The true origins of the brownie are unknown. There are records of treats dating back to the 1800s that were called brownies but they were candy and cookies that bear no resemblance to what we know as a brownie today. Folklore gives us a few suggestions as to the possible origins of the brownie. One story says that a careless chef mistakenly added melted chocolate to a batch of biscuits, while other stories say that a cook ran short of flour or forgot to add baking powder while making a chocolate cake.
The oldest published recipe for a brownie as we know it was featured in The Boston Globe in 1905. The first inclusion in a cookbook was in The Boston Cooking – School Cook Book by Fanny Farmer in 1906. A second recipe that included more egg and melted chocolate was published a year later in Lowney’s Cook Book Illustrated with the name “Bangor Brownies” and was attributed to an anonymous Maine housewife.
Regardless of who created them first, brownies grew in popularity over the next few decades with cooks adding their own touches to the recipes. Some recipes gave a lighter, more cake-like consistency, while others were chewier and denser. Other ingredients started to be added to the batter, such as nuts or chocolate chunks and sometimes a frosting might be applied or a garnish of whipped cream or powdered sugar. Today the varieties of brownies are nearly endless and they remain one of the most popular sweet treats in the United States.
Brownies are a chocolate flavored bar dessert with a consistency somewhere between a cookie and cake. Some are denser and more fudgey, while others are lighter and more cake-like depending on the individual recipe.
Flour, sugar, eggs, salt, melted chocolate or melted butter mixed with cocoa powder, and vanilla extract