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  • Writer's picturemaria5015

Where did the brownie originate from?

It is believed the delicious chocolate treat was born in the USA.

The first time a recipe was published was in the 20th century in a book called The 1896 Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer.

There are a number of legends as to how the brownie was invented. One is that a chef added melted chocolate by accident to a batch of biscuits. Another is a cook who didn't have enough flour whilst making a cake and ended up with a brownie. The most popular one is that of a homemaker making a chocolate cake but forgot to add baking powder. Her cake didn't rise so she cut the flat bake and served it.

There was an author called Palmer Cox who created a series of stories in 1879 called The Brownies who were Elf like characters. A tad scary if you ask me! What do you think?

There was another recipe appearing in a 1907 cook book called the Lowney's Cook Book Illustrated, by Maria Willet Howard. This recipe included adding an extra egg and an extra square of chocolate. She named the recipe 'Bangor Brownies' which gave people the idea that a housewife from Bangor invented them. It appears that it wasn't until the 1920's that brownies really started to become popular making it really difficult to identify their true inventor. It seems like they are an amalgamation of different influences and have evolved over time. If we look at the Bangor recipe below, we can see it's very different to the ones we see today:


1/4 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

3 squares chocolate

1/2 to to 3/4 cup flour

1 cup nut meats

1/4 teaspoon salt


Put all ingredients in bowl and beat until well mixed. Spread evenly in buttered baking pan. Bake and cut in strips.

Another legend that is spoken about alot is the Palmer House brownies. A socialite who lunched with her ladies and owned a hotel wanted the ladies to have a cake that could pack well into a lunch box.

Wherever they come from, they are amazing and there is clearly a reason why they are everywhere! They are so versatile and the right flavour combinations can result in a really delicious treat. The problem is, unless you've tried a really good brownie, the substandard ones found pre-packed in the shops are just not good enough.

Brownie preference is an individual choice, some prefer them really chewy, some cakey, some gooey and fudgy. I personally do not understand why you would like dense cake-like brownie, surely they then become a cake!

However you like to eat yours, I can give you some tips to look out for:

Look for a flaky top with a gooey middle. Look for brownies that don't contain vegetable oil, they don't need it! Brownies made with high cocoa dark chocolate will have a richer more intense flavour. Now all that's left is to enjoy!

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