cup flour, sugar and lemon zest, set aside. Stir remaining flour with oats, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using) and salt. Spread berries evenly in pan, sprinkle oat mixture evenly on top and bake 65 to 70 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbling. Remove to wire rack and cool 10 minutes. Serve warm with above ice cream.

*use blueberries with strawberries or raspberries (or both) to make a red, white and blue combination. Frozen berries work well, too.

Have a splendid Fourth. Let’s keep ourselves safe, and pray to get past the current turmoil.

Longtime Valley resident Elaine Revelle can be reached at thewoodenspoon@juno.com

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