One of America’s Favorites – Chocolate Brownie

September 7, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 4 Comments
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A homemade chocolate brownie

A chocolate brownie or simply a brownie is a square or rectangular chocolate baked confection. Brownies come in a variety of forms and may be either fudgy or cakey, depending on their density. They may include nuts, frosting, cream cheese, chocolate chips, or other ingredients. A variation made with brown sugar and vanilla rather than chocolate in the batter is called a blond brownie or blondie. The brownie was developed in the United States at the end of the 19th century and popularized in the U.S. and Canada during the first half of the 20th century.

Brownies are a form of sheet cake. They are typically eaten by hand, often accompanied by milk, served warm with ice cream (a la mode), topped with whipped cream, or sprinkled with powdered sugar and fudge. In North America they are common homemade treats and they are also popular in restaurants and coffeehouses.

One legend about the creation of brownies is that of Bertha Palmer, a prominent Chicago socialite whose husband owned the Palmer House Hotel. In 1893 Palmer asked a pastry chef for a dessert suitable for ladies attending the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. She requested a cake-like confection smaller than a piece of cake that could be included in boxed lunches. The result was the Palmer House Brownie with walnuts and an apricot glaze. The modern Palmer House Hotel serves a dessert to patrons made from the same recipe. The name was given to the dessert sometime after 1893, but was not used by cook books or journals at the time.

Mixing melted butter with chocolate to make a chocolate brownie
The first-known printed use of the word “brownie” to describe a dessert appeared in the 1896 version of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer, in reference to molasses cakes baked individually in tin molds. However, Farmer’s brownies did not contain chocolate.

In 1899 the first-known recipe was published in Machias Cookbook. They were called “Brownie’s Food”. The recipe appears on page 23 in the cake section of the book. Marie Kelley from Whitewater, Wisconsin created the recipe.

Store-bought brownies

The earliest-known published recipes for a modern style chocolate brownie appeared in the Home Cookery (1904, Laconia, NH), Service Club Cook Book (1904, Chicago, IL), The Boston Globe (April 2, 1905 p. 34), and the 1906 edition of Farmer cookbook. These recipes produced a relatively mild and cake-like brownie.

By 1907 the brownie was well established in a recognizable form, appearing in Lowney’s Cook Book by Maria Willet Howard (published by Walter M. Lowney Company, Boston) as an adaptation of the Boston Cooking School recipe for a “Bangor Brownie”. It added an extra egg and an additional square of chocolate, creating a richer, fudgier dessert. The name “Bangor Brownie” appears to have been derived from the town of Bangor, Maine, which an apocryphal story states was the hometown of a housewife who created the original brownie recipe. Maine food educator and columnist Mildred Brown Schrumpf was the main proponent of the theory that brownies were invented in Bangor. While The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink (2007) refuted Schrumpf’s premise that “Bangor housewives” had created the brownie, citing the publication of a brownie recipe in a 1905 Fannie Farmer cookbook, in its second edition, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2013) said it had discovered evidence to support Schrumpf’s claim, in the form of several 1904 cookbooks that included a recipe for “Bangor Brownies”.

 

 

4 Comments »

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  1. Pretty cool to know the history of the yummy brownie!

    • I love reading the history of different foods.

  2. Oh my goodness! I love food history…. And specifically food history for brownies, haha! I was surprised to read that the Boston Globe was one of the first to publish the brownie recipe. I didn’t know that. I love all your recipes and photos trey look so scrumptious! Thank you

    • A lot comes from the WIKI Website. But the food and it’s history is things that cooks or people just don’t think about. Thank you for reading and your comment on my blog! 🙂


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