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« Leftovers? Make Pita Pizzas! | Main | In Search of Irish Brown Bread »

A Star-Spangled Fourth

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Our gas grill of more than ten years is on life support; so we’re getting a new Weber before the Fourth of July—we’ll be all fired up and ready to go for the holiday.

We’re keeping it simple with burgers and hot dogs, salads and chips. And for an All-American dessert, I’m baking up some puff pastry stars for a garnish. I’m not sure how I’ll use them yet, but here are some options:

  • Make parfaits from strawberries, blueberries and sweetened whipped cream or sweetened sour cream; add a jaunty star to top of each serving.
  • Make ice cream sundaes with strawberries and blueberries and finish each with a puff pastry star.
  • Make a strawberry or blueberry pie or crisp and scatter the top with puff pastry stars.
  • Stick a skewer through each star and plant them into a strawberry or blueberry cheesecake.

The stars are so easy to make and no matter what we end up serving for dessert next week, I’m assured that our sweet finale will be perfectly themed to the occasion.

Puff Pastry Stars
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from 17.3-ounce box), defrosted following package directions
Sanding sugar

Heat oven to 400° F. Unroll pastry sheet on lightly floured surface and roll to 1/8-inch thick. Cut star shapes, fitting as closely together as possible and lay on parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up the pastry.

Sprinkle liberally with sugar and bake until golden, about 10 to 15 minutes; watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove to rack and cool completely. Stars will stay crisp only for a few hours. If you don’t mind serving them soft (they’re still tasty), store in an airtight container up to a day.


  • Sanding sugar is extra-large, sparkly sugar crystals that will not melt in the oven. You can find sanding sugar in cake-decorating sections of craft stores, some gourmet cookware stores or online.
  • Use star cutters with sharp edges; this dough is elastic and will not cut as easily as cookie dough.
  • Make a variety of sizes for best effect.
  • Instead of rerolling scraps, that can make the dough tough, bake scraps separately to eat as a snack.
  • For savory stars, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. You could use these to garnish your Fourth of July crudité tray or a cheese board.

Here are some yummy side dish choices from the Special Fork recipe database and archives for your holiday barbecue:

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