No-Hassle Hostess Gift

I don’t know about you, but I could never show up to a party empty-handed. It’s just not in my DNA.

A bottle of wine, a quick hors d’oeuvre, fancy olive oil — any thoughtful little thing will do.
If I’m bringing a something to nibble on, I like serving it on a tray or in a bowl that stays behind as part of the hostess gift.
(The gingham cuties shown here are from Target, and they’re $13.99 for the set. Plenty of time to run by and grab one before the weekend!)
Since Fourth of July parties typically take place around pools or in backyards, it’s best to bring un-fussy finger food, like chips and dip, great guacamole, bar cookies, or the best browies ever.
I found this recipe in Fine Cooking magazine a few years ago and I’ve never even considered another. Y’all are going to love it.
Double Chocolate Chunk Fudge Brownies
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into six pieces (more for the pan)
  • 2 ounces (2/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (chocolate chips work, too!)
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square Pyrex or metal baking pan. (I use the latter.)
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, add the cocoa. Whisk until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until blended. Add one egg and whisk until just blended. Whisk in vanilla and the second egg until just blended. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just blended. Add the chopped chocolate and stir to combine.
Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Scatter the nuts over the batter, if using. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with small, gooey clumps of brownie sticking to it (30-33 minutes). Don’t overbake or they won’t be fudgy!
Transfer to a baking rack and cool completely before cutting into squares.
If you bring these to a party, I promise you’ll be invited back!
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