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Holidays have a way of sneaking up on a girl. July 4th, here you come!
On my list of favorite low-maintenance holidays, July 4th is up there. I eat my annual nitrate-free hot dog (once a year is just enough, really), drink a cocktail, and whip up some brownies. It’s the perfect meal!
I’ll never argue with a brownie in any form, but they’re at their best when giant chocolate chunks are nestled within. Oh, and when there’s a nice thick layer of glaze on top with sprinkles. Patriotic sprinkle bling, no less!
When I was a kid living in Indianapolis, we used to go to a living history museum called Conner Prairie on the 4th. It was a fun place, full of people pretending to be from days gone by in their houses without air conditioning. Even as a kid, I was pretty sure they had it rough in terms of work conditions. But to their credit, the actors seemed to enjoy themselves, never breaking character.
On Independence Day, the Indianapolis Symphony would play on a large field until sunset, at which point fireworks would go off. We’d be on our picnic blanket, eating Pringles and enjoying the show and feeling oh so very summer. Those warm, crowded nights full of music and laughter are such a happy memory now.
In DC, we don’t go to the National Mall for what is known as the Capitol Fourth. It’s a crazy mob scene and it’s just not worth the hassle. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of people jammed into small spaces to see the big show, and I don’t like crowds of that nature. Getting downtown is rough whether you take a Metro train or drive, so the upshot is that I watch it all on TV instead.
This year, Kenny wants to find a fireworks display in the suburbs, and part of me thinks that could be fun. The other part just wants to eat a hot dog, put the kids to bed, and watch the show on PBS under a blanket on the couch. I wonder who’s gonna win?
Either way, I have patriotic brownies to keep me company. If you’ve never had a brownie with vanilla glaze, you are missing out. The trick to making thick glaze is to use heavy cream rather than milk or, heaven forbid, water. That makes your glaze, well, watery.
I also love to put chocolate chunks in everything, but brownies in particular. The slight crunch is a wonderful contrast to the brownie, and adds another layer of fudgy goodness.
This July 4th, celebrate in the way that makes you happy and warm and fuzzy. It’s a great holiday, a time to appreciate our freedom and traditions. Why not express that with dessert?
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8 X 8 pan with foil and spray it with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix the cocoa into the melted butter until it dissolves. Add the sugar and stir again. When the sugar is incorporated, mix in the vanilla and eggs. Add the salt and flour, mixing until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
- Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until done. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- Make the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar and vanilla. Add the heavy cream slowly until the glaze reaches a spreadable consistency.
- Spread the glaze over the cooled brownies. Garnish with sprinkles. Allow the glaze to set.
- Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.