The origins of the brownie are still widely contested to this day with many parties laying claim to this culinary favorite. One of the earliest legends of how the brownie was made involved the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. The legends state that Bertha Palmer directed the hotel’s pastry chefs to make a dessert that would fit in lunch boxes, and the rest is history. Whatever the history of the brownie is, it is truly an all-American creation.
- National brownie day is on December 8th.
- Walnuts are the most popular mix-in nuts for brownies.
- Chocolate cake has twice the flour of brownies.
- The most expensive brownie is called the “Brownie Extraordinaire” the price tag? A cool thousand dollars.
- The largest brownie in the world was made in New York in 2001. It weighed a total of 3,000 pounds.
Brownie Buying Guide
Not all brownies are created equal. They can be cakey, fudgy, or chewy, or a combination of all three. How to find the perfect brownie? There’s no such thing, as they are all equally good and it all boils down to personal preference.
- Fudgy Brownies – These are the brownies for the serious chocolate lover. This type of brownie has the least amount of flour among the other brownie type. Fudgy brownies have an intense chocolate flavor and are super dense and super-moist, almost gooey texture that’s near to that of a chocolate truffle.
- Chewy Brownies – These are the more “classic” of all brownie variety types. This falls somewhere between the fudgy brownie and the cakey brownies. Chewy brownies are well structured and have a rich chocolate taste with a slightly gooey center. Chewy brownies use more flour than fudgy brownies, giving it a chewier texture that is less dense than those of the fudgy variety.
- Cakey Brownies – Cakey brownies are just a few steps away from being chocolate cake. In fact, cakey brownies are usually mistaken for being super moist chocolate cake. This uses the most flour out of the brownie variety, giving it an airier composition and a lighter feel.
- Blondies – These are blonde… well… brownies. Instead of cocoa and chocolate, vanilla and brown sugar are the stars of the blondie. Every other component remains virtually the same.
Whichever variant that you prefer, brownies make for the perfect snack or dessert. Of course, you don’t have to be stuck with the basic brownie, check out your local farmers’ markets for local artisan brownie makers. You’d be surprised at all the creative varieties of brownies that are available.
Brownie Production & Farming in Texas
While the rest of the United States loves walnuts on their brownies, in Texas, the pecan is the nut of choice when it comes to brownies. Another variation of the Texas brownie is that instead of water, coffee is sometimes added to enhance the flavor. Every farmers’ market has one or two vendors that specialize in brownies so you’ll never be lacking for choices when you’re in the mood for a chocolatey treat.
Preservatives, Chemicals, and Additives:
Commercially baked brownies are loaded with preservatives, emulsifiers, and stabilizers to ensure that they last as long as possible on the shelves. Here are some of the stuff you can find in boxed brownies that you can find on store shelves.
- Vegetable Glycerin
- Guar Gum
- Mono- and Di-glycerides
- Sodium propionate
- Natural Flavorings
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Calcium Caseinate
If we kept on listing preservatives and additives that are added to commercially produced brownies then we would take up all of the space on this page. The ones listed should be more than enough to convince you to go to your local bakers if you want some brownies and not just grab something off the shelf.
Commercially produced brownies are packed in single-use plastics and then boxed to protect them from being squashed on store shelves. Buying local eliminates the need for extra packaging and protection.
Unlike other pastries, brownies are good both directly hot/warm from the oven or cold. Some people even wait until the next day to enjoy their brownies because they say it tastes better. However you want to enjoy them, brownies are probably the next best
To keep brownies fresh, here are some storage tips that you can use:
- Don’t cut them until you’re ready to eat them. Cutting brownies creates more edges and exposes more surfaces to air, in turn making the brownies dry out faster. Nobody wants a dry brownie.
- When storing, wrap the brownies as tight as possible or store them in an airtight container to avoid air circulation. Again, air dries out the brownies quite fast.
- This is more of a hack than a tip, add a slice of bread to the storage container. By adding a slice of bread, the brownies will keep nice and soft while the bread dries out first. I have no scientific proof of this, but it works! Try it the next time you have brownies, you don’t have anything to lose, well, maybe a slice of bread.
- Dip them in melted chocolate! By dipping the brownies in melted chocolate, you’re essentially creating a protective shell around it, preventing it from drying out. And as an added bonus, you have more chocolate added to your treat.
- For longer-term storage, cut the brownies into individual slices and wrap tightly with cling wrap, and then freeze. They should keep in the freezer for about three months. If you’re in the mood for brownies, just take a slice out and pop them in the oven for a few minutes.
Make Your Own Texas Brownies:
Texas brownies or sheet cakes are pretty simple to make and almost every household has a recipe that they swear by. But for those who want to see how the other side makes their brownies, here’s how we make them in our kitchens.
One stick unsalted butter
Six ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Two large eggs
Three-fourths cup granulated sugar
One Tablespoon vanilla extract
One Tablespoon brewed coffee
One Teaspoon instant espresso granules (or powdered coffee)
Three-fourths cup all-purpose flour
Half teaspoon salt (secret ingredient! The salt makes the sweetness pop out)
Half cup of chopped pecans (you can bake this in, or add to frosting)
Half-stick unsalted butter
Three tablespoons milk (any milk will do)
Three tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
One and three-fourths to two cups confectioners’ sugar
One Teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an aluminum square pan (an 8-inch pan will do) with foil and spray with cooking spray, set aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the butter, chocolate, and melt for about two minutes. Stir halfway. Check every 15 seconds until chocolate is fully melted and the mixture can be stirred until smooth. Allow to cool. Once cooled down, add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, coffee, espresso granules, and whisk to combine fully.
Add the salt and flour, mix until smooth. Do not overmix.
Pour batter on to pan and smooth out with a spatula.
Bake until the center is set, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
While the brownie is cooling, make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, add the butter, milk, cocoa powder, and heat over medium heat. Whisk until the butter has fully melted and allow to boil for a few seconds before removing from heat.
Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla (and nuts if you have them), and whisk until combined.
Spread the frosting on top of the brownies and allow to cool for an hour.
Slice, serve and enjoy!