Everybody is doing something special for 4th of July! I used to do that, too. When I was still running the school, every summer in camp I did weekly International Food events. They were thinly disguised group therapy / team building sessions, but kids enjoyed themselves playing with food (I did mostly desserts!), in the process learning appropriate interactive social skills. Eventually they got to take some goodies home, if they haven’t eaten them before the end of the day. For Independence Day, we did Very Berry Fireworks, which were nothing much but skewered cut up strawberries, marshmallows, and blueberries – red, white, and blue – stuck in paper cups decorated with sticker stars and stripes. I have never pretended to be as good at arts and crafts, as Jessica of thishappymommy, who is simply amazing. Whatever I came up with, was mainly designed to train asocial kids to join a social milieu. Obviously, it was not enough for home. I needed something more substantial, while preserving the red, white, and blue motif.
I had some egg whites saved, so I thought, meringue is white – that’s a start! The next idea was, since tomorrow night we are walking to the beach (Ocean Drive is two short blocks from our house) to watch fireworks, I can make those meringue cookies look like ocean foam, to give them some local ambiance.
I whipped my egg whites until stiff, then gradually added sugar and vanilla. You can use xylitol, if you want. Make sure you add sugar little by little and keep whipping at high speed until all sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, I got my oven preheated to 220.
Using a rounded ice cream spoon, I dropped spoonfuls of the stiff white sugary mass onto a lightly misted with oil baking sheet and popped it in the oven. As I wanted to achieve the effect of ocean foam, I purposely kept random shapes.
While meringue cookies were baking, I worked on the foundation. Yes, I have realized from the beginning that some kind of a firm foundation was needed for what I intended to do later. So following My Own Rule of Desserts #1 (It’s not a dessert without chocolate), I dug up an old favorite recipe for whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.
Pretty basic stuff: whole wheat flour, sugar free chocolate chips or carob chips (whatever you prefer), a bit of baking powder. As usual, you would mix the dry ingredients first and put them aside.
Then I whisked the egg, oil, Smart Balance, vanilla extract, and brown sugar together. When all wet ingredients were well blended, I gradually introduced the dry ingredients. Chocolate chips came last.
When everything blended well, I used the same rounded ice cream spoon to drop cookie dough on a dry baking sheet. I remember just in time that these cookies are like old-times Odessa ladies; they tend to grow sideways, so I had to leave about 1 inch (2,5 cm) between them.
At this point my meringue cookies were jumping off the baking sheet, which meant that they were ready. I raised the temperature of the oven to 375 and popped the chocolate chip cookies in. These guys bake fast, about 10 – 12 minutes, until golden brown and hardened at the edges. A word of caution: the middle will still be soft, but not wet. It will harden while cooling.
While both sets of cookies were cooling, I prepared the rest of my supplies: raspberries, blueberries, and a bunch of toothpicks that I had painted red and blue (I know this is crazy, you don’t have to tell me!). Following My Own Rule of Desserts #2 (the more chocolate, the better!), I decided to use chocolate fudge frosting to hold this whole construction together. I think you can use peanut butter, if you like, but my husband is not a peanut butter guy. Chocolate is the word!
To assemble the pastry, you first need to connect “the foam” to the foundation. Spread just enough frosting on top of the chocolate chip cookie to keep them together and gently press the meringue cookie down on top of the frosting.
The time has come for starts and stripes, and for getting your kids involved, if you have any, of course. You can keep them occupied for a while by skewering blueberries and raspberries onto the painted toothpicks, one each on each toothpick, with raspberries as tips. Meanwhile, they might pop some berries into their mouths which is also not a bad idea!
Five berry skewers inserted into the frosting between two cookies form a star. Blue and red toothpicks are stripes. They burst from the cookies as fireworks burst in the sky. White ocean foam tops it all, and there you have it, beautiful people – scrumptious Fireworks on the Beach. Happy 4th of July!
The weather was great, and we just came back from watching – among a huge crowd! – fireworks on the beach. Steamy ocean, silky sand, palm trees, distant rhythms of salsa from Ocean Drive, and a spectacular fireworks display! That’s why we live on South Beach, beautiful people!
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar or xylitol
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Betty Crocker Recipes):
- 1 ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup Smart Balance, softened
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Dash of salt
- ¾ cup sugar free chocolate chips
- 1/2 pint raspberries
- 1/2 pint blueberries
- Chocolate fudge frosting
- Alternative: peanut butter
Make meringue first.
- Preheat oven to 220.
- Beat egg whites until very stiff.
- Gradually add sugar and keep beating until mixture forms peaks.
- Lightly mist baking sheet with oil, place round spoonfuls (ice cream spoon) on baking sheet about 1/2 inch (1 cm) apart.
- Bake on middle rack for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Check for doneness by gently pressing the middle. It should be dry to touch.
- Remove from oven and from baking sheet; cookies should come off easily. Cool them off completely before frosting.
Next, make chocolate chip cookies.
- Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat sugar, Smart Balance, olive oil, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
- On ungreased baking sheet, drop dough by rounded ice cream spoonfuls about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
- Bake 10 – 12 minutes or until very light golden brown (centers will be soft). Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.
Assembling the pastry:
- Prepare mini-skewers by either selecting blue and red toothpicks from among colored ones or painting plain toothpicks red and blue.
- Skewer one blueberry and one raspberry on each toothpick with raspberry as a tip.
- Insert five skewers into frosting between foundation and “foam” of each pastry, forming a “starburst” Make sure they are firmly embedded.