A chocolate Red Copper Brownie Pan Video (commonly referred to as simply brownie) is a square, baked, chocolate dessert. 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 vanilla rather than chocolate in the batter is called a blonde 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 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 lunchbox treats, and 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.
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. 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.[a] 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"
A Brownie Recipe for Every Brownie Lover
Similar ingredients, different proportions
All of these brownie recipes have enough chocolate flavor to satisfy a chocolate yearning, and they all have similar ingredients. But because of the varying amounts of chocolate, butter, sugar, and flour, the texture of each brownie is quite different. To keep things simple, I’ve left nuts out of the three chocolate variations, but feel free to add them, 3/4 cup or so. I especially love chopped toasted walnuts in the cakey version.
A fudgy brownie is dense, with a moist, intensely chocolatey interior. I think of it as somewhere between a rich truffle torte and a piece of fudge. You’ll see that I’ve included both bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate: I love the deep, intense chocolate flavor they pack when used together. I’ve added an egg yolk to contribute fudgy richness without greasiness. Because the batter is quite dense, I suggest beating it vigorously with a wooden spoon to ensure a smooth, even texture.
A chewy brownie is moist, but not quite as gooey as a fudgy one. The chewiness seems to come from a couple of different factors: more all-purpose flour, whose proteins provide “bite” (I find that cake flour, which is lower in protein, results in a light, crumbly texture that’s too delicate for brownies); and whole eggs, whose whites give structure and “set.”
A cakey brownie has a moist crumb and a slightly fluffy interior. The batter contains less butter than the other recipes, and I include milk and a little corn syrup for moistness (the milk and corn syrup are also great ways to extend a brownie’s shelf life). I don’t use much flour (even less than for most cakes), and while brownies don’t usually use chemical leavens, I add some baking powder to keep this cakey brownie light.
When I mix cakey brownies, I use a bit of cake-baking technique, too: creaming the butter and sugar first (rather than melting the butter) and then whisking the batter to aerate the mixture and get a light crumb. I think this brownie improves on sitting at least one and even two days after you bake it.
Killer brownies don’t need expensive chocolate
With high-quality chocolate—both domestic and imported—more readily available these days, I’ve noticed that many bakers have opted to get fancy with brownies. I’m a stickler for good ingredients, but I also believe that brownies are best when you keep them simple. While I encourage you to experiment with different chocolates, I got delicious results in all these recipes with supermarket-handy unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate.
Test for doneness before the recipe tells you to
In addition to ingredient proportions, baking time greatly affects the consistency of a brownie, so it’s important to be attentive. Fudgy brownies baked three minutes too short can be unpleasantly gooey; chewy brownies baked three minutes too long become tough and dry. I encourage you to invest in an oven thermometer (about $6), a valuable help in ensuring consistent results.
Brownies will cook more quickly in metal pans than in glass, which is what accounts for the wide time windows in the recipes. If you’re using metal, cooking times will be on the short side; with Pyrex, they’ll be longer. For all these recipes, and regardless of the pan you’re using, start testing for doneness after 20 minutes of baking. First, press your fingers gently into the center of the pan. If the brownie feels like it’s just setting, insert a toothpick near the center. The pick will probably be wet, but this early testing is good for comparison’s sake. Continue baking for 5 to 8 minutes and then insert the toothpick again near the center. Brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs still clinging. It’s okay for the pick to look moist, but if you see wet batter, keep baking.