Any one who enjoys chocolate is bound to love chocolate brownies. I am no exception and love the moist, slightly chewy and fudgy texture of brownies. These Chocolate Brownies are my weakness. I like to think of these my not-so-guilty pleasure because I use cocoa powder to make them, not chocolate. The cocoa powder gves these brownies an intense chocolate flavour that doesn’t come from chocolate alone. e uses cocoa powder and the brownies have a slightly cake-ish texture probably because of this. On baking, these brownies have a nice cracked and crisp top which hides a soft, slightly chewy interior. I like these as much as I like those made with the chocolate.
Chocolate Brownies are an American invention. It is believed to have been invented in 1893 in the Palmer House Hotel. The wife of the owner of the hotel wanted a dessert to serve at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. Her specification was for a dessert that was cake-like but smaller than a piece of cake. So the pastry chef made a very chocolatey confection with walnuts, topped with an apricot glaze.
The first printed recipe for a Brownie is credited to Fanny Farmer. I understand the first recipe had no chocolate in it. She adapted a molasses cookie recipe and baked it in a rectangular pan. Her 1906 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book had the first Chocolate Brownie recipe. The next Chocolate Brownie recipe is credited to Maria Willet Howard in her Lowney’s Cook Book Illustrated. She added an extra egg and more chocolate to Fanny Farmer’s recipe and named it Bangor Brownies. These were more like today’s brownies.
As always, brownies are easy to make. The batter for these brownies is best mixed by hand. This results in baked brownies with a nice and dense texture and a dry cracked top. My daughter dislikes walnuts so when I’m baking for her I leave them out. You can use other nuts like hazelnuts, cashewnuts or peanuts. That’s not traditional but they’re good. They taste even better if you toast them lightly first before mixing them in. You can also add dried fruit to them instead of nuts. My Brownies photographs have walnuts and dried cranberries in them. Today there are so many variations on the original Chocolate Brownie.
- 3/4 cup salted butter
- 4 tbsps cocoa powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup light brown sugar (or white sugar)
- 1 cup all purpose flour sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch baking powder
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar (optional)
- Beat the eggs and sugar lightly with a wooden spoon, until well mixed.
- Put the butter and cocoa powder in a heat proof bowl and mix, over a pan of boiling water, till the butter and cocoa becomes a smooth paste. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Add the cocoa-butter paste to the egg-sugar mixture and mix lightly. Now add the flour, baking powder, vanilla and chopped nuts. Fold lightly till everything is well mixed.
- Pour the batter into a parchment lined 8-inch square tin. Bake at 190C (375F) for 20 to 30 minutes till the brownie is done. Allow to cool a bit, remove from the tin and finish cooling on a rack.
- Cut and dust with powdered sugar if you prefer. I have a 7-inch square tin which is what I use to make my brownies so they are little thicker.