The Weird History of the Brownie and a Classic Recipe to Try

Do you know where some of your favorite, classic recipes come from? It’s hard to pin down the backgrounds for our most treasured dishes. With some recipes dating all the way back to the 19th century, this hasn’t stopped a plethora of rumors and myths about the origins from surfacing.  

When it comes to one of America’s most loved desserts, history follows trend. Brownies have been around for decades, but their exact origins can only be estimated at best. There are many myths about how they were created and who created them, though. The question is, do you dare to wade through the history of this simple, yet decadent dessert with us? If so, read on! 

Rumors and Myths 

There are many stories about how brownies originated, so test your knowledge! Read the stories below and try to guess which ones are rumor and which is the real origin story. Answers are at the end of the post, so be sure to read through them all before finding out the truth. 

Story #1

A chef was making biscuits and accidentally added chocolate to them. Instead of throwing the mixture out, he decided to bake them and, voila, he got brownies.  

Story #2

The wife of a hotel owner asked the kitchen staff at the hotel to create a dessert that she could put in the lunch boxes for a women’s board. Brownies were made as a special dessert that was easily packable.  

Story #3

A baker didn’t have enough flour to make a chocolate cake but decided to make the recipe anyway. Can you guess the result? Brownies!

Story #4

A woman in Maine was baking a cake and forget to include the baking powder. It didn’t rise correctly, but she served the flat cake anyway and, thus, brownies were born.  


Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie Recipe 

Even though there are many variations on a traditional brownie, the most popular seem to be a simple brownie that showcases the chocolate flavor. One of the most important ingredients, aside from chocolate, is Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract. The rich vanilla flavor enhances the chocolate flavor in the brownies in an intense way.  

The following recipe makes 16 brownies and amps up the chocolate content in three different ways.  

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces 
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped 
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
  1. Preheat your over to 350 degrees. You should also prepare your eight-inch square pan by buttering it and flouring it.  
  2. Over low heat, add the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate to a saucepan. Add in the butter, too, and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. 
  3. After chocolate is cooled some, add in the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract and sugar.  
  4. Now add in the eggs one at a time as you beat them to get a glossy and smooth batter.  
  5. Mix in the flour and salt. Finally, add the chocolate chips. 
  6. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. A test with a knife should come out clean when the brownies are done. Cool them before cutting into 16 squares.  

Find Out the Truth About Brownies!  

Story #1: MYTH

If you know about baking, you could easily debunk this myth. Simply adding chocolate to a biscuit batter doesn’t make the most edible result.   

Story #2: TRUTH

That’s right, the real origin story is that brownies were created as a special dessert that could be easily eaten and carried in a lunch box. The wife of the owner of the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago asked that they be created so she could put them in the lunch boxes of her women’s board for the World Columbian Exposition in 1893. This story is the generally accepted true origin story. 

Story #3: MYTH

Now, this story may be more believable but, when you look at cakes versus brownies, there is more to the conversion than just leaving out a bit of flour. While this could work, it is not the true origin. 

Story #4: MYTH

Again, the difference between a brownie and a cake is much bigger than just some omitted baking powder, so this isn’t very likely to be the truth! 

Final Thoughts 

Brownies are a classic dessert treat and the key to a great brownie is chocolate (and lots of it!). Feel free to experiment with add-ins like M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces and more to make a recipe your own. In the end, it’s hard to go wrong with a chocolate dessert.  


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