Happy July 4th! How are you celebrating today? We have zero plans today (except staying inside in the air conditioning!) and then we’re heading to a get-together our church is putting on with bbq, games for kids and of course, fireworks! I will say fireworks are making me extremely nervous this year with the dry conditions and potential for fire but I’m just gonna try to relax and not freak out and tackle every little kid I see with a sparkler too near to grass. Hopefully I’ve done enough preaching to all my friends and family on Facebook. I’m sure they just loooooove me and my paranoid ways right now. Oh well!
Anyway, onto a more pleasant topic: CAKE. I love cake…cheesecake, ice cream cake, cake-cake, cupcakes, cheesecake-cakes…you get the point. And these patriotic cakes are perfect for July 4th, whether you’re celebrating today or this weekend.
My niece is a genius. Yes, she is one of the sharpest, brightest, most creative and beautiful little girls I know. But I’ve now confirmed she is a CULINARY genius as well. My sister-in-law, Rachel, had mentioned a loooong time ago that Joslyn misunderstood something she said once and mistakenly thought that she and Rachel were going to make red velvet funnel cakes, instead of cupcakes. Ummm, can you say brilliant?!? I immediately tucked the idea away in the back of my mind knowing one day I’d get around to it and I am so happy to finally announce that day has come!
Now I’ve only made funnel cakes once in my life when I was a kid and I seemed to remember it being fairly easy and so, so fun and most of all extremely YUMMY. The same can pretty much be said this time around but I must have forgotten how MESSY it was. Umm, yes, this was messy. I’m just going to be honest–get a funnel cake pitcher. There’s a reason they make these, people. Do not attempt to use a pastry bag fitted with a large tip (like I did) or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off. I basically had to hold my finger over the hole of the tip while Jeremy poured the batter into the pastry bag (it turned out to be a VERY loose batter) and then release it into the oil Don’t get me wrong…it worked. Oh it totally worked. But messy? Yes. And I HATE messy. As a matter of fact, you could probably even use an empty, clean ketchup bottle which I know a lot of people do for pancake batter, which has a very similar consistency and would be much more controllable. If only I had thought of that before…
Besides the messy factor, this red velvet funnel cake was super easy to mix up, required an absurd amount of red food dye (eek!) and was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS with a generous amount of powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream, homemade whipped cream and fresh blueberries. And if you want just a plain funnel cake but still want to be patriotic, just dye the basic recipe red or blue and voila! I think it is such a fun dessert for the 4th of July!
Powdered Sugar, Ice Cream, Blueberries, etc for topping
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. And the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until smooth. Add the red food dye until you have the red color you desire (I used about half of a 1 oz. bottle).
Pour the oil into a large skillet. Heat oil until a thermometer reaches at least 290 degrees (even though the original recipe called for 360 degrees, mine only ever got to 290 so I went with it and it worked). Release the batter into the oil while making a circular motion. Mine were pretty large, about 7-8 inches in diameter. Fry for about two minutes until it no longer looks raw. Using large tongs, grab the funnel cake in the middle (NOT the edges..they are crisp and could break) and gently turn over. Fry for one more minute and then place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up additional grease. Dust with a generous amount of powdered sugar and top with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries.
Makes 5 large funnel cakes.
Note: This is NOT a sweet funnel cake, which is why I recommend topping it with a generous amount of the powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream, etc...it pairs perfectly with those things.
July 4th is on a Wednesday this year. Middle of the week. No vacation days before. No vacation days after. I’m not liking it. Not one bit. Especially considering everyone in my office is taking off leaving me alone to man the phones and do what else? Hmmm, not sure. I’m predicting a lot of Words with Friends.
Since it’s going to be SO WEIRD to have July 4th in the middle of the workweek, I thought we could use something to get us into the patriotic spirit first thing that day! And that something are these fun star pastry pie turnovers. Made of puff pastry and cherry pie filling (store-bought or homemade) they are the perfect breakfast treat! I would actually liken them more to a turnover than a pie…flaky layers of buttery dough and ooey gooey cherry filling. My only frustration with these things was the amount of cherry pie filling I could fit into each star. I carefully placed four cherries in the middle of each and was able to just barely fit another star over the top and seal it shut. So it’s a little more puff pastry than filling but they are still quite delish.
1 Egg White + 1 T. Water, whisked together (for egg wash)
1 T. Coarse Sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)
Flour (for dusting)
Thaw puff pastry on kitchen counter for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold one sheet of puff pastry. (I did not roll it out any thinner, just unfolded and cut with my cookie cutter, but feel free to do so if you'd like...you might get a couple more turnovers that way.) Using a 5-inch star shaped cookie cutter (yes, you need a VERY large one), cut out four stars from the puff pastry sheet and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush egg wash onto edges of each star. Put one tablespoon of cherry pie filling (I literally picked out four cherries and placed in the middle of the stars..didn't want all that goo oozing out as it baked) in the middle of each star. Unfold the other puff pastry sheet and cut out four more stars. Place on top of the stars on the baking sheet. Crimp edges of the star with a fork to seal (I dipped the tines of the fork into the egg wash periodically). Brush egg wash onto the top of each star and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Using a sharp knife, cut a couple of small slits into the top of each star.
Bake for 20 minutes, until tops and bottoms are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely or eat warm.
Makes 4 star turnover.
*There is alot of leftover puff pastry scraps with this recipe. I used a small star cookie cutter and just did smaller star puff pastry bites. They need less time to cook, about 15 minutes.
Can I be honest? If I had the option, I’d make a different kind of ooey gooey butter cake every week. I am totally not joking. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. Who knows, if things got really crazy I might even make TWO different kinds in one week! I just love it so much. But that would bore you, wouldn’t it? I mean, you’d think “Wow, Sarah, seriously? What about cookies and pie and brownies??” Right? Oeey gooey butter cake 24/7?? Boring! And I definitely don’t want to bore you so I will refrain from indulging my ooey gooey butter cake obsession. For now.
I actually realized it’s been about a year since I have posted this recipe for Chocolate Ooey Gooey Butter Cake so I thought it was high time I make one. And man, it is such a struggle to make desserts for the 4th of July that are red, white and blue. Let’s face it, unless you go the totally unnatural red and blue dye route, what are you left with?? Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. That’s it! So I thought this cake might be a little different but still incorporate the patriotic tones of July 4th.
And bonus: this cake is AH-MAZING. It was all I could do to keep from eating the whole thing. Poor Jeremy is really cutting out sugar right now and proclaimed that he would be relinquishing his duties as my official taste-tester (I know, I know…how dare he?!!?), but he could not resist having a bite of this cake. It is so good. Whatever get-together you have coming up, take this and it will be gone in no time!
5 Drops Red Food Coloring (the cake mix was a bit dark and I wanted a bit brighter red)
Ooey Gooey Filling
1, 8 oz. Pkg Cream Cheese
2 Large Eggs
2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
3¾ c. Powdered Sugar
1 Stick Butter, melted
1 c. (11.5 oz.) Blueberry Spreadable Fruit (or jam/preserves)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combined the cake mix, egg, butter, vanilla and red food coloring and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly add in butter. Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Stir the blueberry spreadable fruit to get it loosened up and then drop by spoonfuls on top of the filling. Gently swirl the blueberry spreadable fruit with a knife into the filling.
Bake for 42-45 minutes until filling looks set and no longer wet or jiggly. Cool completely and cut into squares.