Stars & Stripes Sweet Dip with Shortbread

It’s the Fourth of July.

I know it’s actually the 2nd. But the Fourth of July is one of those holidays that gets a whole weekend. Some get a day, some get a break, this one gets a weekend.

What are you doing for the Fourth? Traveling? Cookouts? Blowing your yard to bits with fireworks?

Making a patriotic dessert?

Of course you are!

And how lucky that a holiday to celebrate the birth of our nation falls in a season ripe with berries that match our national colors.

This dessert is essentially three components: shortbread, berries, and cream. You can dress them up however you want to.

This was my first experiment with shortbread. Up til now I’ve pretty much only eaten shortbread during Girl Scout cookie season, but this recipe might change that. Rich, buttery, and delicately sweet, these little cookies will definitely be repeated.

A word on cutting the shortbread: it must be cut right out of the oven, so if you’re using cookie cutters, be prepared for them to get very hot. Better yet, if you have a cookie cutter with a plastic top edge, that will probably make the experience more pleasant. Learn from me and my over-heated fingertips.

Next is the creamy mixture. Basically whipped cream plus cream cheese. Hallelujah.

The berries then need a quick ride in a pot on the stove to juice and turn into something between a syrup and a jam. Completely irresistible.

I reeeeeally wanted these vertical stripes, but horizontal layers would probably be just as fun. Maybe in a tall, clear bowl?

Shortbread stars, and stripes of berry quick jam and cream-cheese enhanced whipped cream.

Now that is patriotic.

Happy 4th of July!

Stars & Stripes Sweet Dip with Shortbread

Adapted, barely, from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 c unsalted butter, melted & warm
5 T white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
sparkling sugar for sprinkling

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. While the butter is melting, grease a 10″ springform pan, tart pan, or pie plate and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir until thoroughly blended. Add flour and stir just until mixed. Spread dough evenly into greased pan with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Cover with a cloth and let rest for at least two hours.

Now is a great time to make the dip!

After the dough has rested, heat oven to 300 ºF. Remove cloth from pan with the shortbread dough and place pan in bottom half of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare a medium cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Remove shortbread pan to hot pads, but leave the oven on. Sprinkle shortbread with sparkling sugar and cut stars with cookie cutters, placing the stars on the parchment paper cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in the oven and cook shortbread for an additional 15 minutes. Once done, cool on a rack.

Once shortbread has cooled, serve with the dip below.

Sweet Berry Stripe Dip

2 1/2 c mix of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries (plus extra for serving)
1/3 c white sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 T powdered sugar
4-5 oz cream cheese, softened
1 T milk
1 T white sugar

For berries, combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Over medium-high heat, bring berries to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once berries begin to boil, cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat. Berries will now look more like jam, though there should still be some whole berries as well. Pour into a shallow dish and place in the fridge to cool.

In a standing mixer bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. (Secret, you just made whipped cream!) Transfer whipped cream to a small bowl and set aside. Add cream cheese, milk, and white sugar to the standing mixer bowl and whip until smooth and creamy. Add your freshly made whipped cream and combine with cream cheese mixture.

Prepare a piping bag with a large writing tip (I used Wilton #12) or, if your bag is disposable, simply snip off the end. Add cream mixture to the bag. Pipe stripes into 4 small ramekins that are about 1″ tall and 3/4″ wide. By this time, the berries should be cool. Carefully spoon the berries between the stripes of cream. Once berry mixture has been added, feel free to add more cream if needed. Place ramekins in the fridge until ready to serve.