Editor's Note: You may know Alexandra Penfold as Brownie from the popular blog Blondie and Brownie. She'll be stopping by weekly, digging up long-lost classic desserts and regional favorites.
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Growing up, there was one sure thing in our house during the summer; the oven did not go on until September. No exceptions. Consequently our family's Fourth of July festivities were capped off with a no-bake treat—sometimes it was an Americanized take on Zuppa Inglese (which I suppose is an American version of an Italian version of an English trifle, go figure) and sometimes it was a Jello-cream pie in a graham cracker shell. But it always was a dessert with a red, white, and blue motif.
Last year I revisited that tradition with a berry-topped seven layer Stars and Stripes Red Velvet Cake. Delicious and showy, but challenging on one of the hottest days of the summer in a barely air conditioned kitchen (maybe Mom was on to something after all...)
This year I'm all about the ease of the icebox cake. First popularized in the 1920s, these no-bake cakes are typically made by sandwiching whipped cream between layers of wafer cookies or ladyfingers. While it feels almost un-American to knock the traditional 'Nilla wafers, I've never been especially keen on them, so I was glad to discover Trader Joe's makes their own house brand "Ultimate Vanilla Wafers" flecked with Madagascar vanilla beans. Though the TJ wafers are more akin to a crisper butter cookie than 'Nillas, after a few hours chilling in the fridge that won't matter for the sake of your cake.
Decked out with strawberries, blueberries and plenty of fresh whipped cream, this is a picnic-perfect dessert for your Fourth of July celebration.
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