How to improve on a childhood classic? First, use real fruit. Second, spike those stripes. In her Boozy Bomb Pops, Hildie Haviland of the Detroit Pop Shop (a fixture at metro-area farmers markets) layers tangy yogurt with vanilla vodka-laced strawberry and blueberry purees.
Boozy Bomb Pops 
Our flaky hand pies taste just like their big sibs, but they're tidier to serve and eat, making them perfect for picnics and potlucks. Best of all, you get to choose the fruit filling: cherry, blueberry peach or plum!
Fruit Hand Pies 
A crisp shortbread crust holds orange pastry cream in this recipe from Allison Gnade and Thomas Agran of Burrowing Owl Bakery, who have established themselves as a fixture at Iowa City's downtown farmers market. They would scatter the berries casually on top, but we couldn't resist stripes.
Citrus-Berry Tart 
Tossing the cherries and blueberries with a little sugar draws out the juices. The sweet syrup is a perfect complement to the flaky, sconelike shortcakes. The dough for these shortcakes will be sticky. To easily cut out the star shapes, dip the cutter in flour between each cut.
When Kristin Rosenau (thepastryaffair.com ) discovered her lactose intolerance, she had to get creative in her Bismarck kitchen. The result: Desserts like Blueberry-Coconut Pavlova, a crispy-chewy pillow of meringue topped with whipped coconut milk and blueberry sauce.
Pour a syrup of honey, sugar and crystallized ginger over blueberries, watermelon, and strawberries, then top with a swirl of sweetened whipped cream and a fruit star for a pretty—and patriotic—finish.
Erin Mahoney's Cherry Almond Cake is the kind of towering, old-fashioned layer cake you expect to see wearing a blue ribbon at the state fair. The KC blogger (lemon-sugar.com ) relies on a boxed mix for fluffy texture but adds scads of sour cream, maraschinos and almond extract to make it her own.
Cherry Almond Cake 
Frosting for a cause? Sold. Chicago's Cupcakes for Courage food truck donates 10 percent of proceeds to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and other nonprofits. Their 50-plus flavors include this stunner, a White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake topped with a voluptuous swirl of worth-the-effort Swiss meringue buttercream.
Mildly nutty meringue cradles fresh berries in this classic dessert named for a ballerina. Use your favorite nut to flavor the meringue. Our Test Kitchen recommends pistachios, almonds or pecans. Any fruit works: blueberries, kiwi, bananas.
These sundaes are more than just another excuse to ride the Mason jar wave. There's genius under that screw-top, thanks to inspiration from Silver Lining Creamery in Rapid City. Bake the cake batter in the jars; pile ice cream, fudge and nuts on top; then stash them in the freezer to serve later. They're perfect for serving at outdoor parties in large silver tubs filled with ice.
Use a 2- to 3-inch star-shape cookie cutter to make stars from watermelon slices, then serve stars by themselves, on a platter with fruit and cheese, or in a dessert like our easy Red, White and Blue Parfaits. 
The bittersweet crumbles on these nutrient-packed parfaits are actually a gluten-free blend of nuts, dates and cocoa. That's because Alex and Sonja Overhiser have a particular soft spot for sweets with a better-for-you streak. At acouplecooks.com , the Indianapolis couple blogs about wholesome, mostly vegetarian cooking.
FrozBroz, an underground ice cream biz in Minneapolis, has a Wonka-meets-Robin Hood spirit. Every week, Ben Solberg and Erik Powers give away pints of wildly inventive new flavors like Toasted Grits with Maple Syrup or this scrumptious Jam 'n' Graham Buttermilk Ice Cream, rippled with strawberry jam and graham cracker piecrust crumbles.
The idea for these mosaiclike Yogurt-Berry Jelly squares (aka wiggly, jiggly bites of happiness) came from Faith Durand's cookbook Bakeless Sweets. The Columbus writer is executive editor of the massively popular website thekitchn.com  (and co-author of the new The Kitchn Cookbook).
A humble pie if you ever saw one, this unassuming potluck star has an almondy crust and a yogurt-based filling that mimics the acidic tang of a phosphate. Amaretti (Italian almond cookies) are available at large supermarkets. You can substitute graham cracker crumbs.
This sweet-salty bar cookie won the grand prize of $10,000 in our first annual Best of the Midwest® Recipe Contest. Judy Reynolds of Bloomington, Indiana, started with a Hoosier staple—popcorn—and stirred together these snack bars. Homemade caramel sauce makes them a standout.
Ingredients like fat-free Greek yogurt and low-calorie cranberry-raspberry drink—plus six cups of fresh berries—keep this delightful dessert on the light side. Garnish with mint sprigs or a lemon cream sauce.
If you're the kid who requested the corner slice of birthday cake (with roses!), these ultrasweet Double-Berry Sammies are for you. Crispy sugar cookies sandwich strawberry buttercream and blueberry jam. The recipe comes from Christy Augustin of St. Louis Pint Size Bakery and Coffee. (Yes, it's as tiny and cute as the name would indicate.)
Double-Berry Sammies 
A red, white and blue dessert stars at any patriotic potluck. Red velvet cake mix makes our moist and gooey Firecracker-Red Cupcakes extra easy to prepare.
The sweet coating complements salty, crunchy pretzel rods. Stand your edible sparklers in a container filled with coarse brown sugar or candy-coated milk chocolate candies (M&Ms). Change the color of the sprinkles and candies to suit the occasion!
Pretzel Sparklers 
Floral notes from lemon zest, thyme and honey round out the sweet-tart punch of ripe berries in this creation from Shelly Cross and Jill Long of Madison's Humble Sweet and Savory Pies bake shop. Shelly and Jill have some mad pastry skills; amateurs can get creative, too, with the extra dough.
Mixed Berry Slab Pie 
Transform vanilla cupcakes into a patriotic treat with a swirl of cream cheese frosting and a topping of fresh berries.
Easy Berry Cheesecakes 
Patriotic color bursts from strawberry ice cream, strawberry topping, whipped cream, cinnamon candies and fresh strawberries dipped in white chocolate and colored sugar. Add a star cookie cutout baked with a sprinkling of colored sugar (blue, of course).
Mix buttery pound cake, creamy vanilla pudding, soft cream cheese, and fresh strawberries or blueberries for a rich comfort-food dessert. To trim calories, try making it with angel food cake, fat-free pudding, and low-fat or fat-free cream cheese.
Berry Trifle 
Top your favorite homemade or purchased cupcakes with fresh berries just before serving for a supereasy festive dessert.