Pinterest Fresh watermelon stars dessert

Whether you have big 4th of July celebrations planned with your extended family and friends or you are just hoping to have some fun with those in your household, this holiday is a great excuse to make some brightly colored patriotic desserts everyone can enjoy.

While you might not be sharing those beautiful desserts with the entire neighborhood, you can still pull out all the stops and make an eye-catching dessert.

Red, white and blue cakes, pies, trifles, cookies and more are a favorite part of any Independence Day backyard barbecue. So it’s time to find some new recipes to add a little extra sweetness to cap off your hot dog or hamburger cookout.

Here are my favorite ideas for cakes, cookies and fruity desserts. For even more, visit our 4th of July board on Pinterest.

Cakes

Looking to add a little extra flair to your backyard party? A beautiful layer cake is one sure-fire way to capture the “oohs” and “ahhs” of everyone when you demonstrate your baking and decorating skills. Not quite a pro cake decorator? No worries! The newest naked cake trend is a perfect, classy dessert, especially if you have added some colors to the cake batter.

Try this Firecracker Cake. Mix up a white cake mix as directed on the box. In a small bowl place 1 cup of the batter and stir in 1 teaspoon of red food coloring until blended. In another small bowl mix another 1 cup of batter with 1 teaspoon blue food color. Pour red batter in the bottom of a Bundt cake pan. Layer with white batter and then top with blue. Bake 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. When cooled, decorate with red, white and blue frosting and sprinkles.

Cookies

Looking for a fun activity for your kids this weekend? Enlist their help in decorating some red, white and blue sugar cookies. Find your star and firework cookie cutters or grab that simple rectangle to let your kids recreate Old Glory with frosting and candies. Other cookie ideas include delicate red, white and blue French macarons or decorated chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.

One favorite, easy cookie idea is the mini fruit pizza. Make up a simple batch of large round or even star-shaped sugar cookies. Create a fluffy frosting made up of 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 cup of either whipped cream or Cool Whip. After frosting the cookies, top with a variety of prepared fresh fruit. Berries are perfect for a 4th of July theme.

Fruit

When it comes to a hot summer day, there is nothing more refreshingly sweet than a bowl of icy cold melon and berries topped with cream. Even a simple thick slice of watermelon makes for a perfect ending to a family 4th of July barbecue. This year try dressing up that bowl of fruit. Stuff large strawberries with cheesecake filling for a decadent treat. Or create “sparklers” by cutting watermelon into star shapes and skewering them with blueberries.

Or, try this recipe for a fruity, zesty 4th of July Fruit Salsa. In a large bowl, combine together 1 cup of diced strawberries, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup peeled and diced jicama, 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, the juice of 1 lime and salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and serve with either traditional tortilla chips or cinnamon-sugar topped chips.

— Jennifer Durrant