- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Patriotism is running high with the Fourth of July on the horizon. Flags wave from rooftops, poles, houses and cars. Hardware stores display flags with strings of twinkle lights in red, white and blue.

We even have plenty of fashion selections these days, as it seems every designer has in one way or another emblazoned Old Glory on jeans, shirts, underwear, purses and swimming suits.

When it comes to holiday decorating, we know that the enthusiasm of home cooks never flags, either. So we picked a dramatic dessert to be gussied up for Fourth of July picnics and parties. The recipe is artsy-craftsy and takes advantage of the abundance of one of our seasonal favorites: raspberries.

The top of this delicious dessert is the perfect blank canvas for kitchen artists. A big raspberry star stands in for the grand old flag, but you can also make circles or stripes with berries. And the dessert itself? Cheesecake with chocolate cookie crust couldn’t be richer or more fulfilling. If you’d prefer something easier than, or maybe an addition to, cheesecake, try fresh strawberries or watermelon. Even a simple vanilla ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce would be a perfect showstopping finish, if accompanied by the reds and blues of summer fruit.

Red, white and blue cheesecake with chocolate cookie crust

This star-centered favorite will be the star of the dessert table. For variety, make circles of berries instead of the star beginning at the center and working out, but be sure to brush the surface with syrup to help hold the berries in place. This is based on a recipe from Gourmet magazine.


28 chocolate wafers, ground fine in a blender or food processor (about 1½ cups crumbs)

1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted


4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1½ cups sugar

2 tablespoons flour

5 large eggs

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoons vanilla

Bottled raspberry or blueberry fruit syrup

About 1½ cups raspberries

About 1½ cups blueberries

In a bowl, stir together cookie crumbs and butter until mixture is combined well. Pat mixture onto bottom and ½ inch up the sides of a deep 9½-inch springform pan. Chill the crust for 30 minutes.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy; add sugar gradually, beating; and beat mixture until it is combined well. Beat in flour; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; and beat in sour cream, orange and lemon zests, salt and vanilla, beating the filling until it is combined well.

Pour filling into crust, and place cheesecake in a foil-lined shallow baking pan, which will give it stability and make it easier for you to handle. Place pan in middle of preheated 325-degree oven and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. (The cheesecake will not be completely set; it will set as it cools.) Turn oven off, and let cheesecake stand in oven with oven door propped open (use a wooden spoon) about 6 inches until cake is cooled completely.

Chill cheesecake, covered, overnight. When ready to decorate, remove side ring of pan. Or if you are taking it to a picnic or will carry it in the car, run a knife around the cake to loosen it. Remove side ring, wash it and put it back in place. Carefully remove it when you place cheesecake on the dessert table.

To decorate, make a star template first. Trace a 9-inch, 5-pointed star onto white paper, and cut it out. Place star on top of cheesecake, and trace the outline lightly with the point of a knife. Remove paper.

Brush a little bottled berry syrup over surface of cheesecake. This will help berries stay in place. Place raspberries at the tip of each point of the star and place one in the middle. Then fill in the star using the lines as a guide.

Place blueberries around rim of cheesecake. Now fill in the rest of the top of the cheesecake with blueberries, keeping them as close together as possible.

Makes about 12 servings.

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