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The History Of The Brownie

La Crosse, WI, United States / KICKS 106.3

Brownies – A chocolate bar cookie.  The name comes from the deep-brown color of the cookie.

The origins of the chocolate brownies is uncertain but it is felt that it was probably created by accident, the result of a forgetful cook neglecting to add baking powder to chocolate cake batter.  Sears, Roebuck catalog in 1897 published the first known recipe for the brownies, and it quickly became very popular (so popular that a brownie mix was even sold in the catalog).  According to some sources, this was a recipe for a molasses candy merely called brownies.

According to cookbook author and culinary historian, Jean Anderson, in The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes Of The 20th Century, the two earliest published recipes for chocolate brownies appear in Boston-based cookbooks – the first in a 1906 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book edited by Fannie Merritt Farmer.

The second recipe, appearing in the 1907 Lowney’s Cook Book, written by Maria Willet Howard.    She added an extra egg and an extra square of chocolate to the Boston Cooking-School recipe, creating a richer, more chocolate brownie.  She named the recipe Bangor Brownies.


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