Bulk Excellent Brownies

serves 20

IngredientsA delicious-looking brownie

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
  2. Line a 25cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. In a large bowl over some simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate and mix until smooth.
  4. Add the cherries and nuts, if you're using them, and stir together.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar, then add this to the chocolate, cherry and nut mixture.
  6. Stir together well.
  7. Beat the eggs and mix in until you have a silky consistency.
  8. Pour your brownie mix into the baking tray, and place in the oven for around 25 minutes. You don't want to overcook them, so, unlike cakes, you don't want a skewer to come out all clean. The brownies should be slightly springy on the outside but still gooey in the middle.
  9. Allow to cool in the tray, then carefully transfer to a large chopping board and cut into chunky squares.
  10. These make a fantastic dessert served with a dollop of crème fraîche mixed with some orange zest.

Origins

The origin of the brownie is shrouded in myth. One account, first cited in The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, tells of a housewife in Bangor, Maine, who was making a chocolate cake but forgot to add baking powder. When her cake didn’t rise properly, instead of tossing it out, she cut and served the flat pieces. Alas, that theory relies on a cookbook published in Bangor in 1912, six years after the first chocolate brownie recipe was published by one of America’s most famous cookbook authors, Fannie Merritt Farmer, in 1906 (and the Bangor version was almost identical to the 1906 recipe). The brownie's first public appearance was during the 1893 Columbian Exposition. A chef at the Palmer House Hotel created the confection after Bertha Palmer requested a dessert for ladies attending the fair that would be smaller than a piece of cake, and easily eaten from boxed lunches. These brownies feature an apricot glaze and walnuts, and are still being made at the hotel according to the original recipe. The earliest published recipe for a brownie like those of today appeared in the 1905 edition of The South American Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Pack's 1896 version of the cookbook, but this was in reference to molasses cakes baked individually in tin molds, not true brownies. A second recipe appeared in 1907 in Lowney’s Cook Book, by Maria Willet Howard and published by the Walter M. Lowney Company of Boston, Massachusetts. This recipe added an extra egg and an additional square of chocolate to the Boston Cooking School recipe, creating a richer, fudgier brownie. The recipe was named Bangor Brownies, possibly because it was created by a woman in Bangor, Maine.