Five Desserts Perfect for the Fourth of July

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I'm going to go out on a limb and say you don't want to see another red-white-and-blue cake, cupcake or pie recipe. Am I right? While it's fun to make that striped cake with buttercream frosting, strawberries and blueberries, it gets old after a while. Who are we kidding? It gets old after the first time.

So after you've grilled burgers and hot dogs, smoked your brisket all day long and cut into that juicy watermelon, you'll need something sweet to eat. Here are five desserts to make on the Fourth of July -- no American flag cakes here.

5. Miniature Hand Pies Be patriotic and cut out the pie dough in the shapes of stars, or you stick to the traditional semi-circle hand pies, or turnovers. Fill each piece of dough with apple slices, sugar-tossed strawberries, blackberries or blueberries, or pitted cherries. Make them small enough for everyone to try a few flavors. And of course, you must serve them with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on the side. It's the American way.

4. Grilled Banana Split You've already got the grill going, so why not caramelize some sliced bananas before adding to a bowl of ice cream? Coat the sliced bananas in a cinnamon-sugar blend, then stick them on the griddle over direct low heat. Once the bananas are sticky and caramelized, place them in an ice cream sundae bowl and top with the rest of the goodies: ice cream, chocolate sauce, butterscotch sauce, sprinkles, chocolate chips, crushed nuts, whipped cream and a cherry. Go big or go home.

3. Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches It doesn't get more American than a chocolate chip cookie. While a glass of milk usually serves as the perfect complement, so does a giant scoop of ice cream. Bake classic Toll House chocolate chip cookies, then cut out round-shaped molds of ice cream to squish between two chocolate chippers. Enhance the cookie flavor with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, or add a peanut butter chocolate swirl to the sandwich. Classic vanilla is never a bad choice. Gently press the ice cream between the cookies, then serve immediately, or prepare them in advance and leave in the freezer to harden.

2. Banana Pudding Ronnie Killen knows what pairs well with barbecue -- banana pudding. The simple combination of banana pudding with Nilla wafers and marshmallows is a match-made in heaven. If you must, you can top yours with a sweet meringue. But, if you want to do it right, pile on the mini marshmallows to create a crispy, golden and sticky crust.

1.Grilled Fruit & Cream The beauty of this dessert is that you can use literally whatever fruit you want. Slice up a juicy, sweet pineapple, brush with butter, cinnamon and sugar, then stick the rings onto direct low heat; place slices of plums, apples, oranges, nectarines, peaches and strawberries on skewers, then grill until slightly charred. Serve the grilled fruit with sweet mascarpone cream, thick whipped cream or an icy sorbet.

Bonus: Use your grilled fruit to enhance a sangria. Rather than mixing in plain, sliced fruit, add grilled oranges, apples and plums to incorporate caramelized sweetness.

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