These days, I think we take the brownie for granted. Ever since Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, and the like got it into their heads to package brownie mix, women everywhere have been ripping open boxes, adding a few staple ingredients and serving up these chocolately, cake-like treats in a flash. And they’re good but, they’re not homemade, which is what I’ve come to prefer in my old age.
Recently, a friend requested brownies for his birthday and it seemed cheap to just buy a box of mix and go about it in the usual, modern way. So began my quest to uncover the brownie’s history and find the first recipe so I could recreate it in my own kitchen.
Wikipedia says a chef at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel created the confection when the hotel’s owner requested a dessert that was like a piece of cake but smaller and could be easily eaten from boxed lunches. Nibble Magazine says the first brownie recipe was printing in the 1906 edition of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook, edited by Fannie Merritt Farmer.
The recipe I chose is similar to Fannie’s but comes from the “Cooking for Two” cookbook by Janet McKenzie Hill, published in 1909. Turns out, this recipe is quick, easy, and delightfully chocolatey. I made mine without nuts, as requested by my friend but if you like nuts, feel free to mix them in during the last step before baking. Here is the original recipe.
• ½ cup of butter
• Two 2 ounce squares of baking chocolate
• One cup of sugar
• Two eggs
• One teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon of salt
• ½ cup of flour
• One cup of pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Pour the mixture into a greased and floured 8 inch by 8 inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle of the brownie comes out clean.
Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan, then cut into squares with a sharp knife. Remove the square carefully with a fork onto waxed paper and leave cool.
These brownies are chocolate heaven! They’re so delicious, you’ll have no need to frost them. Enjoy!
Next blog post: A surefire way to get your family to eat carrots!