Fourth of July Brownies

Another July, another new academic year in my medical training. It's hard to believe that we've lived in Seattle for 2 years now, and I'm starting my final year of heme-onc fellowship. We had a quiet 4th of July weekend this year.  
After two years on break from COVID19, multiple areas around Seattle were resuming 4th of July festivities. We considered going to see some fireworks since we thought Isabelle might enjoy them.  
However, we found out the day before 4th of July that my brother tested positive for COVID19 (with horrible timing, as he had to cancel his flight the next day and missed out his entire weekend trip to see his friends).

While my brother's symptoms were mild, this made me nervous about crowds and the rising COVID19 cases so we cancelled our fireworks plans. Given my upcoming due date, I didn't want to risk COVID19 preventing B from coming with me to labor and delivery, or risking baby's health.
We invited our friends over and had a Korean BBQ 4th of July instead. While usually, I like to match Asian desserts with Asian cuisine, I couldn't pass up the chance to make an American flag dessert (see my American flag pie and my American flag fruit pizza cookie from prior years). I had some extra cream cheese frosting so used that as a topping, but whipped cream would work just as well.

Fourth of July Brownies

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
4 large eggs
1 cup oil
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup butter, softened 
4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 a package)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
strawberries, sliced

BROWNIES: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, water, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Let cool. 

TOPPING: For the cream cheese frosting, beat softened butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add powdered sugar until completely combined. Pipe cream cheese frosting and decorate with sliced strawberries and blueberries to make the American flag. Enjoy!

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