Each year on December 8, brownie lovers across the nation enjoy one of their favorite baked goods on National Brownie Day.
Brownies were created in the United States at the end of the 19th century. A cross between a cookie and cake, they soon became very popular across the country.
With the chocolate brownie being the favorite, the blonde brownie runs a close second. A blonde brownie is made with brown sugar and no chocolate and is often called a blondie.
There was a request for a dessert for a group of ladies that would be attending a fair in the late 1800s. They wanted a small cake-like dessert that could be eaten from a boxed lunch. A Chicago chef, working at the Palmer House Hotel, created the first brownie for the ladies, which featured an apricot glaze and walnuts. The Palmer House Hotel still serves their original recipe for brownies on their menu.
The earliest recipes for brownies comparable to those familiar to us today are found published in regional cookbooks and newspapers around the turn of the last century. The 1904 Laconia, NH Home Cookery, the 1904 Chicago, IL Service Club Cook Book, and an April 2, 1905, edition of The Boston Globe are three early examples. In 1906, Fannie Merritt Farmer published a recipe in an edition of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.
- The first brownie ever made, like other culinary mishaps (the sandwich, pizza, potato chip) was actually a mistake. The baker didn’t have baking powder and ended up with an unleavened fudgy treat.
- The word ‘brownie’ became so popular that soon after the Expedition even Kodak named one of it’s first hand held cameras after them, the little ‘brownie.’
- The classic brownie consists of only butter, sugar, chocolate, eggs and flour. Unsweetened chocolate is used so more sugar is required to balance the bitterness.
- The first brownie made was not actually a brownie at all. It was a tasty treat sweetened with molasses that we now know as a blondie.
- Although cannabis is the most controversial brownie mix-in, walnut remains the most popular and legal.
- Brownie points in modern usage are a hypothetical social currency, which can be accrued by doing good deeds or earning favor in the eyes of another- often one’s superior. The origin of the term is unclear.
- Brownies were one of the very first prepackaged food ‘mixes’ ever sold. First appearing in the Sears, Roebuck catalogue in 1897.
- Fannie Farmer, the First Lady of American Cookery, published the first written recipe for brownies in 1896.
Here is the August 24, 2014 making of the “World’s biggest brownie” at McGill University. The brownie measures 30 by 15 feet and uses more than 1400 pounds of sugar, 360 pounds of cocoa powder and 420 pounds of organic dark chocolate – not to mention the almost 9000 eggs from McGill’s Macdonald campus on Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.
“It should weigh in about 4400 pounds at the end.”
The brownie can feed up to 20,000 people.