Sometimes, even with the best intentions, you wind up giving your dad a gift that goes over like a golden turd.
Maybe it was a tool he already had. Or a gadget he never uses. Or a DVD box set of the first season of “Mad Men” that’s still shrink-wrapped next to the TV.
But not this year.
Because the recipe for a great Father’s Day is really simple. Give him a bear hug, a gift card to his favorite hardware store and something homemade.
Last year, I made my dad a batch of the NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies you see at the top of this post. Totally made up for the first two years of my dating career.
Here are some more ideas that might work for your dad. Or your baby-daddy. Or yourself, if you’re a dad, because it’s your day, and you deserve pork, sugar, butter and chocolate:
Sausage Balls. Nothing says “I love you” like spicy sausage, sharp cheddar and Bisquick. Crusty on the outside, moist inside, these things are addictive and disappear in less time than it takes to make them – which is only about 20 minutes.
Peppery Bacon and Cheddar Scones. These crazy-delicious buttermilk scones are loaded with chopped bacon, cheddar, green onions and freshly ground black pepper. They’re fantastic on their own, but you could also split them and add a scrambled or fried egg for a killer breakfast sandwich.
Is your dad a movie guy? Hook him up with some Caramel Peanut Popcorn. It’s like Cracker Jack, but every piece of popcorn is covered in sweet, buttery caramel, and you can actually find the peanuts!
Buttercrunch Toffee. Oh, man. Homemade toffee poured onto a layer of toasted almonds and topped with a layer of melted chocolate and more almonds. This will totally make your dad forget about that time you didn’t wait for your windshield to defrost and drove directly into a light pole.
Maple-Pecan Pie Squares. They’re easy to eat, like pecan tassies, but you get so much more filling. Sticky-buttery maple filling, which might be the best kind.
Banana Pudding. A thick, silky pudding topped with sliced bananas and a vanilla wafer crumble. So good, your dad might be OK with the time you snuck out of the house and got pulled over in your PJs.
Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake. Once you remove the first slice, an avalanche of sticky gooey crunchy goodness slides in to fill the gap. And it is HARD not to grab a spoon and start cleaning the plate a little. OK, a lot. You know what would take this completely over the top? Splitting the chocolate cake horizontally and adding a layer of marshmallow fluff. THAT’S the kind of thinking that makes my dad proud.
Kentucky Butter Cake isn’t fancy. It’s a delivery system for butter, sugar and rum extract, which means your dad will love it.
Chocolate Pudding Pie. A simple chocolate cookie crust filled with silky chocolate pudding topped with vanilla whipped cream and chocolate curls. Your dad will be glad he claimed you.
Edna Lewis’ Fresh Peach Cobbler. Seven sliced peaches sprinkled with sugar and swaddled in buttery pastry with … 1 1/2 sticks of butter. It’s blackout good.
This Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie looks like something you’d order in a restaurant, but each component is really simple – from the Oreo cookie crust and chocolate ganache to the tangy peanut butter-cream cheese filling and whipped cream. It’s a show-stopper.
Lemon Chess Pie. Sweet and old-fashioned. It’s like sunshine in a crust.
Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Pie. A buttery pie crust filled with cinnamon-spiked apples swaddled in Southern Comfort caramel and crowned with praline. Don’t forget the ice cream!
And, finally, these Fudgy Chocolate Brownies. Simple recipe, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Your dad will be thankful for the day he heard Maury Povich say, “You ARE the father!”
Fudgy Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook”
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides, so that you can pull the brownies out later. Set aside.
- Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water; stir frequently until chocolate and butter are melted, about 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat, and let it cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir the sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Whisk in vanilla. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour and salt.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.
- Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Using the parchment, lift the big brownie block out of the pan and onto the rack. Transfer to a cutting board; cut into 2-inch squares.
Nutty Chocolate Brownies Variation: After step 3, fold in 1.5 cups (4.5 ounces) walnut halves, finely chopped.
STORAGE: Brownies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.