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THE RECIPE BOX: Watermelon cupcakes a healthy Fourth of July treat

Festive watermelon “cupcakes” are made of fresh fruit and Cool Whip, and require absolutely no baking. (Staff Photo: Julie Wells)

Festive watermelon “cupcakes” are made of fresh fruit and Cool Whip, and require absolutely no baking. (Staff Photo: Julie Wells)

Our country’s birthday is just around the corner and, of course, in an effort to celebrate, I always try to find a red, white and blue recipe to run.

I found a recipe — no-bake watermelon cake — and I was eager to try it.

Three attempts later, I came up with my own version — no-bake watermelon cupcakes. Of course the main ingredient is watermelon, and Cool Whip and blueberries are the only other two ingredients I used.

I bet you are wondering what happened in my first attempts. I really wanted to make this festive dish with all natural ingredients. I know — what could be more natural than watermelon and blueberries? But it is the “icing” to the cupcakes that I wanted to make sure was fresh and not processed.

So I searched the internet and found several recipes that used coconut milk. I read the reviews and the what-not-to-do’s, but none of those tips seemed to help me when my refrigerated coconut milk would not separate.

You are supposed to refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight, and the milk and the cream part will separate. You can use the milk part for another recipe and use the cream to make whipped cream by adding ½ teaspoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of honey, and blending until the mixture thickens.

When I opened up the first can of coconut milk, I could tell it didn’t separate like it was supposed to, nor did the second can, but I tried it anyway, and well, let’s just say that didn’t work at all.

Since I had done all of that research, I knew there was a possibility that I would completely fail at the coconut icing, so I bought Cool Whip as a back-up. I’m glad I did.

I believe that most of the people who make the watermelon cake trim the rinds from the watermelon, so that the watermelon is formed into the shape of a “cake.”

That is all well and good, but I was already struggling with this whole recipe, and I knew from research that if you didn’t pat the watermelon dry enough, whether you were using the coconut icing or the Cool Whip, neither of the icings would stay on the sides of the cake.

I was one step ahead of this part of my cooking adventure; I had already decided that I would use some of our dessert rings — metal rings shaped in a “O,” used to help dress up a dish — and I would just make “cupcakes” and ice the top of the watermelon instead of the whole thing.

A cookie cutter would probably work just as well, if you’d rather not make a big cake. If you have a star-shaped cookie cutter, that would be a really cute idea. Also, an empty can would make do for a great O-shaped cupcake if you don’t have any dessert rings on hand.

Two last things. Be sure to pat dry your watermelon, and even place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to “ice” it. Use Cool Whip Light instead of regular Cool Whip.

There you have it — my red, white and blue cooking mishap and adventure.

No-bake watermelon cupcakes

Seedless watermelon

One container of Cool Whip Light

Blueberries

Trim all of the rind off of the seedless watermelon.

Using the dessert rings, cut out as many watermelon cupcakes as desired.

Pat the watermelon dry and place in the refrigerator until ready to “ice.”

Frost the watermelon cupcakes with the desired amount of Cool Whip, and place the blueberries on top of the Cool Whip.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tip: Used sliced almonds as another great topping.