Blueberries add color to summer desserts

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

The fruits of summer are ripening and right now fresh blueberries are abundant. Lexie and I, along with two of my sisters, went blueberry picking at Iller's Berry Farm last Saturday. Yes, it was really hot, which reminded us of the arrival of summer. We did have a little breeze at the top of the hill, which made picking a little more bearable.

We were picking along side of Hannah and Finley Maddox, and I marveled at her stories of her 104-year-old father, T.J. Langwell. Mr. Langwell used to be a "regular" at the Senior Center, but has not been able to come for a couple of years, and how we do miss him. Even at age 100 he was able to recall dates and names of people as though it were yesterday. Personally, I have to stop and think about what I did and who I talked to last week. So, though it is one week late, happy 104th birthday, Mr. Langwell.

When we went to pay for the berries we picked, there were several recipes available on the counter. I picked up a few and would like to share some of those with you.

The one recipe that seems to be the most popular is their Blueberry Pudding Cake. The woman who waited on us told us everyone always gives this dessert excellent ratings. I am going to give it a try and see for myself. And if you have not gotten any fresh blueberries this year, I encourage you to do so. They are so sweet and tasty this year.

Blueberry Pudding Cake

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Topping: 3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup boiling water

Toss the blueberries with cinnamon and lemon juice; place in a greased 8-inch square-baking dish. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder; stir in milk and butter. Spoon over berries. Combine sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over batter. Slowly pour boiling water over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake tests done.

We have all seen the popular pretzel dessert recipe, usually made with strawberries. This version using blueberries is perfect for the fresh crop.

Blueberry Pretzel Dessert

Crust: 2 cups pretzels, crushed

3/4 cup melted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

Second layer: 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 (8 ounce) carton whipped topping, thawed

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Topping: 4 cups blueberries

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 pat margarine

Mix together pretzels, margarine and sugar. Spread into bottom of a 9-by-13-inch-baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven; cool. Combine second layer ingredients and blend until well blended and fluffy. Spread onto cooled crust layer. For the topping, bring to a boil the blueberries and the water. Add sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and margarine.

Stir until thickened. Spread over chilled filling layer.

Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake

Oat crunch topping: 1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked

1/2 cup dry lemon cake mix

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 stick margarine or butter, melted

For the coffee cake: Remaining lemon cake mix

1/2 pint (1 cup) low-fat sour cream

1/4 cup water

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon peel

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Combine the oat crunch topping ingredients; stir well; set aside. Combine the coffee cake ingredients, except for blueberries, in a large bowl. Beat 3 minutes. Fold in berries. Pour into a greased or sprayed 9-by-13-inch-baking pan. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. At this point, crumble the topping ingredients over cake; bake an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Cut into squares to serve.

Jodi Thompson of Jackson, Mo., has several really cute ideas for Independence Day desserts. These would make great projects for children to do, just be sure to help with the mixing and baking part of each recipe.

Easy Flag Cake for 4th of July

2 pints fresh strawberries

1 recipe of your favorite white or yellow cake, (mix or from scratch, your choice)

1 1/3 cup blueberries

1 (8 ounce) carton whipped topping

Prepare and bake your favorite cake mix or recipe, using a 9-by-13-inch-baking pan. Let cool. Slice 1 cup strawberries, set aside. Halve remaining strawberries, set aside. Top cake (in pan) with 1 cup sliced strawberries, 1 cup blueberries and all of the whipped topping. Arrange remaining strawberry halves and blueberries on whipped topping to create a flag design, using the blueberries as the stars and the strawberry halves as the red stripes.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Yields 12 servings.

Independence Day Tarts

Ingredients for one: 1 single-serving sponge cake

Whipped topping

Sliced strawberries


Wash the berries and slice the strawberries. Put the cake on a small plate and spread whipped topping on it. Arrange the strawberries, then the blueberries. Add more topping and then enjoy.

Firecracker Cakes

Move oven rack to the lowest position; take out top rack. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease bottoms and sides of 4 empty 26-oz. soup cans; line the bottom of each can with greased wax paper. Use foil collars for added height. To make foil collars, fold lengths of foil in half and fit around cans to extend about 2 inches above tops; tie securely with cord.

Make a 2-layer cake mix according to package directions or you may use a made-from-scratch 2-layer recipe. Fill cans about two-thirds full of batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes, or until the cake tests done with a cake tester. Cool cakes slightly, then loosen them, remove the cans, and peel off the paper. Cool cakes, then trim the tops to resemble candles or the point of a rocket.

Decorator Frosting: 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup non-dairy creamer

1/4 cup Crisco shortening

5 cups confectioner's sugar

Red food coloring

Mix frosting ingredients into a large mixer bowl and beat 3 minutes at medium speed, then 5 minutes at high speed. Add more sugar to thicken frosting as needed. Frost tops of cakes with frosting. Color remaining frosting red with red food coloring. Frost the sides of each cake. Use bits of tinsel rope for sparklers.

This next recipe is just very similar to the previous one, but you could just use 1 cupcake and make individual ones. A piece of licorice could be used for the wick of the firecracker in either recipe.

Firecracker Cupcakes

Bake cake mix in paper baking cups as directed on the package. Remove the baking papers. Prepare a white frosting, using homemade or frosting mix. To form each firecracker, put two cupcakes together end-to-end with frosting.

Frost sides, leaving ends of firecrackers (tops of cupcakes) unfrosted.

Sprinkle generously with red decorators' sugar before frosting sets.

Decorate each with a red candle stuck into one end. Makes 12 to 15 firecrackers.

If you are like me you will want to get that holiday shopping done early, thus the reason for sharing Independence Day recipes with you this week.

Have a terrific week and happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699; Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

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