Throw an Independence Day Dessert Spectacular

Doesn't it seem like just last week that we were all nibbling on burgers and dogs at Memorial Day cookouts? All of a sudden, it's July -- which means it's time for the first big holiday weekend of the official summer season.

If all of your friends beat you to the punch on sending out 4th of July cookout invitations, don't despair: there's still time (and room on your pals' social calendars) for an Independence Day Dessert Spectacular!

Coordinate with your dinner host to have the party move over to your place for sweets and cocktails after the big fireworks show. Your friend will thank you for sharing hosting duties, and your guests will love your spread of American classics -- with a twist, of course.

Apple Crumble Pie
The quintessential American pie. Skip the fussy lattice crust in favor of a rustic crumble topping -- you'll be out of the kitchen faster, and did we already mention crumble topping? Anyone who would choose a top crust over a struesel obviously hates deliciousness -- and probably freedom and liberty too.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie
There are few things more American than pie, pumpkin, and Martha Stewart -- so, how to combine these three into one firecracker of a dessert? Martha's Pumpkin Whoppie Pies: fluffy pumpkin cookies sandwiched around sweet cream cheese filling. Now that's a good thing.

Peanut Butter Balls
With Americans consuming an average 3 pounds per person each year, peanut butter ranks high on our list of treasured national eats. Add some chocolate, crank up the sugar content, and you've got a bonafide American dessert on your hands. Melt the chocolate in the microwave to keep your kitchen totally cool with this no-bake treat.

Jell-O Shooters
In some parts of the country (no fingers pointing at my Southern homeland) it's hard to imagine a summer get-together without a wobbly Jell-O concoction. But please forget the patriotic striped desserts -- we'll celebrate independence with multi-hued Jell-O shots instead! Too much work? Not enough fridge space? The apple pie shooter knows no season, and is just as awesome in July as it is in November.

Also, please -- for the love of all things Jell-O -- leave out the fresh fruit the recipe calls for. It only took me one oyster shooter to realize that a shot you have to chew is not, as Martha would say, a good thing.

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