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Star-studded Fourth of July

Family Features | 6/29/2011, 5 p.m.

The Fourth of July calls for a carefree party, with good friends, fab food, fun and fireworks--a real star-studded holiday celebration.

The entertaining experts from Wilton have plenty of ideas to add star power to the occasion, beginning with the decorations. Festive stars and stripes napkin rings in red, white and blue dress up napkins and containers of colorful blossoms to brighten up the table. Then, on to the main course. Serve an all-American favorite meal of grilled burgers and corn on the cob, appropriately topped with a star-shaped pat of butter.

The grand finale is always part of this all-American celebration. Patriotic Pops cut into star shapes definitely say "Happy Fourth of July." Decorated in red, white and blue icing, red licorice and colored candies, these easy-to-make crispy rice treats are a favorite for both youngsters and the grown-ups. The kids can lend a hand to help decorate by placing the candy pieces on the stars.
Add a taste of nostalgia for the child in all of us with Ice Cream Sandwiches--everybody loves 'em.

Homemade brownies and buttery vanilla cookies, sandwiched with the ice cream flavor of your choice are a cut above ice cream truck offerings. The new ice cream sandwich pan from Wilton ensures perfectly shaped cookies for every treat. Give them the flair of the Fourth by rolling the edges in patriotic sprinkles and sugars. Or, dip part of the sandwich into melted candy melts and decorate with sprinkles for a fun and festive finish.

Even beverages can boast the star treatment. Star-shaped ice cube kabobs in the colors of the day are a celebratory way to keep lemonade icy cold. Or, they're perfect for chilling the holiday cocktail.

Visit www.wilton.com for more celebration ideas, to order decorating supplies, the Ice Cream Sandwich Pan or the Silicone Star Ice Kabob Molds.

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes about 12 ice cream sandwiches

Brownies:
1 cup--all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon--baking soda
1/4 teaspoon--salt
1/4 cup--(1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups--semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup--granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon--vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray Ice Cream Sandwich Pan with vegetable pan spray.

In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter with chocolate chips. Whisk in sugar, eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour mixture; stir until just combined. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into each pan cavity, spreading evenly.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted at an angle toward center comes out clean.

Immediately remove to cooling rack; cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

Vanilla Cookies:
1-1/2 cups--all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon--baking powder
1/4 teaspoon--salt
1/2 cup--(1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup--granulated sugar
1/4 cup--firmly-packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon--vanilla extract
1 teaspoon--lemon extract, orange extract or ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray Ice Cream Sandwich Pan with vegetable pan spray.

In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter.

Whisk in sugars, eggs, vanilla and, if desired, other extract or cinnamon; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix until blended. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into each pan cavity, spreading evenly.