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Red, White & Blue Icebox Cake

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Every other week, Anna Hezel talks about the innovations, decorations, and other quiet touches that make a party memorable.

Today: A patriotic Fourth of July dessert you can make ahead and pull out of the freezer just in time for the party.

I don't know about you, but I tend to have a real procrastination problem when it comes to party desserts. I get so swept up in the rest of the preparations that I wind up either frantically baking cookies in the last 45 minutes before the guests arrive or buying a few pints of ice cream and calling it a day.

As much as I wish that I were the sort of person, like my mother, who can produce a dozen strawberry rhubarb pies before 10:00AM, sometimes I need a simpler option; something festive and seasonal that I can make for a crowd without too much work the day of the party.

More: How to make an American flag cake for the Fourth of July (it's easier than you'd think).

So here you have it: a red velvet icebox cake that you can make ahead, pull out of your freezer when the time comes, cut into frosty little striped slices, and serve with a pile of the summer's best blueberries.

It all starts with thin, delicate layers of red velvet cake. In this recipe, which is a loose adaptation of Martha Stewart's ice cream sandwich cookies, a small amount of cake batter is spread out over a cookie sheet and baked briefly, yielding a soft, crisp-around-the-edges cookie-cake hybrid that only gets better as it absorbs moisture from the filling. The layers of red velvet are stacked with blankets of whipped cream, made slightly acidic by a tiny bit of cream cheese. Once the the cake has become firm in the freezer, a sharp knife yields perfect red-and-white striped slices.

Red Velvet Icebox Cake

Serves 10

1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar
30 drops of red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners sugar, divided
Blueberries for garnish

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Anna Hezel

Tags: Fourth of July, Bake, DIY Food, How-To & Diy, Outdoor Entertaining