|Place of origin||United States|
|Type||Square or bar|
|Main ingredient(s)||Flour, butter, eggs, chocolate or cocoa powder, sugar|
A chocolate brownie is a flat, baked dessert square that was developed in the United States at the end of the 19th century and popularized in both the U.S. and Canada during the first half of the 20th century. It is a cross between a cake and a soft cookie in texture and comes in a variety of forms. Depending on its density, it may be either fudgy or cakey and may include nuts, chocolate chips, or other ingredients. A variation made with brown sugar and chocolate bits but without melted chocolate in the batter is called a blonde brownie or blondie.
Brownies are typically eaten by hand, often accompanied by milk or coffee. They are sometimes served warm with ice cream (à la mode), topped with whipped cream, or sprinkled with powdered sugar. Common lunchbox treats, they are also popular in restaurants.
One legend about the creation of brownies is that of Bertha Palmer, a prominent Chicago socialite whose husband owned the Palmer House Hotel. One day in 1893, she 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 it states is 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.
- Gage, Mary E. (February 2010). "History of Brownies (Chocolate)". Retrieved 2010-03-13.
- Palmer, Bertha. "The Chocolate Fudge Brownie". Palmer House Hilton. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
- Saekel, Karola. "Panel Gives Baking Mixes a High Score". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Webster's New World College Dictionary (4th ed.). 2008.
- "The History of Brownies". The Nibble. Lifestyle Direct. Retrieved 13 March 2013.