Layers are the name of the game for desserts

Steph Ferguson

The Fourth of July makes for a great excuse to add some color to your plate. Take your barbecue to the next level this year. Use these layered desserts to showcase your red, white and blue spirit, and soon your guests will be seeing stars.

This patriotic trifle from the Food Network makes for a beautiful and lighter choice for a dessert. Try topping it with sparklers to add extra flare.

Mixed Berry Trifle

1/4 plus 2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 premade angel food cake, cut into 1-inch slices

1 pound light cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups heavy cream, room temperature

2 pints fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh raspberries

2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced

Heat 1/4 cup sugar, the lemon juice and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Brush both sides of each slice of cake with the syrup. Cut the slices into 1-inch cubes.

Beat the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and light. Add the cream and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and the consistency of whipped cream.

Arrange half of the cake cubes in the bottom of a 13-cup trifle dish. Sprinkle evenly with a layer of blueberries. Dollop half of the cream mixture over the blueberries and gently spread. Top with a layer of strawberries. Layer the remaining cake cubes on top of the strawberries, then sprinkle with more blueberries and top with the remaining cream mixture. 

Finish with the remaining strawberries and blueberries, arranging them in a decorative pattern. Cover and refrigerate one hour.

Have some calorie counters joining in the festivities? Not to worry. This layered parfait is sure to help them get their sweet tooth fix.

 Layered Parfait:

1 16-ounce carton of plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 8-ounce container light whipped dessert topping

6 cups fresh raspberries and strawberries

6 cups fresh blueberries

Stir together yogurt and almond extract. Fold in whipped topping. Alternate ingredients into individual clear glasses and chill. Makes 12 servings.