I must have led a sheltered childhood… until I was in my late teens, I thought a Brownie was what girls were before becoming guides! However, while at university, I was exposed to the chocolate brownie and that changed my view of things. It seems strange to say this about Vice Puddings’ bestseller, but I’m not a great fan of brownies – save for when it’s warmed up and served with our own Buttermilk ice-cream (that’s a different story).
This American staple has only been a widespread “thing” for about 100 years and the original dates back to 1893, when it was created for the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Bertha Palmer asked the chefs at the Palmer House hotel to provide the ladies attending her event to have something sweet that was smaller and simpler to eat than cake… and a legend was born. This initial version featured walnuts as a topping, but as time went by, many recipes included the nuts in the brownie itself.
Our brownies do NOT contain nuts (or gluten) but have proven to be a big hit with customers, leading us to introduce a few variations (as you’ll see in our online shop). We have added cocoa powder and a lot more chocolate to make it a really intense chocolate hit, and we seem to have mastered the required “crispy edges, gooey inside” parameters!
If you want to try it at home, here’s the recipe for that original :
Palmer House Brownies (c.1893):
225g unsalted butter, cubed
200g good quality plain chocolate, broken into pieces
165g caster sugar
40g plain flour
½ tbsp vanilla extract
100g walnuts, crushed
½ cup water
½ apricot conserve/jam
½ tsp powdered gelatine
Using a double-boiler (a bowl set over a simmering pan of water – making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl), melt the butter and chocolate together.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 150oC, then mix the sifted plain flour and caster sugar together in a large bowl. Add the melted chocolate & butter mixture to the dry ingredients and beat thoroughly. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix through.
In a greased and lined tin, spread the batter out and then pat the crushed walnuts down onto the top of the batter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until crisp on top and the batter has risen slightly.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. While the brownie is cooling, make the glaze by warming the water, jam and gelatine together over a low heat, until thoroughly mixed through then increase the heat to boil the mixture for 2 minutes to give a syrupy glaze.
Once the baked brownies have cooled for 30 minutes, brush with the apricot glaze, allow to set slightly and then you’re done!