Hungry History: Chocolate Brownies

Hungry History: Chocolate Brownies


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The Elements of Chocolate

The Brownie Chronicles

Brownies today contain everything imaginable, from Chambord-soaked dried cherries to candied coffee beans and everything in between. Prices of some “gourmet” brownies start at $50.00 a dozen.

The plain, wonderful chocolate brownie, as we know and love it, probably came from the creativity of Fannie Merritt Farmer when she drastically reduced the flour in one of her chocolate cookie recipes.

History of Brownies

There was a recipe called, “Brownies” in the 1896, Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, but Fannie Merritt Farmer’s recipe contained molasses and nuts--no chocolate. In the 1906 revision of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, Fannie Farmer did have a chocolate brownie, which was very close to her 1896 chocolate cookie recipe with a greatly reduced amount of flour.

Maria Willett Howard, who had been trained by Fannie Farmer, added an egg to the Fannie Farmer recipe to create The Lowney Chocolate Company brownies. According to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith says that the two-egg Lowney’s Brownies was the recipe most often reprinted in New England community cookbooks before 1912.

The other popular early (by 1912) recipe was the "Bangor Brownies," with 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 3 squares unsweetened chocolate, 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup nut meats, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Hang Onto a Good Thing

It was startling to me how little this great all-American recipe has changed through the years. Two of our modern recipes (Nick Malgieri’s famous Supernatural Brownies, a current recipe and Sara Risch’s recipe out of the Sixties) are similar to that early Lowney’s brownie recipe. It may appear that Nick’s has twice as much chocolate however unsweetened chocolate has about twice as much chocolate as semisweet/ bittersweet so the recipes are close. For sugar, Nick uses half dark brown sugar for that wonderful fudgy taste.

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

Bake all at 350° for about 25 minutes

Your Perfect Brownie

Some want a cake-like brownie, while others love a fudge-like brownie. Some like a firm brownie others want a softer brownie. Some like a crust on a brownie, others do not want a crust. Brownies can have a fudgy taste or a plain chocolate taste. Again some like them one way and some the other.

Cake-Like or Fudge-Like

Remember that the brownie was literally created by drastically reducing the amount of flour in a chocolate cookie. So, the ratio of flour to the other ingredients is a big deal with brownies.
The difference between fudgy and cakey brownies is the difference in the ratio of fat and chocolate to flour.

The 75th Anniversary Edition of Joy of Cooking estimates a range of fat and chocolate from 1 1/2 cups of butter and 5 oz unsweetened chocolate to 2 tablespoons butter and 2 oz unsweetened chocolate for 1 cup of flour.

For fudgy brownies use less flour, for cakey brownies, more flour.

Much Depends on the Chocolate

There are many chocolate choices, more now than ever: unsweetened, semisweet/ bittersweet, sweet chocolate (like German’s), high-percentage chocolates, and natural and Dutch process cocoa. We will see below that cocoa is a necessity for a softer brownie whose primary fat is butter.

My daughter, Terry Infantino, who helps me test recipes, adores Robert Steinberg’s “Fudgy Brownies” in The Essence of Chocolate. They are made with a large amount of his 70% Schaffen Berger bittersweet chocolate. His recipe contains the usual 1/2 cup flour, and 2 eggs. His amount of sugar (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) is only 2 tablespoons less than the basic recipe. It is the chocolate that makes a difference in his brownies.

A chocolate that I love to use even though I don’t like flavored chocolate is Green & Black’s Maya Gold.

My husband’s absolute favorite brownies were made by Dena Daugherty, a friend who owned an Atlanta bakery that specialized in brownies, and made hundreds of pounds of brownies a week for restaurants and restaurant chains. Dena used quality commercial brands of both semisweet and sweet chocolate in her outstanding brownies.

Firm Brownie or Softer Brownie

If a brownie contains chocolate, it will have cocoa butter, which is firm when cold. If the brownie contains cocoa, it will have much less cocoa butter than chocolate and will contain butter as its primary fat. Since firm butter is softer when cool than firm cocoa butter, cocoa brownies will be softer than chocolate brownies.
Alice Medrich also points out that cocoa brownies have more granular sugar since they don’t have super finely-ground sugar like the sugar in chocolate. And, she feels this granular sugar gives them a crunchier crust.

Brown Sugar

In addition to different chocolates for different flavors, many years ago Marcel Desaulniers, another chocolate expert, taught me that brown sugar (a touch of molasses) gave chocolate dishes a fudgy taste.

Brownie Techniques

Crust or No Crust

Whether brownies, or even some cakes and pound cakes, have a crust on top depends on how much you beat the batter after the eggs are added. The more you beat, the more crust you get. If you beat vigorously with a mixer, you can get a dramatic crust. Depending on how much you beat, this crust can be barely noticeable or a crisp, shiny crust that is totally puffed, and separated above the cake or brownie. It is also usually lighter in color. The color and shine are especially noticeable on brownies.

This is a meringue-like crust and is actually caused by a “meringue.” Your beating of the batter after the eggs are added creates it. This seems not to be widely known even among chocolate experts.

Other Techniques

Alice Medrich, our Queen of Chocolate, has explored many techniques in her search for magnificent brownies:

Allowing the Batter to Mellow Before Baking

Alice will sometimes prepare the brownies, place them in the pan, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or for 2 or 3 days to allow the flavors to meld.

High-Temperature Baking

Most brownies are baked at 325°F/163°C to 350°F/177°C. Alice wants a crisp outside and gooey inside, so she bakes for about half the normal baking time at a higher temperature 400°F/204°C and, then, instantly cools the brownies by placing the brownie pan on ice in a larger pan.

Cutting Brownies

Many brownie experts prefer to wrap complete cooled brownies well and refrigerate or leave at room temperature overnight and, then, place them on a cutting board and cut into individual pieces. Most think that they cut easier this way. Brownies keep best individually wrapped.


Taste The Palmer House Brownies For A Bit Of Chicago History

The Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel is one of Chicago's grande dames of hospitality.

Food is always a part of travel because it helps define a place fine dining and exquisite wines in France, beer and sausages in Germany, pasta and gelato in Italy. Food is a link to the culture and history of a place and its people.

The same thing is true in Chicago, where tourists know to check out its steakhouses, hot dogs and deep-dish pizza. The steakhouses are a link to Chicago’s Union Stockyards, where in the early 1900s, more meat was processed than anywhere else in the world. The historical development of hot dogs and pizza is more circuitous than the steakhouses, but the origin stories point to the city’s immigrants.

But few travelers, and only some locals, are aware that one food item famous the world over was invented in Chicago: chocolate brownies.

The brownies are made from the same recipe created in 1893.

Nearly as iconic an American dessert as the chocolate-chip cookie, the brownie was created in 1893 at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago’s Loop. And there’s a lot more history involved than just the fact of a long-ago recipe being developed in the city.

But let’s talk first about the brownie itself. It’s still being made, from the same 1893 recipe, at the hotel now known as Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel, one of the grande dames of the city’s hospitality industry. In 2017 the hotel served nearly four tons of the brownies.

It’s easy to see why. The brownies are sweet and rich, fudgy and topped with walnuts and an apricot glaze. “Decadent” is trite, but so true.

Brownies came into being because socialite and philanthropist Bertha Palmer was head of the Board of Lady Managers for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. She directed Palmer House pastry chefs to come up with a recipe for a dessert that would be easy to transport in boxed lunches at the Women’s Pavilion.

The desserts were a hit, but they weren’t called brownies. The first mentions of brownies in American cookbooks don’t come until several years later.

But the dessert she had created was a part of one of the most important events in Chicago history, the Columbian Exposition, held to celebrate the 400 th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World, and to showcase Chicago’s recovery from the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

The world’s fair is famous for the introduction of many things the first Ferris wheel, the world’s first moving walkways, Juicy Fruit gum and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. It impacted the city’s architecture, urban planning, commerce, parkland and image on the world stage. The fair ended two days after Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr. was assassinated, and a public memorial service was held instead of the closing ceremonies. Some of the buildings remain and much of the city’s history can be linked to the fair.

Chicago visitors can taste a little bit of that history by stopping by the Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel at 17 E. Monroe St. The brownie is served at both restaurants in the hotel, Potter’s Chicago Burger Bar or Lockwood, with ice cream for $9.

For a taste of Chicago history, stop by the hotel for an individually packed brownie.

But you don’t have to dine in. The hotel sells individual boxed brownies, tied with a Palmer House ribbon, for $5. Just ask for one at the Lockwood bar or host stand.

It makes a terrific Chicago souvenir if you can manage to get it home before eating it.


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Hungry Howie’s locations are franchised to independent owners and operators by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. located at 30300 Stephenson Highway, Suite 200, Madison Heights, Michigan 48071 (248) 414-3300. Stores located in the State of Florida are franchised by HH Pizza, Inc. located at 2109 -D Main Street, Dunedin, Florida, 34698 (727) 734-8800.

If you are having trouble using this website with a screen reader or other device or you need help ordering online due to a disability, you may also call (314) 732-4586 or your local Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

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Mix & Match: Must select 2 valid Mix & Match options to receive discount. Use promo code “PICK2” for Mix & Match offer. Additional toppings extra. Limited time offer. Prices subject to change. All stores are independently owned and operated. Prices and participation may vary. If you have online ordering issues, visit hungryhowies.com/help. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance. Pepsi, the Pepsi logo and related marks are trademarks of PepsiCo.

Mix & Match: Additional charges may apply for Howie Wings® and Stuffed, 3 Cheeser or Deep Dish 3 Cheeser Howie Bread®. All stores are independently owned and operated. Prices and participation may vary. Prices subject to change without notice. Additional toppings, delivery and tax extra. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

Meal Deals: Prices and participation may vary. Prices subject to change without notice. Additional toppings, delivery and tax extra.

*If you are hired, you are an employee of the franchisee who owns the store and not Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. or HH Pizza, Inc. Your pay, hours, work conditions, benefits and other terms and conditions of hiring or employment are not established by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. or HH Pizza, Inc. Job descriptions are meant only as a general description. Actual job duties and responsibilities may vary. If you have any questions about your employment, please directly contact the local independently owned and operated Hungry Howie’s Pizza® franchise.

Hungry Howie’s and its related marks are trademarks of Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. Pepsi, the Pepsi logo and related marks are trademarks of PepsiCo.

Hungry Howie’s locations are franchised to independent owners and operators by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. located at 30300 Stephenson Highway, Suite 200, Madison Heights, Michigan 48071 (248) 414-3300. Stores located in the State of Florida are franchised by HH Pizza, Inc. located at 2109 -D Main Street, Dunedin, Florida, 34698 (727) 734-8800. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

If you are having trouble using this website with a screen reader or other device or you need help ordering online due to a disability, you may also call (314) 732-4586 or your local Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

Mix & Match: Additional charges may apply for Howie Wings® and Stuffed, 3 Cheeser or Deep Dish 3 Cheeser Howie Bread®. All stores are independently owned and operated. Prices and participation may vary. Prices subject to change without notice. Additional toppings, delivery and tax extra. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

*If you are hired, you are an employee of the franchisee who owns the store and not Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. or HH Pizza, Inc. Your pay, hours, work conditions, benefits and other terms and conditions of hiring or employment are not established by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. or HH Pizza, Inc. Job descriptions are meant only as a general description. Actual job duties and responsibilities may vary. If you have any questions about your employment, please directly contact the local independently owned and operated Hungry Howie’s Pizza® franchise.

All stores are independently owned and operated. Prices and participation may vary. If you have online ordering issues, visit hungryhowies.com/help. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance. Pepsi, the Pepsi logo and related marks are trademarks of PepsiCo.

©2020 Hungry Howie Pizza & Subs, Inc. All rights reserved. Hungry Howie’s® and its related marks are trademarks of Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. Use of the trademarks in the State of Florida are under license to HH Pizza, Inc.

Hungry Howie’s locations are franchised to independent owners and operators by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. located at 30300 Stephenson Highway, Suite 200, Madison Heights, Michigan 48071 (248) 414-3300. Stores located in the State of Florida are franchised by HH Pizza, Inc. located at 2109 -D Main Street, Dunedin, Florida, 34698 (727) 734-8800.

If you are having trouble using this website with a screen reader or other device or you need help ordering online due to a disability, you may also call (314) 732-4586 or your local Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

Mix & Match: Additional charges may apply for Howie Wings® and Stuffed, 3 Cheeser or Deep Dish 3 Cheeser Howie Bread®. All stores are independently owned and operated. Prices and participation may vary. Prices subject to change without notice. Additional toppings, delivery and tax extra. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

*If you are hired, you are an employee of the franchisee who owns the store and not Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. or HH Pizza, Inc. Your pay, hours, work conditions, benefits and other terms and conditions of hiring or employment are not established by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. or HH Pizza, Inc. Job descriptions are meant only as a general description. Actual job duties and responsibilities may vary. If you have any questions about your employment, please directly contact the local independently owned and operated Hungry Howie’s Pizza® franchise.

All stores are independently owned and operated. Prices and participation may vary. If you have online ordering issues, visit hungryhowies.com/help. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance. Pepsi, the Pepsi logo and related marks are trademarks of PepsiCo.

©2020 Hungry Howie Pizza & Subs, Inc. All rights reserved. Hungry Howie’s® and its related marks are trademarks of Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. Use of the trademarks in the State of Florida are under license to HH Pizza, Inc.

Hungry Howie’s locations are franchised to independent owners and operators by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. located at 30300 Stephenson Highway, Suite 200, Madison Heights, Michigan 48071 (248) 414-3300. Stores located in the State of Florida are franchised by HH Pizza, Inc. located at 2109 -D Main Street, Dunedin, Florida, 34698 (727) 734-8800.

If you are having trouble using this website with a screen reader or other device or you need help ordering online due to a disability, you may also call (314) 732-4586 or your local Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

Mix & Match: Additional charges may apply for Howie Wings® and Stuffed, 3 Cheeser or Deep Dish 3 Cheeser Howie Bread®. All stores are independently owned and operated. Prices and participation may vary. Prices subject to change without notice. Additional toppings, delivery and tax extra. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.

*If you are hired, you are an employee of the franchisee who owns the store and not Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. or HH Pizza, Inc. Your pay, hours, work conditions, benefits and other terms and conditions of hiring or employment are not established by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. or HH Pizza, Inc. Job descriptions are meant only as a general description. Actual job duties and responsibilities may vary. If you have any questions about your employment, please directly contact the local independently owned and operated Hungry Howie’s Pizza® franchise.

All stores are independently owned and operated. Prices and participation may vary. If you have online ordering issues, visit hungryhowies.com/help. If you need help ordering online due to a disability, please contact your Hungry Howie’s store for assistance. Pepsi, the Pepsi logo and related marks are trademarks of PepsiCo.

©2020 Hungry Howie Pizza & Subs, Inc. All rights reserved. Hungry Howie’s® and its related marks are trademarks of Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. Use of the trademarks in the State of Florida are under license to HH Pizza, Inc.

Hungry Howie’s locations are franchised to independent owners and operators by Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs, Inc. located at 30300 Stephenson Highway, Suite 200, Madison Heights, Michigan 48071 (248) 414-3300. Stores located in the State of Florida are franchised by HH Pizza, Inc. located at 2109 -D Main Street, Dunedin, Florida, 34698 (727) 734-8800.

If you are having trouble using this website with a screen reader or other device or you need help ordering online due to a disability, you may also call (314) 732-4586 or your local Hungry Howie’s store for assistance.


July 4th Picnic Box

What could be better than Brownies & BBQ on the 4th of July!? We’ve got you covered with a dozen Hungry Monkey Triple Chocolate Brownies AND a bottle of Old Arthur’s BBQ Sauce, wrapped in two cloth red & white napkins to get you ready for a picnic celebration!

We’ve partnered with our friends at Old Arthur’s BBQ Sauce not only so we can support a friend’s small, family-owned, business, but also because their sauce is THE BEST SAUCE ON THE PLANET! We’re also honored to be able to share their incredible legacy in Old Arthur’s story from stoking the fires as a 6-year-old slave to being emancipated at 28 and supporting his family doing BBQs across the region, perfecting his sauce until his passing at 108. Rich and tangy with a hint of hickory and just the right amount of kick, it enhances the flavor of pork, beef, chicken, and fish. This zesty sauce is bold in flavor and meant for the true barbecue enthusiast! Its versatility is exceptional and its flavor will make every dish unique!

Fun fact: Both Hungry Monkey Triple Chocolate Brownies and Old Arthur’s BBQ sauce are LOVED by Howie Mandel!! Each box includes 2.4 pounds of devilishly decadent brownies, a 20 oz bottle of BBQ Sauce, and two cloth 20” x 20” checkered napkins, wrapped in festive Red, White & Blue crinkle!


Hungry History: Chocolate Brownies - HISTORY

May 9th is National Butterscotch Brownie Day, also called a blonde brownie or blondie. The difference between a brownie and a butterscotch brownie / blondie is a yellow (blonde) batter: flour, brown sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder and vanilla. A brownie is made from a chocolate brownie batter, which adds cocoa powder or melted chocolate.

A butterscotch brownie (a.k.a. blondie) has a butterscotch flavor, from the brown sugar. Some might call it a caramel flavor.

There can be a slight difference between butterscotch brownies and blondies. Blondies typically include chocolate chips and nuts. Butterscotch brownies add butterscotch chips (chocolate chips and nuts are an option). Some recipes use toffee bits instead of butterscotch chips.


BUTTERSCOTCH BROWNIES HISTORY

According to Food Timeline, blonde brownies predate the chocolate version by about 10 years.

Around 1896, a molasses-flavored bar cookie (no chocolate, cocoa or chocolate chips) called a brownie appeared. The name honored the elfin characters featured in popular books, stories, cartoons and verses of the time by Palmer Cox (the Eastman Kodak Brownie camera was also named after these elves).

After the later introduction and popularity of chocolate brownies, became known as a butterscotch brownie (history of the brownie).

The name “Blondie” surfaces in the 1980s. It was not named for Dagwood Bumstead’s wife.


RECIPE: CHEWY, CHUNKY BUTTERSCOTCH BROWNIES

In this recipe, cookbook author Dorie Greenspan uses toffee bits instead of butterscotch chips. She also adds some coconut, which you can keep or omit.

The recipe is from Dorie’s book, Baking: From My Home To Yours. It makes you want to get an invitation to Dorie’s home, ASAP.

Ingredients


*You can chop up any toffee you have on hand.

Preparation

1. CENTER a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet. Prepare a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer and a large bowl.

2. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. BEAT the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated.

4. ADD the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter.

5. STIR in the chips, nuts and coconut, using a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and use the spatula to even the top as best you can.

6. BAKE for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown color.

7. TRANSFER the pan to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Invert onto a rack right side up and cool the blondies to room temperature. Cut into 32 bars, each roughly 2-1/4 x 1-1/2 inches.


FOOD 101: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BUTTERSCOTCH & TOFFEE

Both start with sugar, butter and water. Then, it’s a question of the heat and any added ingredients.


[1] A classic butterscotch brownie / blondie. The recipe is below (photo © Dorie Greenspan | Lovin In The Oven).


[2] We prefer ours with lots of chocolate chips (photo © King Arthur Flour).


[3] Yes, please: chocolate chips (photo © Bella Baker).


[4] Want nuts? We think that pecans taste best in a butterscotch brownie / blondie (photo © American Pecans).


Katharine Hepburn’s Favorite Brownie Recipe

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Katharine Hepburn Studio Portrait ca. 1941.

As a resident of Los Angeles, I pass by that famous white Hollywood sign every time I go for a hike or make a run to the grocery store. Living in the middle of Tinseltown can make one feel somewhat jaded, particularly when Oscar season rolls around. In my neck of the woods, the Academy Awards ceremony means helicopters flying overhead day and night, incessant local news coverage and traffic jams. Cynical as I might feel about the fanfare, I always watch the Oscars, and I always get a little flutter inside when the ceremony begins. There is something magical about the movies a dark theater, the smell of popcorn, the music of a beautiful soundtrack sending shivers through your core. I love the experience of watching a movie. Unfortunately, the majority of films today fail to move or excite me. If I could, I’d travel back in time to the “good old days,” when movie stars kept it classy and talent was the name of the game. I’m talking about old Hollywood, the silver screen, and the days of Katharine Hepburn. Katharine is currently the record holder for the most Leading Actress Oscar awards (4 to be exact). She was beautiful. She was smart. She was unafraid to express her opinion. All this, and the woman knew how to make killer chocolate brownies. They broke the mold with Katharine Hepburn.

Born on May 12, 1907 to a freethinking family, Katharine’s parents encouraged her to speak her mind and embrace her independence. Her mother, Katharine Marie Houghton, fought for women’s rights as a suffragette and her father, Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn, was one of the first to begin educating the public on sexual health and safety. Thanks to her upbringing, Katharine was very aware of social issues. In fact, one of her first acting performances was given in the spirit of charity. As a child, she and her 5 siblings put on a neighborhood performance. They sent the profits to benefit Navajo children living in New Mexico.

Upon graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1928, Katherine immediately embarked on her journey into an acting career. She received rave reviews for her role on Broadway as an Amazon queen in The Warrior’s Husband, which caught the attention of a scout from RKO Radio Pictures. In 1932, Katharine starred in her first big screen role opposite John Barrymore in A Bill of Divorcement. RKO, pleased with the reviews of her performance, offered her a long-term studio contract. Katharine’s career was on an upward trajectory the following year, she won her first Oscar award for her role in the film Morning Glory. Katharine’s upbringing helped to shape some of her most memorable qualities as an actress. In particular, Katharine was admired for her confidence, intelligence, and unwillingness to conform to Hollywood stereotypes. She didn’t feel it was necessary to wear makeup she often wore pants instead of the feminine dresses that were considered more “suitable” at the time. At one point, studio executives became dismayed by Katharine’s somewhat masculine attire. They ordered a member of RKO’s costume department to remove a pair of pants from her dressing room. Katharine stomped around set in her underwear to protest.

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey in State of the Union.

Katharine’s career spanned over 50 years, both on screen and stage. In addition to her 4 Oscar wins, she received 8 additional Academy Award nominations. She also won an Emmy for her role in the television film Love Among the Ruins. Her career was marked by a long-term love affair, both onscreen and off, with actor Spencer Tracey (another Oscar record holder, tied with Laurence Olivier, for most nominations in the Leading Actor category). Katharine and Spencer starred in 9 films together. Though they never wed, their relationship lasted 27 years until his death in 1967. Katharine’s last film with Spencer was Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner the role won her a second Oscar. She later won a third and fourth Oscar for The Lion in Winter and On Golden Pond.

At the age of 96, Katherine passed away in the same Connecticut house where she grew up. Though she may no longer be with us, her film legacy will certainly outlive us all. In honor of Katherine, I recently decided to try out her recipe for brownies. You may gasp when you read the ingredients: lots of butter, lots of sugar, and only a tiny bit of flour. This lack of flour was apparently Katharine’s secret to great brownies. The recipe comes from a letter to the editor of the New York Times on July 6, 2003. In the letter, Hepburn’s New York neighbor Heather Henderson recalled her first memorable meeting with Katharine. At the time, Heather was threatening to quit her studies at Bryn Mawr, Katharine’s alma mater. Heather’s father, who had noticed that Katharine lived nearby, slipped a letter into her mail slot, begging her to talk some sense into his daughter. Katharine called Heather at 7:30am the next morning and lectured her on the stupidity of her decision. The two arranged to meet for tea. Katharine convinced Heather to stick it out at Bryn Mawr. This began a series of casual meetings between Katharine and the Henderson family.

One day, Heather’s father heard that Katharine had been in a car accident and was recovering. He stopped by her place to bring her a batch of brownies. Hepburn tasted them and balked. “Too much flour! And don’t overbake them! They should be moist, not cakey!” As always, Katharine was opinionated and brutally honest. She rattled off her own brownie recipe while Heather’s father scribbled notes. The recipe appears below, with a few of my own notes in the baking instructions.

Heather took away three pieces of advice from her acquaintance with Katharine Hepburn:

I made these brownies twice over the weekend, and they are wonderfully rich and gooey. I tried the first batch with cocoa (from the original recipe), and the second with baker’s chocolate. I preferred the brownies made with melted chocolate, though both batches were good. In my oven they took about 45 minutes as Katharine said, you should make sure you don’t overbake them, or they’ll get dry. I may use a little less sugar next time, and half the nuts, but these are personal preferences.

Enjoy this simple and sweet treat in honor of Katharine Hepburn and her impressive Oscar legacy.


Hungry History: Chocolate Brownies - HISTORY

January 22nd is National Blondie Day, a confection also called blond brownies and butterscotch brownies. (To add to the confusion, May 9th is National Butterscotch Brownie Day.)

The shape and texture are similar to chocolate brownies, but the ingredients are different.


Blondies tend not to be frosted, since the brown sugar is sweet enough. However, chocolate ganache is a nice (if messier) alternative to chocolate chips (photo #3). Since the beginning of recent food trends, some bakers use salted caramel ganache or dulce de leche.

Blondies differ from white chocolate brownies, since the latter have white chocolate in the batter. We’ve encountered some blondies with chocolate chips called Congo Bars, but accurately, Congo Bars have both chocolate chips and walnuts coconut can be substituted the walnuts.

Like brownies, blondies are bar cookies cut into rectangles or squares. They’re great as a base for a sundae, topped with butterscotch, caramel or chocolate sauce.

We know the history of brownies, but where did blondies originate?


THE HISTORY OF BLONDIES

Like brownies, blondies originated in the U.S. We’re just not absolutely certain of their creator.

As bar cookies evolved in the late 19th century, molasses was a popular sweetener. Molasses bars were

The first person publish a recipe for the brownies we know today was Fanny Farmer, in the 1896 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook (the history of brownies).

But that recipe contained no chocolate it was essentially what we today call a Blondie.

According to Food Timeline, blonde brownies predate the chocolate version by about 10 years. Around 1896, a molasses-flavored bar cookie (no chocolate, cocoa or chocolate chips) called a brownie appeared. The name honored the elfin characters called Brownies, featured in popular books, stories, cartoons and verses of the time by Palmer Cox (the Eastman Kodak Brownie camera was also named after these elves).

According to another source, in the 1906 edition of her cookbook, Farmer published an updated version of her cookbook that included a blondie recipe and a brownie recipe, both called brownies. Alas, we’ve only been able to get our hands on the 1896 version, reprinted and available on Amazon (link above), so we can’t do our own fact-checking.

After the later introduction and popularity of chocolate brownies, the molasses brownies became known as blonde brownies. Subsequently, some bakers started to substitute brown sugar for the molasses, providing a butterscotch taste and a new name, butterscotch brownies.


[1] Blondies with pecans, served with dulce de leche. Blondies can have a finer crumb (texture) if cake flour is used instead of all-purpose flour (photo courtesy Valrhona).


[2] A classic, rustic blondie with chocolate chips and walnuts (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

Although we grew up in the food wonderland that is New York City, we don’t recall seeing a blondie or a butterscotch brownie until the mid 1970s or early 1980s.

Then, some time around then, an artisan bakery whose name, alas, we can’t remember (and is no longer in business) began selling packaged blondies, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and other baked beauties in small grocery stores and delis. The line was superior to anything else being sold—and they introduced the New York we knew to blondies.

If you’re that bakery and are reading this, tell us your name…and thanks for the memories!


Brownies For A Crowd

Equipment

Ingredients

  • ▢ 3/4 cup water
  • ▢ 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter plus more for the pan
  • ▢ 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • ▢ 18 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
  • ▢ 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • ▢ 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ▢ 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • ▢ 6 extra-large eggs
  • ▢ 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ▢ 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Directions

Show Nutrition

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Natasha Taylor

I was VERY skeptical of this brownies for a crowd recipe when I first read it. The technique seemed a bit cumbersome and strange for brownies. In my experience, great brownies are not rocket science, and the step of boiling water seemed strange…but they came out fantastic!

The chocolate flavor was rich and intense but not overwhelming. Although they weren't as dense as brownies that are labeled fudgy, these weren't exactly cake-like. Mine came out at about 1 1/2 inches thick, and I think of a cakey brownie being more like 2 or 3 inches high. The texture was great—nice and moist, not dry at all, and the top had a nice crackle to it like a bakery brownie, which I really liked.

These are pretty sweet, though—not for the faint of heart. They'd be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, although they stand up on their own just fine.

When I poured the boiling water, sugar, and butter mixture over the chopped chocolate, it didn't melt all the way on its own. I had to put it into the microwave for about 45 seconds on high (2 rounds of about 20 seconds each) to melt all the chocolate. I baked my brownies for 40 to 45 minutes, which was a bit longer than indicated in the recipe. I checked it at 30 minutes (the center was obviously still unbaked), at 36 minutes (the toothpick came out with batter clinging to it), and then again at 42 minutes (the toothpick came out clean but not everywhere, as the chocolate chips left some chocolate on the toothpick). The top was a light brown with a few cracks in it. This was the best indication I could find that the brownies were done.

Alexander Cowan

I'm in both brownie camps. I'd even go as far as calling myself brownie-versatile. I love brownies and even their albino brothers, blondies. There aren't too many brownies I'd take a pass on, and with this recipe, I have another brownie that I just love. While they were cakey and each bite felt like I was eating a brownie, they also had a nice chewiness and rich fudgy chocolatiness. So satisfying.

These took less than an hour to make, not including the cooling time at the end. I went with 35 minutes total baking time, rotating my pan 90 degrees after 15 minutes to avoid any hot spots (my oven is horrible). When I inserted a toothpick at the 35-minute mark, the center was domed slightly, and the edges were firm and slightly crackly. My toothpick came out perfectly clean. I baked the brownies in a 12-by-18-inch cake pan, and I was worried that with my shallow sheet pan, the batter would bake right over the edge and cause a huge mess inside my oven. Not even close. The brownie batter was tame and set perfectly in the pan.

I think the addition of the chocolate chips before baking is overkill. They don't melt into the brownie but rather firm up when cooled. So when you bite into a chip, it's pretty hard. Next time, I'll omit the chocolate chips. As I sit here writing, I'm trying my best not to get any of these moist delicious brownies for a crowd onto my keyboard. Now on my shirt, that's a different story.

Adrienne Lee

These brownies have a good flavor and weren't difficult to make. Mine turned out with a nice balance between a cake and a fudgy brownie.

I made half the recipe and used a 9-by-13-inch pan and this size worked well. To simplify the recipe, you can melt the chocolate with the butter in the microwave. Then add the boiling water and sugar to the butter and chocolate mixture. You can prevent the potential curdling by keeping out some sugar and beating it into the eggs before adding the hot liquid. However, I didn't find the mixture too hot by the time I needed to add the eggs.

Natalie Reebel

There's nothing like a brownie. While I don't have a strong preference for or against cakey brownies, I don't enjoy a dry brownie. These brownies are cakey and dense and filled with incredible chocolate flavor.

I found the recipe itself easy to follow and time-saving. By the time I finished stirring the hot water, sugar, butter, and chocolate together, the batter was cool enough for the addition of the eggs. I appreciate that the recipe yields 2 full 9-by-13-inch pans. The recipe gave me 48 good-size brownies which were quite addicting. My brownies took 43 minutes to bake. I knew they were finished baking when I jiggled the pan and the center of the brownie was set. The brownies had a lovely cracked top and were fudgy in the middle. Everyone loved them.

Joan Osborne

Even though I prefer fudgy brownies over cakey brownies, these were still quite good and well worth making. I loved the chocolate chips in this recipe, which sure satisfies a chocolate craving.

I didn't have the pan size called for so I used a pair of 9-by-13-inch pans instead and they worked perfectly. The brownies were perfectly baked after 35 minutes when a toothpick came out clean. I used buttered aluminum foil to line my pans and this made removal of the brownies very easy after cutting them into squares. My squares were some big and some smaller and I got 40 brownies. This recipe makes plenty for sharing and I did with some co-workers and my daughter. I think these would be even better with some frosting on top and next time I think that's what I'll do.

Ellen Fuss

Be forewarned, the recipe makes enough brownies for a small army. My yield was 36 generous servings—luckily there are a lot of people who love brownies where my husband works! The brownies were met with rave reviews from the cakey brownie fans. They were easy to put together and would be a good addition to my volumes of brownie recipes. They are simple, unfussy, basic brownies. I made these in a half sheet pan and had enough that I could have opened a small bakeshop on my driveway.

Luckily, I discovered that they freeze quite well, as most brownies do. I lined my pan with parchment. I wondered if it was supposed to be the sides as well…but as it was not clear to me, I did the bottom only. The parchment stuck to the brownies a bit. I was able to peel it off but it annoyed me. I wondered if the same would have happened if I had used foil. Also, perhaps if I had chilled them prior to cutting them, the parchment would not have stuck. After adding the eggs, I did find that the mixture was a bit gritty at this point (I'm guilty of tasting batter as I go—always!) but perhaps I didn't let the sugar dissolve long enough. It didn't seem to affect the texture of the final product.

The cake didn't dome in the middle. Overall these are a winner if cakey brownies are your texture of choice. It is a huge commitment of chocolate (a total of 30 ounces) but I love the way the chips add some texture to the brownies and I can think up a ton of ways to serve these at a summer barbecue, which is a good thing since I still have some brownies in my freezer.

Elie Nassar

I really love my brownies fudgy and dense. Cakey brownies are not really true brownies in my book. They're more like fudge cakes. With that mindset, I figured I'd give these a shot and see how they fare. Well, in all honesty, I can say that they deliver on what they promise perfectly and are utterly delicious. They're rich, full of dark chocolate flavor, and contain lovely molten chocolate bits here and there.

Are they going to replace my go-to fudgy brownies? No. I still think this is a fudge cake, but a fantastic one and a dessert that was a hit with everyone. I don't have a 12-by-18-inch cake pan (I have baking sheets this size but figured these might be too shallow). I used a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and a 9-by-9-inch baking pan and split the batter between them.

It's annoying when a recipe uses egg sizes other than large. I only buy large eggs. I went by weight and figured 6 extra-large eggs (64 grams each) is a bit less than 7 large eggs. So I used 7 large eggs. I'd think melting the chocolate separately over a double broiler then adding the butter and sugar would be a better idea. With the size pans I used, I ended up with 48 brownies. They were about an inch thick. The cake rises flat, with not much doming. The surface looks dull and a toothpick comes out clean.

Lila Ferrari

My testers loved these brownies because they're cakey and chocolatey and everything a brownie should be. I made half the recipe and am glad I did because it produced about 50 brownies. They're rich enough that you don't need a huge morsel. The recipe was easy enough. Next time I'll add nuts.

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Comments

Pls could u advise if I use the 9 X 12-inch pan how thick they come out? Wondering if should double looking for a 2-inch brownie. thank u.

Kristin, take a look at the Brownies for a Smaller Crowd variation!

I made these brownies for a luncheon at work earlier this week. We easily had around 40 people and I also made a cake and cookies. The brownies were the highlight for sure. I made them in (2) 9吉 pans and added some white chocolate chips for extra dimension at the end (half white and half semi sweet). Admittedly it was a lot of work chopping up over a pound of chocolate to be melted into the batter, but the recipe was seamless and they baked so nicely. I took them out of the oven after 35 minutes and let them cool before freezing the uncut slabs for a couple days until they were consumed. They thawed easily and cut cleanly. I had a mounded platter of brownies that looked so welcoming dusted with a little powdered sugar. They were thick, very fudgy, and definitely not very cakey. I’d definitely make again even to only make half the amount.


Nigella’s Chocolate Brownies

These are the chocolatiest and, if baked just right, the fudgiest chocolate brownies in the history of the world – and no, I don’t believe that I am exaggerating. If you prefer a cakey brownie to a fudgey brownie, look away now.

These are dark, dense and, thanks to the melted chocolate, supremely and unapologetically indulgently, chocolatey. A mouthful of a phrase – which fits perfectly for this mighty brownie. These brownies are so good that they’ll be appearing in my new novel, Escape To Curlew Cottage.

They’re actually also, surprisingly, quite easy to make.

Originally from Nigella’s “Feast”, I’ve halved the original recipe and make them in a standard slice tin – outside measurements, in case you’re interested, 31 x 21 x 5.

Rather than measuring out 190g I also use a whole 200g block of dark cooking chocolate, which I attack with the rolling pin while it’s still in its packet to break it in into smaller pieces. By the time Sarah has stolen a shard or three I figure the weight is about right.

Oh, and you know that lovely almost meringuey crispness that you can get on top of brownies? If you beat the eggs and chocolate very well together you should get this.

Another thing, if you really love to keep the just out of the oven fudgieness without risking it firming up in the tin, just before you take them out of the oven put some cold water and ice in the bottom of a roasting tin and pop your brownies into that to cool. It will immediately stop the cooking process.