As if we needed one more temptation this holiday season, National Brownie Day is upon us.  Yep, on Monday, December 8, the ole sweet tooth will take yet another thumping as we dutifully celebrate one of America’s best-loved treats.  So make sure to cut yourself a big, warm square right from the middle of the pan—or perhaps you prefer a crunchier edge—pour yourself a cold glass of milk, sit back—that’s right—and learn a little something about this mainstay of restaurant dessert menus and home kitchens alike.  (The following courtesy The Nibble)

  • The brownie is classified as a bar cookie rather than a cake because brownies are finger food, like cookies, whereas cake are eaten with a fork.
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  • It’s thought that the name “brownie” might have come from the elfin characters featured in author Palmer Cox’s books, stories and cartoons that were popular in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.
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  • Unlike chocolate-chip cookies, which have an undisputed lineage (Ruth Graves Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn), the true inventor of the brownie remains unclear.  There are numerous legends to fire the imagination, the first posting that a chef mistakenly added melted chocolate to a batch of biscuits; the second that a cook was making a cake but didn’t have enough flour; and the third (and favored) myth, that a housewife in Bangor, Maine, forgot to add baking powder while making a chocolate cake, which prevented it from rising.  (She served it anyway, so says the legend.)
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  • Larousse Gastronomique, regarded by many as the ultimate cooking reference, states that a recipe for brownies first appeared in the 1896 The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, written by Fannie Merritt Farmer.  However, the recipe was for a cookie-type confection that was colored and flavored with molasses and made in fluted marguerite molds.
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  • According to 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, for a less rich and chocolatey version of the brownie we know today, appearing in the 1906 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, edited by Fannie Merritt Farmer.  And the second, a tweak to Farmer’s original recipe, which created a richer, more chocolatey brownie (by adding an another egg and an extra square of chocolate), becoming available in 1907’s Lowney’s Cook Book Illustrated, written by Maria Willet Howard.
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  • While the first brownie recipes were published and variations began to evolve in the first years of the 20th century, it took until the Roaring ‘20s for the brownie to become one of the favorite baked chocolate treats, a position it maintains today.