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The brownie, perhaps America’s favorite baked treat, was “invented” in the United States, though no one is sure where. Evidence suggests that brownies were first made in New England in the early 20th century. Although they are shaped like a cake and baked in a cake pan, brownies are classified as a cookie bar rather than a cake. There are thousands of recipes for brownies, both “cake style” and “fudge style” and everything in between. What determines the style of the brownie is its ratio of flour to chocolate and/or cocoa.

Where did the word “Brownie” originate?

It’s easy to see that the brownie got its name from its dark brown color. But as with most foods, the origin of the “brownie” is shrouded in myth. The brownie is relatively new to baked goods, first appearing in the early 20th century. Legend has it that a chef mistakenly added melted chocolate to a batch of cookies. Another legend claims that a cook was making a cake but did not have enough flour and baked his dough anyway. Voila, the brownie!

The most popular legend tells of a housewife in Bangor, Maine who was making a chocolate cake but forgot to add baking powder. When the cake didn’t rise, she simply cut and served the flat pieces. This story is based on a cookbook published in Maine in 1912. Years earlier, however, the first chocolate brownie recipe was published by one of America’s most famous cookbook authors, Fannie Merritt Farmer, in 1906.

Was Fannie Merritt the first?

Numerous sources cite the earliest known recipe for brownies as the 1897 Sears Catalog, Roebuck, but this was a recipe for a molasses fudge simply called brownies. The name honors elven characters that appear in popular books, stories, cartoons, and verse from author Palmer Cox’s time.

Larousse Gastronomique, considered by many to be the ultimate culinary reference, claims that a recipe for brownies first appeared in the Boston Cookery School Cookbook, written by Fannie Farmer in 1896, but it was for a cookie-like confection that It had color and flavor. with molasses and elaborated in grooved molds type Marguerite. However, as verified by Jean Anderson in “The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes Of The 20th Century,” the first two published recipes for brownies appear in Boston cookbooks: the first in a later edition of “The Boston Cooking- School Cookbook”.

the first recipe

Culinary historians have traced the first “brownie” to the 1906 edition of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, edited by Fannie Merritt Farmer. This recipe is an early, less rich and chocolaty version of the brownie we know today, using two squares of melted chocolate. It is not known whether Fanny Farmer obtained the recipe from another source, printed or adapted it, or simply provided the name.

the second recipe

The second recipe, which appeared in 1907, was in Lowney’s Cook Book, written by Maria Willett Howard and published by the Walter M. Lowney Company of Boston. Mrs. Howard, a protégé of Mrs. Farmer, added an extra egg and an extra square of chocolate to the Boston Cooking School recipe, creating a richer, chocolateier brownie.

Chocolate or Cocoa?

Today, brownies are baked with melted cocoa or chocolate or a combination of the two. Artisanal bakeries, like Ruth’s Brownie Kitchen, even use specialty premium chocolates and cocoa, like the fabulous Valrhona chocolates, from the famous French manufacturer, to give their baked goods a unique, deep and satisfying chocolate flavor.

Pastel style or extra sweet?

While the original brownie recipes were all “cake-style,” meaning the texture of a cake but a bit richer and denser, over the years brownie recipes have generally evolved by increasing the proportion of chocolate Regarding the flour. Some of today’s recipes are more like fudge than cake.

Each type of brownie has its die-hard following, but it seems the fudge style is winning with two-thirds of those voicing their opinion preferring the richer, denser, creamier version. Still, a third of all people are solidly in the pie-style camp.

The nation’s favorite

While the first brownie recipes were published and variations began to evolve in the early years of the 20th century, it took until the 1920s for the brownie to become the country’s favorite baked chocolate fudge, a position it still holds today.

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