Saturday, July 6, 2013

Weekend Cooking...Patriotic Desserts

Ok, I am a little late for the 4th of July, but what can I say. I was too busy cutting out all those watermelon stars and poking my cake to write about it!

The idea for the patriotic poke cake I saw online somewhere recently and thought it just looks so festive. But I did not save the link, so I just googled it and went for a recipe from Cooks Country..which is an offshoot of my friends at America's Test Kitchen. It is a cake, that as the recipe says is "a Patriotic Poke Cake that screamed red, white, and blue all the way through."

Patriotic Poke Cake

  • 1 cup blueberries 
  • 2 tablespoons berry-flavored gelatin 
  • 1 1/4 cups water, divided 
  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided 
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled 
  • 2 tablespoon strawberry-flavored gelatin
  • 2 (9-inch) baked white cake rounds, cooled completely and still in pans
  • 4 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream or a container of Cool Whip


For the blueberry and strawberry syrups: Cook blueberries, 3/4 cup water, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium saucepan over medium-low heat, covered, until blueberries are softened, about 8 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl; discard solids.
Whisk berry-flavored gelatin into juices and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
Repeat cooking and straining using strawberries, remaining water, and remaining sugar. Whisk strawberry-flavored gelatin into juices and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

Using skewer, poke 25 holes in top of each totally cooled cake layer, twisting gently to form slightly larger holes. Pour cooled blueberry syrup over 1 cake layer. Repeat with cooled strawberry syrup and second layer cake. Cover cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate until gelatin is set, at least 3 or up to 24 hours. Run knife along interior of pans. Invert blueberry cake onto wire rack, then flip cake right side up onto serving platter. Spread 1 cup whipped cream over top. Invert strawberry cake and place, right side up, on whipped cream. Spread remaining whipped cream over top and sides of cake. Slice and serve.

I made a few changes, of course.
First of all, because I was busy and because I had one on the pantry shelf, I used a white boxed cake mix. I added just adding one extra ingredient to it, a cap full of fiori di sicilia. "In English, the Italian ""fiori di Sicilia"" translates as flower of Sicily. While this flavor is often described as a combination of vanilla and orange, it is actually a delightful floral extract...can be used in cakes, cookies and ice cream. In Italy it is used to flavor traditional panettone and other baked goods."
I love this stuff. As you can see I got mine from King Arthur and although it is expensive, a little goes a long way and it will last a long time.

And I used some frozen raspberries from my garden that I had in the freezer rather than strawberries and I used cherry Jello, because I had some. Then I used blue raspberry Jello for the blueberries. I took some fruit and Jello liberties, but it was all fine.
And I look the easy way out and "iced" it with Cool Whip, as every other recipe I saw did, rather than the real whipped cream Cook's Country used.
This cake was, I must say, delicious, light and fruity. You will forgive that photo of the cake. I was icing it as the folks were waiting for dessert and they were getting loud and I feared a revolt if I fussed with it.

For another dessert choice, I made a fruit salad of watermelon, fresh pineapple and blueberries.

But I gave it a festive 4th of July twist by cutting the watermelon into stars. I just cut the whole  melon into slices about 3/4" thick and then cut the stars out a cookie cutter. A little time consuming, but I was channeling my inner Martha Stewart.
And the result was so cute!

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Very cool, but I can see why it would take a while!

    1. oh, it was not that bad..perhaps I was being a little dramatic. besides, as you cut the fruit you get to eat some, especially all the extra bits, so that is not too hard.

  2. I love that fiori di Sicilia and always have some in the house; I use it instead of vanilla quite often. I admire your energy (poking cakes, cutting stars) and the results look just lovely.

  3. I had never heard of fiori di Scilia before this post. Where have I been?! This does look time consuming but I am picturing the looks at my in-laws house when we cut into this cake. I have to try this!

    1. the cake, especially with the cool whip, was not bad. make the syrups while the cake is baking or cooling and you are good to go.

  4. Both of your desserts look fantastic! I had no idea they make Jolly Rancher jello.

  5. Yummy, but I still have a moral objection to CoolWhip.

    1. I understand that, I really do, but in this case I actually think it was better than real whipped cream would have been.

  6. I love cool whip...can't help myself :P
    I made a poke cake once with pudding, I think, instead of jell-o. Pretty good stuff, that :)

    1. I think the nice, real fruit syrup took it up a notch..not that I ever made a poke cake before.

  7. Lovely desserts - I've never made a poke cake, but it looks delicious! Also, those watermelon stars are beyond adorable. Way to have fun with your food!

  8. My husband loves this dessert, I'm pinning this one.

  9. Great idea to make the watermelon stars! And the cake looks fabulous!

  10. What a festive 4th! The cake is so pretty and I love your watermelon stars!

    Joy's Book Blog

  11. I've got a large penguin cookie cutter that needs more use. Off to buy a watermelon . . . . . great idea, Caite! Oh, wait a minute. I just bought a cantaloupe. Hmmm, cantaloupe penguins. Yeah, works for me.

  12. Your family enjoyed the 4th of July Poke Cake!! Thanks for sharing it with us - it was delicious!!!

    1. you enjoyed it the first day, and I am enjoying the leftovers, cut in little slices and wrapped in the freezer.
      and my co-workers loved the leftover fruit!

  13. Ahhhh, next year I cut my melons into stars!


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